Welcome back to part two of this series about helping your child learn English at home! If you didn’t get to see the first part, please read it first by clicking here.
So, the last time we discussed that the first and most important thing to do in helping your child to learn English is to start early. The second thing we need to do is…
I mentioned in the first point that the very young child has acquired language skills rapidly simply by listening and observing. We can follow this method by letting the child have plenty of chances to hear spoken English and connect those spoken English words with ideas in the environment.
So how can we help our children then? We let them listen to English songs, rhymes, and stories DAILY. We can do this casually or if we like something more structured, we set up an English time each day where we listen to stories, songs, and rhymes with our children. Even if you think, what is the point, they don’t understand? They are taking it all in and they WILL understand if you are consistent.
As the child gets to be around 3 to 6 months old, we must be careful to connect the spoken words to ideas in the environment in order for understanding to come. This can be done very easily through the actions and objects we come into contact with in daily life. The child will also achieve understanding through connecting the language with pictures. So, what does this look like in real-life?
When we read a story with our child, she is looking at the pictures connecting the spoken words to those ideas she sees in pictures. When we go about our daily duties like getting dressed, we talk to the child about what we are doing as we are doing it. For example: “Let’s put on your shirt, and now your pants, etc.” Songs and rhymes likewise should be connected with ideas, either in pictures or everyday objects.
We are not worried at this point about trying to teach our children anything, we just make our best daily effort to expose them as much as possible to English, while also continuing exposure in their native language.
When your child is around 1 year old he will begin to form words. Continue with the English listening practice and also give the child a chance to practice speaking. If he has been listening to English for a while, he may begin to speak English words spontaneously. It is really excellent if you have any English ability yourself, to encourage your child to speak about the things he sees in the stories as you read together.
Your story time will become more interactive and allow a bit of conversation or even just repeating simple words that the child sees from the storybook pictures like “ball” or “cat”. Before the child was simply listening to the sounds and getting used to them, now she is going to start forming the words herself. Remember, everything should just be very natural, not contrived and we need not pressure our children.
If your English is not at the level where you can discuss everyday things with your child, please see our other blog posts that contain free resources. These resources will especially be of use to you since they contain audio and/or video. Click here to get this great free story lesson that will quickly and easily help your child start learning right away. Our key purpose in this stage is helping the child to acquire an English vocabulary, an understanding of the sounds of the words and what they mean. We don’t care if he knows how to spell the word, how to read the written word, or even what the first letter of the word is. For example, all we need him to be able to do is pick up a book and know that this object is called a book.
Or when I say, bring me the book, he understands and gets the correct object and brings it to me. Or if I say, go put on your shoes, she can know what I mean and then go and do it. Also remember that an understanding of phrases and words in English is much more important at this stage (between 1 and 3 years) than actually speaking the words. Some children may speak early, others later, it doesn’t matter and we should not give pressure to the child. Everything should be done in ease and gentleness, I cannot emphasize this point enough.
Be on the lookout for our next post in the series and until then, happy learning!