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How to Help Your Child Remember

New Words


By Katherine Maxine Rapp

When you are teaching your child another language — or even if you are learning together! — memorizing new words can be challenging and sometimes discouraging if it is taking longer than you think it should. 

The learning curve for memorizing an entirely new set of vocabulary can be steep. However, these three key strategies will make the process come more naturally for your child. 

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Repeat and Recite

Repeating new words and reciting them in fun and exciting ways is one of the best ways to help young children remember what they are learning. A song that pairs new vocabulary with a catchy tune is a particularly effective memorization tool — and you can make up the jingle yourself!


For instance, create a special song about getting dressed that you sing with your little one in the morning to learn words like "la camisa" (shirt) or "los zapatos" (shoes). Or, get creative with a jingle that you sing while packing their backpack to review vocabulary like "el papel" (paper) or "el lápiz" (pencil). 


Think about it: We still remember lyrics from our childhood when we hear a familiar tune. The same will be true for your child and the new vocabulary they're learning in the target language. Writing fun rhymes or using wordplay to repeat the words in creative ways will do the same.


You can also change your vocal tone to match the words you say to give your child an auditory cue: For instance, you can say "¡GRANDE!" in a big, robust voice, or "pequeño" in a tiny, squeaky voice. 

Create Visual Cues

If your child is not old enough to write out their own colorful sticky notes as visual cues, you can take the lead on this. Create fun, bright pictures with the new vocabulary words on them, and be sure to say the word out loud when your child sees the picture. These can serve as labels for items like shoes, markers, and so forth. 


This practice combines visual cues with recitation and repetition, which will help cement the words your child is learning.

As you read Malty the Blue Tiger, you can also review the "Words I Learned" illustrated glossary at the end of the book by saying new vocabulary words out loud as you point to each picture. Your child will giggle and learn as they see isolated illustrations of Malty's tail, dancing monkeys, and more. 


Practice Every Day

It's simple but effective advice: Practice makes perfect. Even if it is only a few minutes per day at first, it is best to “touch” the language every day with your child.  If you are in the car together, play a CD of songs in the target language or a Malty the Blue Tiger language learning audiobook. When you are at home, watch a fun video in the target language! Try to expose your child to the new words every day, and use that vocabulary whenever possible to show how it's used in everyday conversation.  


It is true that if you don’t use a certain language daily, you will lose your mastery of that language. If you only work with your child once in a while or only expose them to the language occasionally, they will have a difficult time remembering what they have learned so far.

Want your child to start learning new vocabulary words today? Shop Malty the Blue Tiger bilingual resources below to get started in a fun, engaging way!


For more language learning resources and inspiration, tune into our In Plain Language podcast. 

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