Read Aloud in Spanish | Reading Activities

Language learners believe immersion is the best way to learn, however reading aloud is a great way to practice reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. Parents want to know how to read aloud with their kids. Teachers read aloud to their students because it is a great activity for comprehension without the difficulty of reading.

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How do you have a read aloud time?

At any age, reading aloud is a good way to practice all the language skills. A learner can read aloud alone, with their family and friends, in a class, in an online group or with a community of learners. In fact, having multiple learners at different levels is ideal.

What is reading aloud in Spanish?

The English phrase “read aloud” is translated “leer en voz alta” in Spanish.

Read Aloud Definition

Read aloud is a language learning activity where a book is read out loud for listeners to hear.

Reading Aloud spanish in Classrooms – Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary

Many are familiar with read aloud time in preschool or kindergarten. After lunch, all the kids ran to get the best spot on the carpet first. The teacher sat in the rocking chair with a book in hand. She whispered, “shhhh… sit quietly”. Everyone looked at the pictures and listened to the story for the next 20 minutes.

That’s what read aloud looks like in a children’s classroom. Yet, reading aloud can be different for different kinds of language learners.

reading aloud for homeschool spanish

At one point or another, some states usually require homeschool students to learn a foreign language. Even without a requirement, some parents want their kids to become bilingual for many reasons. This is hard for parents who don’t know another language and can’t afford private tutors or extra programs. But, reading aloud is easy for any parent to do with a book, an audio book or online read aloud.

parents reading aloud with kids in Spanish

Then there are the parents who know another language or are brave enough to read aloud in a foreign language. Any parent who values language is awesome, of course. This is exactly what I did with my children:

Before, I opened the book and scanned for a couple new words. I wrote them on the dry erase board and sometimes drew a picture or showed them what it was. They wrote the word in the Spanish notebook and said it back to me.

Then we all pulled out our cozy blankets and found our favorite spot in the living room. I usually had a hot drink in one hand and a book in the other. They were ready to listen and draw what they heard. I only read a short bit and quickly discussed whatever caught their attention.

Always, I will treasure those memories of time we spent learning together. They weren’t the only ones, I learned a lot every time I taught and modeled the language to them. We had no formal lessons because this was enough to practice the language skills.

We read aloud in Spanish. Do you?

Reading Aloud By Yourself

So far, a teacher or parent read to kids, yet reading aloud can be done alone. Any language learner, at any age, can read aloud too. Instead of reading silently, speak the words to yourself and listen. It’s good pronunciation practice for your speaking skills without having to think of something to say. And, you get to listen to spoken Spanish at your pace.

Reading Aloud in Groups – Book Clubs

Another way of organizing a read aloud time is with a group. This is how book clubs function. Some read privately, instead the book club can get together to read aloud together. Then, afterwards everyone can ask questions and discuss what was read.

person reading a book

Why do you read aloud in Spanish?

Everything in learning a language comes down to words. Books are a great source of words, phrases and sentences with examples of how they are used. When read aloud they create a language rich environment, some might call home-based Spanish immersion. The benefits of reading aloud impact the quality of your Spanish language skills and even your social connections.

Spanish Read Aloud Book Benefits

spanish books as source of language

First, books contain countless words and examples of their use. Each thought is expressed in a unique structure and style. There is description of people, places, events, objects and ideas. Each sentence has action and interaction between elements. Some cover complex concepts or the simplest of themes. All of which can be read at your pace and analyzed.

spanish books as source of dialogue

Secondly, especially in narrative or stories, there are examples of conversation. One of the hardest parts of learning a language is understanding speech. Yet, books have conversations written down for you to read, repeat and analyze. You can examine how people make demands, ask questions, express desires and state fact and emotions.

Spanish books for skills practice

Finally, each of the four language skills can be practiced using a Spanish book. During read aloud time, listen, speak, read and write from the text. Any number of skills practice can be added to the reading.

Benefits of Reading Aloud Spanish Books with Family and Friends

Bonding.  Reading aloud is a way to connect with friends and family. Priceless conversations will come from the stories and information. The time spent together is a treasure. And hopefully a time everyone will look forward to.

Attention span. Life skills are developed too. The ability to focus, sit still and listen actively are important skills to have. And the ability to use the imagination and be creative are essential to a well developed mind. Reading aloud provides opportunity to do both.

Knowledge. The learning topics are endless. At the same time you pick a book, you also pick the topics the book contains. Every book has unique combination of time, place, characters, settings. Often, the message will expose you to new information and ideas.

Flexibility. There are so many options from location to books. You choose what, when and where to read. The books are inexpensive and portable. So, you can read at home, in the yard, at the park or a meeting place for book club. Sometimes it’s a great solution for creating a quiet time in the afternoon or bedtime. Or, you can squeeze it in at breakfast or dinner time.

Ready to read aloud in Spanish?

Spanish Read Aloud Books

First of all, choosing a good read aloud book is the key to a productive reading time. Really, any ordinary book written in Spanish can be used. A couple considerations will guide your selection. This list of Spanish books breaks down your options into different categories, such as genre, subject, reading level. Go with your favorites.

smiling woman wearing a sun hat and reading a book

How to Read Aloud

Aside from the traditional classroom style, anyone can read aloud to practice the Spanish language skills. This takes a focused approach where vocabulary, grammar and skills are considered in the reading process. So, below you’ll find tips to structure your reading time and different reading activities.

How do you conduct a read aloud activity?

Even more important than the reading itself, the language learning happens before, during and after the reading. In total, a reading time can last a total of 10 minutes to an hour. Nevertheless, about 30 minutes is a good target for the average learner.

Read Aloud Activity Structure

  1. Before Reading Discussion – 5 minutes
  2. Reading Aloud – 10 minutes
  3. After Reading Discussion – 5 minutes

These are my target time frames. I leave an extra ten minutes as wiggle room for any part that needs extra attention. Occasionally, you may need more or less time. But, keep in mind this is a short and sweet activity.

Be careful to not let it turn into a frustrating and unpleasant experience. It is better to stop and reassess than to continue and sink deeper into a bad time. Later, you can try again after following the strategies below.

Part 1: Before Reading Discussion

5 minutes

Before reading, scan the page and choose a couple of new words. Then write them down and define them. Visual examples are the best kind, such as the item or a picture. This preparation will help increase reading comprehension. Not understanding what is being said has to be the biggest obstacle, especially for beginners.

books
  • Write selected words, phrases, sentences on board
  • Show, define and explain meaning of the word
  • Ask a starter question

Spanish Only Limitation

Another big pitfall is getting stuck in translation mode. A good way to avoid this is limiting yourself to images and using only Spanish. This means, if all you know is one word, use it. Or if all you have is a picture, start drawing. You can use objects too.

For example, for the Spanish word “olla”, I showed my kids the pot from the kitchen cabinet. Right away they connected this new word with the real object.

Alternatives to translation

  • Act it out
  • Draw a picture
  • Show the object or a picture of it

using a dictionary for definitions

Of course, there has to be a starting point for understanding what a new word means. So, use a dictionary or translator to learn what a new word represents. But after that stick to using what Spanish you know.

Linguee Online Dictionary >>>

For learners who have no experience, a Spanish-English translation is alright. However, the best resource is a Spanish to Spanish dictionary. Transition to using these as soon as possible. The better you are at this, the less you will feel the need to translate what you hear and say.

Questions to Start Read Aloud Time

After introducing the new words, a brief introduction or question triggers listening engagement. Asking a question prepares the listener to focus on key elements in the reading.

Introduce the book and author:

El titulo es… — The title is…
El (la) autor (autora) es… — The author is…

one word read aloud questions for beginners

¿Quién? — Who?
–¿Dónde?
— Where?
–¿Cuándo?
— When?

Spanish Read aloud Questions

¿Qué es importante? — What is important?
Dime lo que recuerdas. — Tell me what you remember.
¿Qué sucederá a continuación? — What will happen next?

This type of discussion is flexible for every level. A beginner will use words. Intermediate will be able to say a complete thought. Advanced will put together complex statements with specific vocabulary.

a family reading a story to their son

Reading Aloud

10 minutes

Now, the reader reads and the listeners listen. But it’s more than that. Everyone, including the reader is actively listening. What exactly does this mean?

The Task of the Reader During Read Aloud Time

Not only is this learner reading, but also simultaneously speaking at the same time. That’s a lot of multitasking. If you’re alone you are your own listener too. You get to focus on how to say the words right, since you don’t have to come up with your own words to say. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your pronunciation. You may want to keep a pronunciation guide handy.

The Task of the Listener During Read Aloud Time

Most importantly, the listener is focusing on understanding what is being said. The distraction of reading is gone. The only task left is turning new words into passive and active vocabulary – listening comprehension.

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What can students or learners do during read aloud?

As a consequence, the listener can engage with the text in these ways:

  • keep a notebook or word bank of new words
  • draw more detail for vocabulary
  • build a model with blocks, legos or dough

Although a beginning listener won’t understand much in the beginning, consistent practice will increase their listening skill over time. The temptation is to be discouraged or overwhelmed and give up, but don’t. It will get easier and better with lots of good practice.

Questions to During Read Aloud Time

In the middle of reading, questions will draw everyone back into listening carefully for details. A strategic question will keep everyone focused and engaged with the unfolding story or information. And at the end, a question can test the reading comprehension.

Ask a thought provoking question

¿Es verdad? — Is this true?
¿Estas de acuerdo? — Do you agree?
Dime sobre… — Tell me about…

Stop at a pivotal moment for a cliffhanger

¿Qué sucederá a continuación? — What will happen next?

Any of these questions at the right time will provoke thought. If anyone has zoned out, this may bring them back into active listening, or at the end into discussion.

After Reading Discussion

5 minutes

Finally, conclude the reading time with a simple review or discussion. The purpose is to show what the listener understood and an opportunity to practice the skill of speaking.

  • Write selected words, phrases, sentences on board
  • Define and explain meaning
  • Ask an ending question

How can we talk about what we read in Spanish?

Questions to Finish Read Aloud Time

After reviewing the new words, a brief conclusion or question triggers a conversation. Asking a question helps the listener to express their thoughts about the reading. End with a question to retell the story or main points or respond to the text.

beginner retelling a story or facts

Since beginners are limited, it would be easy enough to pick a word, sentence or phrase from the reading to read aloud. Or to show their understanding, do one of the following:

  • Make a notebook page
  • Act out a scene
  • Make a map
  • Do a presentation about what you learned

Prompts to retell the story or facts

¿Qué leí? — What did I read?
¿Qué harías? — What would you do?
Dime que entendiste. — Tell me what you understood.
¿Qué sucederá a continuación? — What will happen next?

This step concludes the read aloud time and activities.

photo of man holding a book

Spanish Read Aloud Strategies

Overall, expectations need to be managed. It’s ok for beginners to do nothing at all but listen. And listeners need to get comfortable not understanding for awhile. Because, growth takes time and consistent practice. So, always scale the activities to the learners experience and make it easy all the time.

Comfortable, Fun and Cozy

What’s most important is being relaxed, happy and ready to learn. Tension kills the ability to learn anything new. From the start, approach reading aloud as something special, because it is a rewarding activity. Find a book all of you will enjoy with lots of pictures. The best set up for the occasion is a comfortable and cozy environment. And do your best to eliminate distractions.

Clear Expectations

Certainly, the best expectation is realistic. Success can only happen when it is achievable. A good universal fact is none of us understand anything. Sound crazy? Not really, because we all start at zero. And none of us know for sure if what we are about to read will make sense. Because, it is not a language we have learned, yet. Skills practice is a process.

Be Selective

The options are unlimited, but I would definitely limit them to what is easy and interesting to the reader and listeners. Even the best books can be slow or too hard. At any point you can stop, skip or repeat. By stop, I mean stop the book completely and move on. A new book may be a better choice.

Scale to Match Skill Level

Like I said before, everyone can read aloud together at any skill level. However, some adjustments may be necessary. Scaling down benefits even the most advanced learners. The starting point is the reading level of the book. Other changes are possible too:

Too Hard?

  • Read smaller portions
  • Lower reading level
  • Repeat sentences, paragraphs or sections
  • Focus on words, phrases, or sentences

Too Easy?

  • Read larger sections
  • Higher reading level
  • Add more challenging activities to reading time
  • Focus on writing

Share and Reward

Each step in the read aloud activity allows for interaction between reader and listeners. Regularly allow for opportunities for everyone to share their growth. Advanced model skills for the beginners and likewise, beginners emphasize the basic skills for the advanced to perfect.

Also, support, encourage and reward each person. This motivates more learning effort in the future and positive mindset shifts.

With these strategies in mind, it’s time to put them into read aloud practice.

More Spanish Reading Tips:

Spanish Reading

Spanish Books for Skills Practice

​Spanish Books for Beginners | Phonics Sounds and Syllables

Beginning Spanish Books – Fables

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