If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that bilingual kids enjoy a wonderfully full basket of benefits: improved school performance, increased empathy and more opportunities just to name a few. But it’s not always easy to get there, and sometimes taking the first steps can be the hardest part.
Learning the numbers should be among the first topics in a new student’s bilingual journey. After all, math is the universal language. Numbers and figures permeate into everyday language, and the sooner they’re learned the better your child will be able to effectively and efficiently communicate.
The good news is this: counting numbers in Spanish is as easy as 1-2-3… or should we say, uno-dos-tres? Read along and check out some of our best tips and tricks to kick counting into gear.
Let’s count numbers in Spanish / Contemos! 0-20
Starting at the beginning, we’ll cover the numbers from zero to twenty.
Zero – cero
One – uno
Two – dos
Three – tres
Four – cuatro
Five – cinco
Six – seis
Seven – siete
Eight – ocho
Nine – nueve
Ten – diez
Eleven – once
Twelve – doce
Thirteen – trece
Fourteen – catorce
Fifteen – quince
Sixteen – dieciséis
Seventeen – diecisiete
Eighteen – dieciocho
Nineteen – diecinueve
Twenty – veinte
After 20 and for every integer of 10 until you reach 100, the format usually goes like this: integer of ten [space] y [space] number.
Only in the case of veinte will your child notice that the y has been replaced by i, and that’s only because it makes the pronunciation a little more fluid. After all, that very fluidity is one of the very best things about the Spanish language.
Twenty-one – veintiuno
Thirty-two – treinta y dos
Forty-three – cuarenta y tres
Fifty-four – cincuenta y cuatro
Sixty-five – sesenta y cinco
And so on. As long as your child has the basic vocabulary down, they can use the same formula to count all the way to 100!
Let’s talk a little about quantifiers
Beyond knowing the numbers, it will also benefit any child’s Spanish language journey to learn some quantifier words such as…
A lot/many – mucho/a (s)
A little/few – poco/a (s)
All – todo/a (s)
None – ninguno/a
Your child may be confused by the options for either o or a at the end of a quantifier. Simply remind them that Spanish is a gendered language and that adjective endings are either masculine or feminine depending on the noun they are describing.
Or, they may be thrown off by the option for an s at the end of the quantifying adjective. That’s just because in Spanish, the adjective is plural if the accompanying noun is. Let’s see some examples:
A lot of dogs – muchos perros
A little bit of juice – un poco de jugo
All of the toys – todos los juguetes
None of the shows – ninguno de los niños
Just like with the numbers, learning the basic structure of quantifiers will help create a template that your young Spanish learner may recall upon over and over again.
Helpful learning tools to get your child counting with confidence
Whether you’re helping a toddler or teen to count in Spanish, games always bring some excitement into the process. And we know that a student’s engagement is totally crucial to their language learning journey.
Over at spanishmama.com, teacher and mom Elisabeth has compiled a list of activities for kids who are learning the numbers in Spanish. Many of her ideas center around incorporating music into the activity, and we especially like the songs that encourage the child to sing or speak along.
Another musical educator that’s dedicated to creating fun material for children practicing dual language is José Luis Orozco. When asked what should be kept in mind when singing Spanish songs to children who primarily speak English in the National Association for the Education of Young Children, José had this to say:
“Most importantly, teachers need to keep in mind that young children are at the ideal age to learn multiple languages. The earlier that they are exposed to the vocabulary, rhythm, and cadence of another language, the better.”
Check out the science of using music as a language learning tool as well as our recommended best Spanish songs for kids here.
The Internet is full of games to help your young Spanish learner practice counting and numbers. Helpful Games offers a selection of almost 20 different activities to play, each with varying groups of numbers and styles of practicing.
At Rockalingua you can choose from a variety of formats, including games and worksheets, to practice the numbers. The good thing about Rockalingua’s number games is that the software only communicates in Spanish, meaning your kid is practicing counting and listening. Two birds with one stone, eh?
The downfall of online activities is that you can’t guarantee the student isn’t always speaking the language, which is an elemental part of working towards fluency. When creating and doing learning activities, make sure you’re prioritizing conversation in order to encourage confidence and adroitness.
Here’s an easy at-home activity that can involve the whole family and encourages talking. The rules are simple:
Find a picture online or in your home.
Each player takes turns sharing an observation about the image.
The trick is, this observation must include a number or quantifier.
If you were to use the picture below, one player might say something like this:
I see many people – Yo veo mucha gente
There are zero cars – Hay cero carros
I found only one hand – Yo encontré solo una mano
You can count on TruFluency Kids!
While songs and games are great ways for your child to practice Spanish, we know that the real language learning happens when the activities are designed just for them by experienced and excited teachers. Online or in person? One-on-one or in a group? You can choose what’s right for you and your child by contacting us today.