5 Reading Activities for Spanish Class

5 Reading Activities for Spanish Class

Inside: Reading Activities for Spanish Class, from Ashley Mikkelsen at Srta. Spanish


This year, I’ve been working hard to shift my mindset away from grammar-focused instruction to providing my students with more comprehensible input. (Check out this post for a great explanation on what comprehensible input is, exactly!) In the journey of incorporating more comprehensible input based activities and resources in my classes, I’ve discovered one really key thing:

95% of my activities are geared towards reading or re-reading.

(No, that’s not a scientifically measured number, but I’m pretty sure it’s 100% true).

Seriously. I spend almost all of my time lesson planning thinking about ways to get my students to interact with a story or a short reading. We know that reading is important (there’s research on it, if you need proof). Getting students to read meaningful language helps them acquire that language. It’s why we include FVR in our classrooms as a part of weekly routines!

I keep a list of my favorite ways to interact with a text handy. Then, when I’m lesson planning it’s easy to skim the list and say, what haven’t we done in awhile? Boom. Reduce teacher workload, reuse routines, and recycle old activities for new!


post-reading activities


Reading Activities in Spanish Class


Here are five easy ways to read or re-read a text in your classroom! Click on the links in each activity to get more in-depth info on each one.


1. Read Out Loud

Read Out Loud sounds like a no brainer, but read it out loud with your students! Students follow along and read with you to show understanding. You can also reduce the anxiety by moving this activity into pairs!


2. True/False

A True/False Post Reading Activity is so simple. Students read a text, then create ten true or false statements about the reading. Then you can use those sentences in a variety of ways! You can have them trade, and answer each others questions, or you can use their questions to play some rounds of The Marker Game.


3. The Most Important Sentence

Use The Most Important Sentence as a great way to get your students to analyze a text. Students read a text and pick out the X number of most important sentences, where X is a random number you’ve chosen. Then, they have to narrow down to the X most important sentences..then the X..then finally, the MOST important sentence! This activity is great for students to read and re-read a text, while considering what really matters to the plot. It can also be done individually, pairs, small groups, or as a whole class!


4. Read and Draw

There’s only so much to say about Read and Draw. They read a thing, and then they draw the thing. Easy! It’s a great way to show comprehension. You can later recycle their drawings for use in listening activities, or a reading and matching game!


5. Classic Dictation

Some people use Classic Dictation to introduce new stories, and some like to do this to review, but either way it’s a great activity to have students hear and read the information again. I like to do this after completing The Most Important Sentence, and use the sentences they came up with as a focus for our dictation. It’s a very calm, quiet day in class, but if you’d like to switch it up even more you can use those sentences in a Running Dictation activity instead!


There! I hope you got a few ideas to add to your bank to try. Have you used any of these before? What are your favorite reading activities to use in your Spanish classroom?


Not sure where to buy novels and comprehensible readers for your Spanish class? Try out these links:

Information on teaching with novels:

Why Spanish Learns Novels are So Important 

How to Teach Spanish with Novels, 101

Novels Sorted by Level from Bryce Hedstrom

More sources:

TPRS Publishing – Fluency Matters

TPRS Books

Spanish Cuentos





Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Raising Bilingual Children: 5 Families Share Their Stories

Raising Bilingual Children: 5 Families Share Their Stories

Inside: Insights from multilingual families in raising bilingual kids. 

Parents face hundreds of decisions as they raise their kids, along the way. Multilingual families face even more options: One parent, one language? Minority language at home? Only ever answer the kids in Spanish? Keep it casual and let them speak what they wish?

These decisions weigh on us because they affect the fabric of everyday life. We want to set them up for future success, while creating strong bonds and a happy home life. Which way is best?

As I’ve gotten to know hundreds of families through my blog, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is more than one path to multilingualism. 

That doesn’t mean every approach out there will work– most of us know of families who didn’t pass on a second language to their kids, even with two fluent parents. Raising bilingual children requires an intentionality and follow-through that isn’t always automatic.

Most families wil need to sit down and take into account all kinds of details: personalities, school options, community, extended family, and even the bond between parent and child will all affect each family’s plan. 

Because my own kids are still young, I hesitate to offer up too much advice just yet– we’re still getting started, really! So I reached out my Spanish Mama community on Facebook, and asked families with older children (or bilingual adults themselves) to share their experiences. It’s been fascinating and an absolute delight to read their stories!

For our first four interviews, I broke down their responses and am sharing them by section. The last interview, with Silvia, is in Spanish and flows so nicely I decided to keep it all together. You can get a peek into her family’s story at the end. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and settle in for this peek into growing up bilingual, or raising bilingual kids. 


Meet our Multilingual Families


Spanish Mama: Please introduce yourself and your family!

Nikki: I live in Northern Virginia with my husband and my 3 children aged 7, 5, and 2.  I began teaching HS Spanish in 2002. I am currently mostly home with my young children but I do teach one Spanish class at the local community college.  That has been interesting and it has helped to keep me current with the ever changing pedagogy!

I grew up in a bilingual home.  My father was a peace corps volunteer in Costa Rica in the early 70’s and met my mother.  Their language of communication is Spanish.  My two siblings and I grew up hearing Spanish being spoken between our parents always.  In my case (middle child), I was always very hesitant to speak Spanish to anyone.  We would travel to Costa Rica nearly every year, and most family members thought I did not speak! I was very shy and reserved, but the wheels in my head were always turning.  Once I started studying Spanish in HS, it’s like it all clicked!  I begin to want to speak more and more. 18 years of Spanish saved up in my brain all came out! 

Nikki’s Bilingual Family

Evelyn: I’m Venezuelan but my mom is Colombian. I grew up in Caracas but my mom always emphasized the importance of English at home (she and my dad were both bilingual).  I learned English formally at school but with a great support at home.  I had books, music, and eventually TV available.  My daughter was born in Caracas in 2000 and we moved to the US in 2001, she was 14 months old.  In 2002 we had a son.

María Patricia: So I was born in Chile 1972, and my mom and I left to Canada in 1976 after the political climate took a turn for the worse, I spoke Spanish at home but quickly picked up English from the environment around me (friends, school, tv, radio etc…).  My husband and his family had the same experience, born in Chile raised in Canada, although we didn’t meet until we were in our teens, both our households were Spanish only at home.

Melanie: I live in a rural area in the Northern highlands of Peru. My daughter, husband and I have been here for 4 years—where we have a medicinal plant farm. We make natural health and skin products. Along with our farm and business I homeschool my child. Since relocating to South America, I have been learning Spanish along with my 2 native languages! I have recently begun to blog on my site Adaptivore about my experiences and would be honoured if you have a look. 

I am Canadian and I grew up in a French/English billingual home. In Montreal ‘Frenglish’ is a vibrant reality! My mother’s family are francophone and my father is anglophone. I was surrounded by both languages from the start. Although we did tend to favour speaking English as a family. It wasn’t until I attended a French catholic high school that I perfected my French accent.



Language Family Rules


Spanish Mama: What guidelines or rules did your family have for what languages to speak at home?

Nikki: My parents encouraged me simply by modeling.  They never forced me. I think they just realized that in my own time, I would see the value in it. And I certainly did. I cannot fail to mention the financial sacrifices they made for us to travel as a family to Costa Rica nearly every year of my childhood!  This is priceless. 

Evelyn: As a parent I always spoke Spanish to my kids since they were born, since I knew they would eventually pick up English when they started school.  One fun fact: my daughter would reply in English or Spanish depending on how people pronounced her name: Isabel.  When her brother was born, she spoke Spanish to him until he started preschool.  After a couple of months she figured out he understood English and switched.  However, they remained speaking Spanish to us. I don’t remember being strict about it but always consistent.  I read books, played music, and played videos in Spanish most of the time.  Sometimes I would rephrase something to help them express themselves. Notes and now text messages are always in Spanish. 

María Patricia: My mom while vacationing in Chile passed away after finally finishing her home there. Her plan was to travel back and forth to Canada, like “snowbird” travelers, avoiding winters. After her passing, we inherited her home and we decided to try our luck in Chile as my in-laws had moved back there permanently and our three children did not know them. At this point my oldest was 12 years old, followed by my 10 and 7 year old.  They did not speak Spanish at this point, understood some of it and had the “gringo” accent if they tried to speak it.

We told them – we were going on an adventure, to move to Chile see if we like it, that since they didn’t know Spanish, we would first arrive let them “acclimatize” themselves to the culture and started a Spanish only at home campaign for 6 months, as the school year was already on its way when we arrived and with only 3 months left of the school year we decided not to enroll them right away,   There was no pressure for them to learn or else type of situation.  It was a let see what happens type of situation.  6 months later they started school and it was amazing to see how quickly they picked up the language.   Their grades were great; although speaking it took longer their understanding of it was obvious due to their grades. 

We did not have rules really set up, just based on the direction our lives took, I basically now see how I arrived to Canada not knowing the language but adapting quickly and realise how my kids did the same but with Spanish. 11 years have now gone by; we reverted back to a mostly English speaking household, as it’s just easier for us.  

Melanie: There were no rules per say in our household in regards to language, however, there were family members and later friends that only spoke/understood one of the two languages. It was important for me to be able to communicate fluently. My biggest motivator as I mentioned above was high school, I had no desire to be the odd one out with an anglophone accent. Later moving to Peru, especially in a remote area, learning Spanish was a necessity for various reasons both personal as well as for our business!



Speaking Spanish as Teens


Spanish Mama: As your got older (or your children grew), how did you/they feel about speaking Spanish? Did your family’s expectations or language use shift?

Nikki: In my case (middle child), I was always very hesitant to speak Spanish to anyone.  We would travel to Costa Rica nearly every year, and most family members thought I did not speak! I was very shy and reserved, but the wheels in my head were always turning.  Once I started studying Spanish in HS, it’s like it all clicked!  I begin to want to speak more and more. 18 years of Spanish saved up in my brain all came out!  As I approached adolescence and realized that I had an advantage over my peers in Spanish class, I felt proud that my language skills were something that set me apart.

Evelyn: Both of my kids like being able to speak Spanish and I never perceived any embarrassment from them.   Actually, it was almost a “secret language” for us.  Keep in mind that we lived in the Boston area and after 2007 we moved to Albany NY.  When we traveled to a Spanish speaking country they wanted to be addressed in Spanish and did not like being perceived as “Americans”.  At school they have been both successful in languages.  My daughter graduated last year and took AP exams in English, Spanish, and French with top scores in all.  She’s currently a Freshman at Fordham University and plans to major in International studies.  She loves to talk to people from other cultures and plans to take more languages (Yes, I’m a proud mama).  She received awards as a Multicultural Achiever from SUNY Albany and was recognized as a Hispanic Scholar by the College Board.  In other words, all this bragging helps me prove that being bilingual was a benefit to her education and NEVER a handicap.

Melanie: My parents (my mother especially) were certainly pleased that I chose to study in French. There is undeniable pride in our roots and language is an integral part of that. I learnt later how much being bilingual was an important representation of my heritage. It was always made clear that the quest for fluency was my own choice and not forced upon me. I went from an Immersion program to a French program. I remember that my social circle expanded much more so than had I remained in Immersion. Studying advanced literature also gave me a vocabulary that enriched my ability to express myself.


Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids


Spanish Mama: What do you feel that you/your parents did well? Any tips for other families?

Nikki: My parents were CONSISTENT! As a parent now trying to raise 3 bilingual children in a language that is not my 1st, I give my father an enormous amount of credit for speaking in his second language for 40 years!   Although he did not speak to myself and my siblings in Spanish, the constant exposure from both him AND my mother were so integral in my siblings and me becoming bilingual.  I encourage other parents (including myself) to not give up.  I have thought about giving up every day for the past 7.5 years but I keep putting one foot in front of the other because I have reaped the benefits myself. 

Evelyn: My advice is to be consistent and not discouraged by people that say two languages are confusing.  Also, be firm when talking to your kids and make it clear since they’re little that Spanish is the language spoken at home.  Music, videos, and stories are also a great resource to keep it interesting.

María Patricia: I think the best advice for other family is to not pressure them, we tried to make it fun and in our case it was all an adventure.

Melanie: I think that in our household what worked well was that there was no pressure. My brother and I both found our own motivation to become perfectly billigual. Another positive was that I was exposed to media and culture in both languages daily: television, music, theater. Not just translations but native speakers. Both strategies I would recommend to support any language learner or parent thereof!!


Silvia’s Story: Persistence is the Key


Tuve la dicha de nacer y crecer en el bello país de Guatemala. Soy secretaria oficinista por profesión, pero una apasionada maestra de corazón. A los 23 años, el 29 de septiembre del 2004 la vida me trajo a Canadá junto a mi esposo Santiago, nuestro pequeño José Andrés y nuestra bebita Verónica con solo 3 semanas de edad. 17 meses mas tarde, nuestro pequeño Eric se nació en nuestra familia. Desde entonces nos llamamos thegingerich5.


Silvia’s Multilingual Family

Soy guatemalteca, ¡hablo español! Mi esposo también es guatemalteco, eso hace que nuestros hijos tengan sangre chapina corriendo por sus venas. Pero, ¿porqué entonces estoy escribiendo sobre no forzar el bello idioma español en nuestros hijos?

Mi esposo tenia 2 años cuando fue adoptado por una familia canadiense. A los 12 años de edad empezó el arduo trabajo de aprender su tercer idioma. El nació en una familia Kakchiquel en las frías montañas del altiplano guatemalteco. Su primer idioma fue Kakchiquel, después inglés y su tercer, español.

Mi esposo y yo nos conocimos en Guatemala, en un pequeño pueblo en el lejano y cálido Petén.  Él dominaba muy bien el español. Yo hablaba cero inglés. Desde el principio mi esposo y yo nos hemos comunicado en español. Entre su familia la lengua dominante ha sido el inglés (aunque todos hablan español por haber vivido en países de habla hispana todas sus vidas).

Tan pronto como nuestro primer hijo nació, mi esposo automáticamente empezó a comunicarse con él en su idioma natal, el inglés. ¿Y yo? ¡En español!

José Andrés tenía 22 meses cuando nos mudamos a Canadá. Su vocabulario tanto en inglés como en español era muy limitado. Las únicas palabras que decía eran agua, bye, mama, papa, y unos sonidos intraducibles para decir gracias y expresar otras necesidades.

La presión comenzó. “Háblenle solo español”, nos aconsejaban unos. “Llévenlo al pediatra”, decían otros.

Mi esposo y yo tratamos de hacer caso omiso a los consejos no deseados de nuestros amigos y vecinos y  continuamos comunicándonos entre nosotros en español, y a ellos en nuestro idioma natal.

Desde que nuestros hijos estaban en mi vientre, tuvimos el hábito de leerles tanto en español como en inglés. Nuestros hijos crecieron rodeados de libros en ambos idiomas. Cuando venimos a Canadá nos encontramos con una escasez de libros. Pero no hubo problema, yo me inventé las historias y ellos me rogaban por un cuento mas antes de dormir.

Nuestro hogar siempre ha estado envuelto con el sonido de bellas notas musicales tanto en inglés como en español. Desde el día de su nacimiento nuestros hijos han cerrado sus ojitos al sonido de música y el alarma cada mañana ha sido la música.

Tuve la dicha de preparar académicamente a nuestros hijos en casa antes de enviarlos  a la escuela por el resto de sus vidas. Por cuatro años, les enseñé lo básico como los números del 1-10, los colores, las formas y a colorear. Esas fueron pequeñas lecciones   muy importante para nosotros pero no nuestra prioridad. Sin saberlo y sin planearlo, en nuestro ser sabíamos que había algo más de alta prioridad que como padres queríamos asegurarnos de inculcarles a nuestros pequeños antes de que hablaran dos idiomas perfectamente o que se formaran académicamente en ambos idiomas.  Esa prioridad era los buenos modales, tanto en casa como en la sociedad. Atributos como comportamientos que muestran preocupación y respeto por los demás.  Con nuestro ejemplo, les inculcamos el valor de desarrollar empatía por otros.

Les enseñamos con nuestro ejemplo la importancia  de darle la bienvenida a personas de diferente razas en sus vidas y en el hogar. Nuestro grupo de amistades esta formada tanto por canadienses con cero español, como por latinos con cero inglés. Así también por  canadienses como latinos bilingües, y por aboriginales que aseguran les estamos mintiendo cuando les decimos que no pertenecemos a una de sus tribus!


Photo by Jeison Higuita on Unsplash


En Noviembre del 2012 llevamos a nuestra familia a Guatemala por tres meses.  Desde que salimos de Guatemala en el 2004, solo habíamos regresado a visitar dos veces por tres semanas cada visita.

Quisimos hacer este viaje por varias razones,  y una de ellas era para que nuestros hijos ( a estas alturas de 10, 8 y 6) experimentaran en carne propia la cultura de mi familia,  otra forma de vida y la importancia de hablar mas de un idioma, en nuestro caso el español.

Había mucha emoción, pero también mucho temor y preocupación en nuestros pequeños. Nuestro hijo menor no entendía porqué los guatemaltecos no aprenden inglés. ¡La vida sería mucho más fácil para él, decía!

En esa visita encontramos varias respuestas a nuestras preguntas y dudas. Mi esposo estaba completamente seguro que nuestros hijos poseian una cajita en sus cerebros marcada “Guardando para más tarde”. Esa teoría resultó ser verdadera en esos tres meses. Nuestros hijos no solamente se comunicaban con sus primos y nuestros vecinos, sino también ¡vendían golosinas y peleaban como todos en la vecindad!

El día de nuestra partida nuestros hijos lloraron amargamente todo el camino al aeropuerto. Algo había sucedido en esa cajita en sus cerebros. Un hilo en sus corazones había sido para siempre conectado con la cultura y el idioma que sus padres habían tratado de enseñarles y modelarles todos estos años.

Han pasado seis años desde esa experiencia. Nuestros hijos ahora son adolescentes. Hemos continuado haciendo lo que creemos es mejor para nuestros hijos;  rodeándolos de español tanto en casa como fuera de la misma.

Por muchos años he estado dando clases de español a individuos y familias que estarán viajando a países de habla hispana. Este año tengo el privilegio de compartir  clases de español en la escuela  dónde dos de nuestros hijos asisten. Me sorprendí cuando algunos de mis estudiantes en grado octavo, de los cuales mi hija es una de ellos, sabían varios saludos y palabras que les estaba introduciendo. Descubrí un secreto de mi hija: ¡desde primer grado ha tenido un club de español con algunas de sus amigas y ella ha sido la maestra!

No es sorpresa escuchar a nuestros hijos hablando español a toda hora del día no importando en donde nos encontremos. Las palabras y las frases salen libremente y como música llegan a alegrar los oídos de esta mama latina.

Si tuviera que hacer todo de nuevo, no cambiaría nada. Las estrategias han funcionado. Persistencia es la clave.



A huge THANK YOU to our families who contributed to this post! What a treat to get a peek into your family life and stories. 

Are you raising bilingual kids, or are a multilingual adult yourself? I would love to feature you in this series! Email me at spanishmamatpt@gmail.com for more information!


Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Happy Birthday Songs in Spanish

Happy Birthday Songs in Spanish

Inside: Different versions Happy Birthday songs in Spanish, on YouTube.

In English, the song Happy Birthday is a staple at any birthday celebration– and wherever you go, it will basically sound the same. In Spanish, however, there are different versions, and they vary by country as well.

Here in Peru, for example, you’d better be prepared if you’re the cumpleañero! You’ll be sung at least three different songs, including Happy Birthday in English, before you get to blow those candles out. Though you say feliz cumpleaños to directly wish someone a Happy Birthday in Spanish, the words get switched to cumpleaños feliz in most cases, to fit the cadence of the song.


I’ll share several ways to sing to someone on their birthday, and you can pick your favorite. I wish there were a good version with lyrics on YouTube to recommend for free, but the pickings are slim. If you have more suggestions, let me know in the comments below for sure. 

If you are a classroom teacher, and would like to have quick, nice version with lyrics for your students to follow, you may want to look into this $5 version from Minute by Minute Spanish, which includes several regional options. 


If you prefer just to sing without music, here are the lyrics to some simple versions:

Cumpleaños, feliz,

Cumpleaños, feliz,
Cumpleaños feliiiiz,
Cumpleaños feliz.

Cumpleaños feliz
Te deseamos a ti
Que los cumplas feliz
Cumpleaños feliz

Cumpleaños, feliz,

Cumpleaños, feliz,
Te deseamos todos,
Cumpleaños feliz.


Happy Birthday Songs in Spanish


Let’s get started on our tour of Feliz Cumpleaños songs in YouTube, with option for kids to adults!


1. Cumpleaños Feliz with Lyrics


*Update!!* An awesome reader just sent me this link, which actually does show the lyrics during the song. WIN!

Cumpleaños feliz,
Cumpleaños feliz,
Te deseamos todos,
Cumpleaños feliz.


2. Cumpleaños Feliz – Canción Infantil

This one has a nice audio of children singing, though the images are a bit outdated!

Cumpleaños feliz,
Te deseamos a ti, 
Que los cumplas felices,
Cumpleaños feliz. 


3. Happy Birthday – Spanish Version


A slower version, sung by adults. Here are the lyrics:

Cumpleaños feliz,
Te deseamos a ti, 
Que los cumplas en tu día,
Que los cumplas feliz. 



4. Cumpleaños Feliz en Español


The graphics and lyrics are great in this version, though the audio is a little hard to sing along to.

Cumpleaños feliz,
Cumpleaños feliz,
Te deseamos todos,
Cumpleaños feliz.


5. Las Mañanitas


Work in some beautiful, cultural music with Las Mañanitas, traditionally sung on birthdays in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking places. 


And with lyrics:

6. Cumpleaños Feliz – Kids Songs


This one *does* show the lyrics, but unfortunately also show wine on the table! You may still want to use the audio, so here are the lyrics:

Cumpleaños feliz,
Cumpleaños feliz,
Te deseamos todos,
Cumpleaños feliz.


7. Festeja Tu Cumpleaños


Another version that sings Que los cumplas feliz, mixed in with an original version from Plim Plim.


8. Cumpleaños Feliz – Tambor Urbano



9. Feliz Cumpleaños


An original mix from Toobys. If you introducing vocabulary related to birthday, it includes words like pastel, globos, velitas, regalos, etc. 


10. Rompe La Piñata – Dale, Dale, Dale


You could also include traditional songs that are sung for the piñata part of a birthday party.




And just for fun– a bonus video poking fun and how long it take to sing all the songs in most countries! Maybe not for class, but a funny watch:



Do you know of any good Happy Birthday songs in Spanish that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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Happy Birthday Songs in Spanish


Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Inside: Thing bilingual moms do.


Mothering is interesting. So full of sweet moments!.. and also full of moments in which we would clearly choose teleportation of the entire family as our superpower. 

Sometimes I think my kids save up those “special moments” for the grocery store, the playground, or the dinner table at somebody else’s house. We react and handle things as best we can, hoping it’s the right thing to do. 

And sometimes, multilingualism saves the day. What can I say? Being bilingual– especially when you live in a fairly monolingual place– does give us some extra options. 

You can’t assume who speaks what around you, but it’s confession time. Here are five things I’ve actually done as a bilingual mom. Dads probably do them too. 



1. Make dire threats in the minority language.

Angry Comedy GIF by Bounce_TV - Find & Share on GIPHY


Er… I mean, redirect. Some moms have to rely on that look; we can straight up say what we need to say in that grocery store line. 


2. Bribe our children in the minority language.


Bribery is universally frowned upon in the parenting world, even though I’m pretty sure everybody does it. The good thing is we can get away with it.  Everybody around thinks we just repeated ourselves in a firm voice, and it magically worked. I’ll take it!


3. Redirect our kids in the majority language (for the benefit of other nearby parents). 


Here’s a time to break out of the minority language: when your kids clearly need redirection, and you need all the other parents around to know you’re on it.

“Honey, let that little girl have a turn too,” exchange a smile with the mom across the playground, and you’re good to go.


4. Breathe a sigh of relief when our children say something rude(after realizing nobody understood it).


Children say what they think: it’s a fact of life. It can also be horribly embarrassing. When my son once remarked that a nearby man looked like a wolf, I just prayed that the gentleman was monolingual and took the chance to quietly explain why he has to be careful saying things like that. The fact that is was said in English (and hopefully not understood) helped me play it cool and make the most of that teachable moment. 


5. Translate the positive…


My three-year-old speaks whatever language she wants, in the moment. Did she just say something polite and adorable? Well, allow me to translate that for you. 


…and lie about the negative. 


OH MY GOSH you CANNOT say that out loud.”
He loves it. Thank you sooo much.”
Don’t judge me but yes, yes, yes I’ve done this one.


6. Say sappy things to our kids without embarrassing them.


Kids too embarrassed to show affection in front of their friends? No problem if they’re bilingual. You can sneak in all the mushy-gushy things you want as you drop them off at school. And maybe you’ll get that “love you mom” back, even when they’re “too old” to say it. 




love being a Spanglish family. Of course, Spanish and English are widely spoken languages, and I should probably get going on a third, more obscure language, if I want to use of these “strategies” more effectively. #goals


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Things Bilingual Moms Do


Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

The Best Netflix Movies Set in Spain

 Inside: The best Netflix Spain movies. 


Netflix, with its ever-expanding range of options, has a growing selection of made-in Spain movies and shows. I’ve got some great titles for you here, whether you’re a native speaker or looking to keep up your Spanish skills. See my Spanish movies and shows page for tons more suggestions for Spanish-language titles, and of course let me know if I missed one of your favorites. 

 Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update!




Ready? Let’s get started.


1. Contratiempo (Invisible Guest)


A wealthy businessman is accused of murder and seeks the help of a famous lawyer to mount a defense as the last hours of his trial wind down. His storytelling of those events takes us down a darkening path of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. I multitasked quite a bit while preparing this blog post and watched movies, but this movie had my full attention, and me on the edge of my seat. If you like suspense, this is a must-watch with incredible acting.

Info: Mystery, Thriller | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017



2. Perdiendo el norte (Off Course)


A light-hearted comedy about two Spaniards who can’t find a job in Spain (despite being over-qualified on paper). Fed up with Spanish life, they move to Berlin in hopes of finding work, only to end up in a café. Life in Berlin comes with new romance, but also a host of cultural differences to navigate.

Info: Romantic Comedy | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2015



3. Fe de etarras (Bomb Scared)


Four Basque terrorists are trying to plan an attack on Spain. They wait for orders from “above,” in a Spanish apartment, and have to deal with everyday life and neighbors while unsure of the future. A dark comedy that was surprisingly compelling and funny. 

Info:  Comedy  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2017



4. Ocho apellidos (Spanish Affair)


“Cuando el sur y el norte chocan, el conflicto alcanza proporciones épicas.” Spanish culture collides when a Sevillian falls for a woman from Basque– even though he’s never before left his hometown. I didn’t love the chemistry between the main actors, but still enjoyable and cute. 

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2014



5. Ocho apellidos catalanes (Spanish Affair 2)


The couple we met in the Spanish Affair (Rafa and Amaia) have broken up. Amaia is engaged to a Catalonian her father doesn’t like, so he enlists help from Rafa to win her back and break off the new engagement. I enjoyed this one more than the first and found it more convincing, especially the storylines between the supporting characters. If you like the Spanish Affair, definitely follow up with this one.

Info: Romance, Comedy |  Spanish Audio  |  2015



6. 100 metros (100 Meters)


Based on a true story about a man with a young family who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Determined to resist the disease as long as he can, he commits to training for an Ironman– with the help of his father-in-law, who has troubles of his own. I sobbed by the end; keep tissues nearby for this heart-wrenching and inspiring story.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish |  2016




7. Bajo la piel de lobo


Starring Mario Casas, Bajo la piel de lobo tells the story of an isolated, gruff trapper who buys a wife. I am not sure how to describe the film: silent, spare, difficult, and yet compelling. You can’t go in expecting a neat, packaged conclusion, but it’s well done with good actors. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Spanish/English Subtitles  |  2018


8. La reina de España (The Queen of Spain) 


It’s 1956, and an American film company is making a movie about Isabel and Ferdinand, at the request of Franco– and Macarena Granada, now a big name in Hollywood, returns to her native Spain after 20 years to star in it. I found it slow and forced overall, but there’s a deep undercurrent of complicated Spanish history and a cast of actors that many viewers will enjoy nonetheless. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio  |  2016



9. El bar (The Bar)


A group of people are trapped in a bar in Madrid, after two people are shot and mysteriously disappear. As they try to figure out what is happening outside– terrorism? the end of the world?– tensions and suspicions rise inside the bar.

Info: Comedy, Horror, Thriller |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2017



10. Ahora o nunca (It’s Now or Never)


A couple who got together in a fairytale high school romance is getting married. The week of the wedding turns nightmare as everything goes wrong, quirky friends and family in tow. 

Info: Comedy |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in Spanish/English  |  2015



11. Nuestros amantes (Our Lovers)


Different from the usual rom-com storyline, this romantic “dramady” follows a couple who meet in a coffeeshop and decide to maintain an out-the-box-friendship: no exchange of personal information, and no romance. Things go beautifully until their personal lives intersect with fantasy, and they must confront reality.

Info:  Romance, Comedy  |  Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles  |  2016



12. 7 Años (7 Years)


Four friends are in business together, and have committed tax fraud. If one of them volunteers to go to jail for seven years, the company came remain intact and the other friends can walk free. The question is which one? They hire a consultant to help decide who it should be. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2016



13. Palmeras en la nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)


A Spanish woman travels to Africa in hoping to unearth old family secrets, after finding a letter her dying father left behind. The story moves between her search and forbidden love in the time of colonialism. 

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles in English/Spanish  |  2015



14. A cambio de nada (Nothing in Return)


A coming-of-age story about a troubled teenager figuring out life and getting into trouble with his best friend. Poignant at times, tough at others, A Cambio de Nada explores adolescence in the context of trouble at school, trouble at home, and finding friendship.

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015



15. Secuestro (Boy Missing)


A young boy is kidnapped, and his suspected kidnapper gets off on a technicality. The boy’s mother, a respected attorney, takes matters into her own hands and events soon spiral out of control. (I didn’t actually watch this one– after becoming a mom I just can’t handle scary things involving kids!)

Info:  Drama  |  Spanish Audio, Subtitles  |  2015



16. El guardián invisible (The Invisible Guardian)


A young woman’s body is found in the woods, and female inspector Salazar is put on the case. As she investigates the murder and begins to follow the case of a serial killer, she must confront her own past. (I didn’t watch this one either, but if you like serial killer murder-mysteries, this one’s for you.)

Info:  Thriller  |  Spanish Audio, Spanish/English Subtitles  |  2017


What other Netflix Spain movies do you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

Spanish Bug Books for Toddlers and Kids

Spanish Bug Books for Toddlers and Kids

Inside: Spanish bug books for kids. 


My kids are really into bugs. Sometimes I’ll find them turning over rocks in the yard to see what treasures they’ll find underneath. I’ve had to study up to learn a lot of the names myself! Today I’ve collected my favorite books about bugs in Spanish, to read as a family. (Looking for more books? See my posts on 50 Bilingual Books in Spanish and English, and 50 Authentic Picture Books in Spanish.)

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!


Spanish Bug Books for Kids


Insectos! (Dk Readers En Espanol. Level 2)

Here’s a general guide and easy reader for bugs in Spanish. I like the DK readers for non-fiction, and this one will be helpful if you have a curious child or a learning the names together. 




..Sabes algo sobre insectos?/ Do You Know about Insects? 

This is another general guide, with good realistic photos and facts about insects in Spanish. 




La araña muy ocupada (Spanish Edition)

My kids really enjoy this book, which is a delightful introduction to how spiders spin webs. The spider and her web are raised, and little hands love to feel the growing web. 




La abeja de más (Spanish Edition)

A funny fictional story about a colony of bees who discover an unknown bee has entered their hive. This is a fun look into the inner workings of a hive, the queen bee, and worker bees. 



La vida de la abeja (¡Mira cómo crece!) (Spanish Edition)

Here’s a close-up look in the entire lifespan of a bee, from egg to adult. 




La oruga muy hambrienta/The Very Hungry Caterpillar: bilingual board book (Spanish Edition)

This is one of our very favorites, and a gentle introduction into the lifecycle of a caterpillar and butterfly. It’s hard to get better than Eric Carle! 


National Geographic Readers: De la Oruga a la Mariposa (Caterpillar toButterfly) 

Here’s a non-fiction look into the lifecycle of a butterfly, witch good photos and explanations. As a non-native Spanish speaker, it’s so helpful to have the technical terms for me to learn!





La Mariposa

Butterflies are just the backstory to this touching book about a boy who doesn’t speak English in his new school, but it’s a beautiful story with beautiful pictures. 



La Mariquita Malhumorada (Spanish Edition)

Another Eric Carle treasure that’s been translated into Spanish, this one follows a grouchy ladybug who meets lots of other insects and finally learns some manners. It’s also a good peek into a ladybug’s life.





La luz de Lucía (Spanish Edition)

This story is about a little firefly who learns to accept her own uniqueness and shine her light. 





Non-fiction Guides to Specific Insects in Spanish


If you are looking for specific guides or want to have a collection about different insects, you may want to check out these titles!














If you’re looking for more activities to do with bugs in Spanish, I have a bilingual game pack, with picture cards to play Memory, Go Fish, Bingo, and a mini-book. Check it out for some extra bug fun!



Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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