As parents and family members, you play an important role in helping your child enjoy learning English. Here are some tips that help children develop their language ability.
Tips for Pre-school, Kindergarten and Primary Students
Fun activities that help children develop their language ability
Expand your child’s vocabulary by playing word games. It can be as simple as pointing out items at home or during a road trip e.g. ‘I am now mixing the butter into the batter’. You might even share background information about these words. Games like Scrabble and Pictionary also encourage vocabulary development and communication skills.
Fun ways to use words and paint pictures of scenes or situations. Read or say riddles aloud to each other and explain to your child the different definitions of a single word.
Promote listening and comprehension skills by playing with words that sound the same but have different meanings. Allow your children to think of words that sound alike and let them try to define each one, e.g. ‘school’ as in a place of learning and ‘school’ as in a group of fish.
Exchange stories about daily events with your child. Broaden their imagination with fantastical stories and let their creativity grow as you make up stories about anything and everything around them.
Tongue twisters are an excellent and fun way to develop clear and accurate pronunciation. Start with simple ones and work your way up.
Motivate your child to speak English
Teaching English to children can be challenging to parents. How can you motivate them to use the language often?
We have come up with five tips to motivate your child to speak the language.
1. BE ENTHUSIASTIC AND INVOLVED
Learning the English language starts with the parents! If your child sees you reading, watching films and speaking in English, they will be inspired to do the same. Actively involve yourself in your child’s English learning experience, rather than expecting them to study on their own. Giving your child lots of praise, encouragement and support will increase their self-confidence and motivation.
2. PERSONALISE YOUR LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Parents know their child best. To make learning English an enjoyable and rewarding experience to your child, make sure to involve them in fun activities that suit their personality and interests. Very active children may like to play action games, while quieter children may prefer word games or card games. If your child likes sport, they will enjoy stories and vocabulary games about sport. Ask them which activities they prefer doing to give you an idea of the activities you can prepare for your child.
3. JUDGE YOUR CHILD’S MOOD
Try to choose the right time to encourage your child to practise their English skills. Don’t ask them to do activities when they are tired and grumpy, or they will feel stressed. It is important to try to figure out their moods: when are they receptive and alert? If, after starting an activity, you notice that your child is not receptive, it is better to try again later rather than forcing them to continue.
4. PROVIDE MEANINGFUL SITUATIONS
Children love role-playing and using their imagination. Suggest some situations, such as at the toy shop, on the bus, at the restaurant, etc. and ask your child to choose. Take turns playing different roles (e.g. customer and shopkeeper) and give language support as necessary. If they use phrases in their first language, don’t forget to repeat what they have said in English. Gradually your child will produce more of the speaking parts in the dialogues.
Make-believing the situation creates an immediate need to use English for your child. This also motivates them to use it in similar activities and events, thus boosting their confidence to use the language more. When you create a situation, try to use real objects (plates and cutlery for a restaurant) to increase their involvement in the game.
Remember: the more enthusiastically you play your role, the more motivated your child will be!
5. FIND WAYS FOR YOUR CHILD TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS IN ENGLISH
Having a genuine reason to communicate in English provides a high level of motivation. If possible, enrol your child in English classes that are designed to develop your child’s confidence in communicating in English. A classroom environment is the perfect setting for your child to learn English with their fellow children. Once they have gained enough confidence at school, your child will be able to use the language at home.