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Image by Jason Leung

5 Tips for Teaching Sight Words in

Spanish or French

Sight words are those used frequently in language, and are sometimes difficult to sound out. In English, they include words like “right” or “enough.”


The ability for a child to quickly recognize high-frequency words like these will help them develop fluency — whether in their native language or in a target language.


In Spanish, high-frequency words helpful to know by sight include “aqui,” “el/ella,” “mira,” and “voy.” In French, they include “pour,” “je suis,” “voici,” and “moi.”


Follow these tips to help your child master sight words in their target language, and as a result, you’ll see their reading skills and fluency flourish.


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1. Label objects around your home or classroom.

Consider this a fun, real-life alternative to using illustrated sight word flashcards. When your kids regularly see “la fenêtre” on the window or “los juegos” on the game shelf, they’ll learn to immediately associate those words with the objects.


Consequently, they won’t have to pause to sound out or look up the words when they encounter them while reading.


2. Read a book or poem they know well, but in the target language.

When a child is already familiar with a certain text in their native language, they may be able to more easily grasp its sight words in Spanish or French.


Children’s books and poems often repeat sight words as part of their catchy refrains. Emphasize that repetition as you’re reading out loud, and ask your child to complete predictable sentences while you point to the sight word they're saying.


It’s particularly helpful if it’s a dual language book like Malty the Blue Tiger, which allows your child to see common words bolded and color-coded for easy comparison between the two languages.

3. Create your own games with high-frequency words.

This works with sight words or any other list of words you’d like your child to practice — you can even use the list of words in the illustrated glossary of Malty the Blue Tiger!


Use a word search creator like this one, then ask your child to find all of the sight words. If they’re with a sibling or friend, they may enjoy challenging each other to see who can find all of the words first.

4. Embark on a “book word hunt” with your child.

Pick a specific sight word or write a few on separate pieces of paper and have your child pick one from a hat. Next, give them a book they’re already familiar with and challenge them to count how many times the word shows up in it!


If you'd like, dole out a mini reward like a special sticker to your child for tallying up the correct number.


5. As you would with English sight words, make practice interactive.  

You’ve probably heard of teaching sight words using shaving cream or paint — but there are plenty of other (less messy) options too!


Ask your child to form simple sight words with pipe cleaners, magnetic letters, or by stringing lettered beads onto a string. You can even tackle certain groups of sight words by category, like possessive pronouns or objects around the house.

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