"The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it." Jonathan Culver
As a parent, we barely ever think about whether we intend for our children to be bilingual or multilingual from the time that our children are born. However, when your child reaches 1 year old and his or her vocabulary starts expanding in his or her home language, you tend to consider the thought of teaching them another language as well. Between 1 year and 2 years of age, your child will mimic every word or phrase that you utter much like a parrot. You will also be able to see your child connecting words to concrete objects. If you ask your child for a "book," you will notice that your child will bring you exactly what you have asked for. Seeing this will make you want to push the second language learning all the more.
Remember while younger children grasp words and phrases more easily, there is really no need to rush the process. You can take baby steps when it comes to teaching your child English as a second language and you don't need to leap by focusing on correct grammar rules and introducing every single part of speech and figure of speech from the onset.
We recommend that you start by making your child's English learning journey as fun as you possibly can. You can simply start off by teaching your child common verbs. Being doing words, you can link every single verb to an action. If you start with the word, "Jump," make sure you show your child what jumping looks like. Use fun-filled verbs so that you can perform the doing word while teaching it. As basic as this exercise may seem, it will surely distract your child from the fact that he or she is actually learning in the process. The more fun you make English learning, the more excited your child will be to learn the English language. Here are some tips for teaching English as a second language to your child.
So how can you make your child want to learn the language?
What else can you do to make English language learning fun for your child?
Using Children's Books for Learning English
"The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself." Dereck Walcott
The best way to teach your child is to ignite their imagination through the reading of fictional stories. Children love to get lost in the realm of magic, witches, fairies and ghouls. You could even start off the English teaching process by getting your child to understand that a language like English exists. You could choose a fun new English bedtime story to read to your child every night. Your child might initially be startled when you read the story in English which at that point will sound totally foreign to your child.
You can then translate each page read into the child's native language so that he can understand what was read. Allow your child to look at the pictures and predict what he or she thinks is happening in the story before you actually translate the story from English into his or her native language. You could make this reading experience a learning one too. The more books you read, the more you will find certain English words repeated. For instance, you may see the words, "prince" or "princess" being repeated in every fairytale.
Every time you stumble across a commonly used word, make mention of it. In this way, your child will also familiarise himself or herself with some words in the language. You can even start off as slowly as this. Remember the more you use the language in your home, the more inclined your child will be to learn the language.
Children's English Learning Exercises that are Beneficial
"English language is a strange paradise. It's where fish flies and sparrow swims." Vishal Yadav
When teaching a second language or any foreign language that is not normally taught at school, try to deviate as much as possible from the commonly employed teaching methods used at school. Try to be as creative as possible when teaching the English language. Make the home environment a fun environment to enforce language learning.
English exercises need not be worksheets that are usually used at school. You can even teach words in the language or even allow your child to learn instructions by incorporating real exercises into your teaching hour. You could play a game of, 'Simon Says' or even put your own spin on the game by calling it, 'Mummy Says.' Give instructions in English and see if your child responds by performing the right type of exercise. You could use simple instructions such as jump on the spot, wave your hands in the air and jog on the spot when you just start out.
While incorporating real exercise into learning will be a dream for kinesthetic learners, you can also cater for children who are visual learners when you plan your English exercises. You could do exercises such as match the respective flashcard word to the correct picture. This is also an excellent exercise to teach vocabulary to your child. You will allow your child to picture the words that he or she is learning about. You can even step up this activity a notch by asking for the English word for certain objects that you spot when you are out shopping. You could either point to a bottle of milk and ask your child to say the correct English word or you could ask your child to bring you a bottle of milk in English and see what he or she brings.
The more you incorporate the English language into your daily activities, the more natural the process of second language learning will become.
English Websites for Kids to Enforce English Learning
"The English language is so elastic that you can find another word to say the same thing." Mahatma Gandhi
While the inspirational figure, Mahatma Gandhi, saw the English language as being elastic, learning methods that you can employ to teach the language can be just as flexible. You can use the many available online resources to help your child get acquainted with the language.
Reading Eggs makes reading in English an interactive and fun process. Reading Eggs provides interesting stories for children between the ages of 2 to 12. Reading Eggs incorporates songs, games and rewards to motivate children to love reading and to continue reading. You will be surprised at how impactful positive praise is when teaching children a new language. A kind word may change your child's whole attitude towards learning the English language.
The Cambridge English website also has many activities for children to try. There are different activities for children functioning on different language learning levels. Everything from body parts to animals can be learnt by simply allowing your child to try out these online activities.
You could also visit some popular author websites like The Roald Dahl website or the Lemony Snicket website which has many activities that are fun for children to try. From word searches to crossword puzzles, children will be delighted to use these activities. You can pair these online activities and tasks with the viewing of shows on Netflix. Lemony Snicket's book, "A Series of Unfortunate Events," has been made into a series is on Netflix. You can also find some of Roald Dahl's classical movies like, "Matilda" featuring on Netflix.
The online platform can also assist with English language learning through the availability of a variety of songs. The use of songs and nursery rhymes can prove to be highly beneficial. You can play an English song for your child who will learn the lyrics to the song and eventually sing along.
You can also opt for the occasional learning method whereby parents and children get together to be involved in some aspect of the English language. The National Children's Theatre situated in Parktown features regular children plays of famous classics. Children can be delighted by, "Disney in the Park" events. It is here that your child will get to mingle and mix with other English speaking children. Interacting with other children will enable your child to understand the value of learning how to speak English in South Africa. The more you expose your child to the English language, through movies, plays and by exposing them to first language English speaking children, the better it will be.
Zoom English Lessons
If you find that your child has taken a keen interest in the English language, you can even make the learning of the language more structured. There are many private tutors or even English second language courses that are offered for an hour weekly over Zoom. Children gain much joy from learning the language using an online platform. You will even notice how effectively an English tutor can use Total Physical Response (TPR) online to get learners to link the appropriate gestures with the corresponding words. T
he more sophisticated the English lessons are that your child attends weekly, the more able your child to excel in the language. Zoom English language tutors are well versed in the language and utilise effective teaching methodology to ensure that learners get to grips with English vocabulary and concepts and to make sure that no learner falls through the cracks.
The main step to ensure that your child will want to learn English and will like to learn English is by choosing the correct activities to use to teach the language. There are multiple resources available at your disposal and you need to take some time to decide which resources you would like to use to teach the language.