¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish is a gentle introduction to Spanish presented through a fictional story, a cultural article, and a mask-making lesson. You will need both the book and the audio file. The book is available in print or Kindle ebook formats and the audio file is accessible for free through the website.
The book has some lovely, full-color illustrations that support the stories and vocabulary. These should be helpful for children.
The audio files feature author Judy Martialay reading the entire book along with Maria Fernandez. Martialay reads the English words and Fernandez reads the Spanish words. The stories are told mostly in English but with Spanish intermixed. Most Spanish words or phrases such as “el mercado” are introduced within sentences like this: “He is taking the beans to the market el mercado, where he will sell them.” After that, Spanish words are interspersed in a diglot weave approach like this without translation: “A few minutes later, la señora Moreno comes along and buys the pile of caramelos with Panchito hiding inside. She takes los caramelos home, and puts them inside una piñata.”
A glossary with all of the Spanish vocabulary introduced in each story is at the end of the book. Early in the first story, there is a short list of the vocabulary for greetings and numbers to get children started, but generally, the vocabulary is introduced within the stories.
In the middle of the book is a section titled, “Te toca a ti, It’s Your Turn.” Here we find some interactive activities for children to practice their Spanish with others. It begins with simple greetings. Then children are given “Treasure Hunts” to see if they can find things in their home or in a supermarket. Not all items on the treasure hunt lists will be in those locations. (This can be done either on site or just by using their memories and imaginations.) Next, they are given common Spanish expressions such as ¡Caramba! and ¡Qué horror! to try to use each day. Finally, they are given a short skit that involves four friends, a bird, and a jumping bean. A few children can take more than one part each if need be. These are all fun and relatively easy ways for children to practice speaking Spanish with their limited vocabulary.
Later in the book you are encouraged to have a piñata party. The book includes both lyrics and music for a song that can be sung while hitting the piñata.
The mask-making lesson explains how such masks are used in Mexico then gives complete instructions with patterns for children to make their own masks with tagboard and dry beans.
¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish is not intended to be a complete course, but it helps children start to become comfortable and familiar with Spanish without any pressure. Even children who cannot yet read can listen and repeat. Some of the interactive activities can also be done without requiring children to read. This means that you should be able to use it with children of various ages, probably up through about age ten.