Parents of my students often ask me how they can start speaking Spanish with their children at home. Most of them have studied Spanish at some point and are comfortable reading and pronouncing the language, but do not have enough fluency or vocabulary to use it naturally. I encourage them to do the take-home activities I provide, to read picture books, listen to music and sing with their children. I also provide them with common Spanish phrases that they can use in everyday situations with their kids.
Many of the Spanish sentences I suggest are contextual, that is, you use them in specific situations and the meaning is clear from what you are doing. Most of the questions can be answered yes or no and are not necessarily part of a more complicated conversation. More than anything, these common Spanish phrases and questions are used over and over again, so children have the chance to hear them repeatedly and internalize the meaning and structure.
Below is a list of common Spanish phrases that parents and childcare providers can incorporate into daily routines. You can personalize the list, adding things you say to your child on a regular basis. Ask a native speaker or do a little research to learn how to say phrases that fit your routine. For example, if your child feeds the cat, you can add Dale de comer al gato, por favor (Please feed the cat).
Start with just three or four phrases. When you are comfortable using those, and remember to use them consistently, add a few more of these common Spanish phrases to your daily routine. The verb forms in these suggestions are for speaking to one child.
There is a printable version of this list, called Dilo así (Say it like this), at the end of the post. You can print it to use as a reference as you learn the phrases.
Dilo así – Say it like this
– Buenos días – Good morning
– ¿Cómo amaneciste? – How are you this morning? (How did you sleep?)
– Tenemos que irnos en….minutos – We have to go in … minutes.
– Ayúdame, por favor. – Help me please.
– ¿Te ayudo? – Can I help you?
– Por favor – Please
– Gracias – Thank you
– De nada – You’re welcome.
– Ponte los zapatos. – Put on your shoes.
– Cepíllate los dientes. – Brush your teeth.
– Lávate las manos – Wash your hands.
– ¿Quieres leer? – Do you want to read a story?
– ¿Cuántos hay? – How many are there?
– ¡Mira! – Look.
– Con cuidado / Ten cuidado – Be careful.
– Dame la mano. – Give me your hand.
– Toma mi mano. – Take my hand.
– Dame un abrazo. – Give me a hug.
– Siéntate. – Sit down.
– Muy calladito/a por favor – Be really quiet.
– Ven acá. – Come here.
– No toques. – Don’t touch.
– Camina, por favor. – Walk, please.
– No corras. – Don’t run.
– Me gusta – I like it.
– ¿Te gusta? – Do you like it?
– Guarda los juguetes – Pick up your toys.
– Tiende la cama. – Make your bed.
– Amárrate los zapatos – Tie your shoes.
– Dime otra vez. – Tell me again.
– Hazlo de nuevo – Do it again.
– Me encanta. – I love it.
– Lo haces bien. – You do that well.
– Lo hiciste bien. – You did it really well.
– Bien hecho. – Well done.
– Intenta otra vez. – Try again.
– ¿Dónde estás? – Where are you?
– Ganaste. – You won.
– Gané. – I won.
– Me toca. – It’s my turn.
– Te toca. – It’s your turn.
– Cierra la puerta. – Close the door.
– Apágalo. – Turn it off.
– Pon la mesa – Set the table.
– ¿Quieres agua? – Do you want some water?
– ¿Tienes hambre? – Are you hungry?
– A comer – Come eat.
– Es hora de comer – It’s time to eat.
– Come. – Eat.
– Cómetelo – Eat it up.
– ¿Quieres más? – Do you want more?
– ¿Acabaste? – Are you done?
– A la cama – Time for bed.
– Apaga la luz. – Turn off the light.
– Es hora de dormir. – It’s time to go to sleep.
– Es hora de ir a la cama. – It’s time for bed.
– Buenas noches – Good night
– Que descanses. – Sleep well. (Sleep tight.)
– Que sueñes con los angelitos. – Sweet dreams.
– Te adoro. – I love you (I adore you).
– Te quiero. – I love you.
Link to Printable List of Common Spanish Phrases
You may also be interested in this post: Activity with Por Favor, Gracias to Teach Children Spanish