"Play is our brain's favourite way of learning." Diane Ackerman

You must remember that when teaching younger children a new language, you cannot teach it in the same way as you would teach adults. In order to make the learning of the English language a memorable experience, you must make learning fun for children. Disguising the learning process by allowing your child to play games that promote language learning is one way to ensure that your child is having fun while learning.

Nevertheless teaching English as a second language will prove to be a highly valuable experience for your child especially when he or she grows up and goes out into the real world. Here are some tips for teaching English as a second language to your child.

While the tips for teaching English as a second language may be helpful, let's look at some ideas for teaching English vocabulary to young learners.

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Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary to Young Learners

"Fun + learning = the best educational experience." Tamara L. Chilver

You would be doing your child a favour by letting him or her enrol for English second language lessons from a very tender age. It is a proven fact that children are able to grasp words easier when they are younger. Using the analogy of a child's brain being like a sponge that is ready to soak up any information that is fed to him or her, young learners would be able to learn the language quickly. You must, however, remember that children lose their focus rather easily too. In order to keep your child focused, you have to ensure that you are teaching English vocabulary in an interactive and fun way. Your first idea to succeed in teaching new words to children is to find fun ways to teach these new words.

wooden letters spelling the word play
Teaching English vocabulary to English second language speakers is a step towards success. Source: Pexels

So if you are thinking about how it would be possible to incorporate fun into something as serious as language learning, do note that there is no harm in mixing learning with fun. Research from educational psychologists indicates that children do retain more information when they are having fun as opposed to when they are just being spoon-fed the information. Then again you ought to remember that each child is different and each child has his or her own idea of fun. So in other words, you have to adapt your teaching methods to your child and what he or she likes.

As easy as it is to get lost in the requirements of teaching something entirely new, you must remember that if you are teaching English to younger children, you will reap more benefit not if you teach them in a mature way but by teaching them in a way that will have an impact on them and be relevant to their age level. So how can you make sure that your child can grasp new English words?

Animated English Cartoons Means Animated Learning

Children enjoy watching cartoons. Certain cartoons such as, "Peppa Pig," are very impactful for teaching children new words in the English language. Children become so engrossed in these animated shows that they start picking up basic English words at such a rapid pace. Due to the words being said in context, children also start to understand what the words mean. In an episode of, "Teletubbies", the word, "flower," was taught. Flowers floated across the television screen as the word, "Flower," was repeated several times. By the time the episode was over even a one-year-old could remember what flowers looked like and how to pronounce the word.  Although you barely ever think that watching television shows is beneficial for your children, it certainly is an excellent tool to get children to learn a new language.  As appealing as it may sound to just leave your child in front of the television to learn the English language, you must remember the English language in its entirety cannot be grasped from this one activity alone.

shows help language learning
Animated shows such as Peppa pig can teach new words as well as sentence construction to second language English speakers. Source: Unsplash

English Songs to Increase Retention and Fluency

Like animated shows, songs also grab children's attention. Younger children especially like recalling song lyrics so they can sing along to songs. Ask any parent of a toddler and they are bound to mention how often they have to watch, "Cocomelon" or "The LooLoo Kids" at their homes. Children enjoy the rhythm and beat of these songs and seriously enjoy dancing and singing along to them. While children are fooled into thinking they are merely having fun by singing certain lyrics, they are actually learning new words in the process.

By singing various lyrics for different songs, children actually become more fluent in speaking the language and pronouncing certain words. You could even step it up a notch by using Youtube to show videos of songs with included written lyrics so that children who can read can catch glimpses of the lyrics and remember the lyrics all the more. Yet again this is another activity that could be used to influence vocabulary retention and ensure that your child learns to pronounce words properly.

teaching English through music
Listening to English songs will get non-native speakers to become aware of the English words contained in the lyrics. Source: Unsplash

English Games

One way to teach vocabulary is by playing some fun games. While you might shy away from using a game because of the amount of preparation required to create a game, you can always rope in your child to help with the preparation for the game. While hangman is commonly used to teach vocabulary, there are many other games that you could create to teach a whole new word bank for your child. The clothing line game is one such game that can be used to teach words, and form sentences using the words learnt.

You could create piles of words in the form of  T-shirts, pants and dresses that have been cut out and laminated. Place different cut-outs in piles that are organized based on the different part of speech. You will have a pile for nouns and one for verbs and so on. Allow your child to choose words from the different parts of speech piles. Your child must then use a peg to peg the words chosen to formulate a full sentence on a makeshift washing line. You can even arrange and rearrange words in sentences so that your child can get familiar with more words and different types of sentences: simple, compound and complex.  Once your child becomes well acquainted with words you can play more sophisticated games that have already been created like Scrabble and Pictionary.

Children's English Language Course for English Learning

"What we learn with pleasure we never forget," Alfred Mercier

Up until now, we have been focused on finding creative ways to teach your child how to speak English as a second language fluently. Having learnt of the importance of teaching English to your child in a fun way, you must remember that children love interacting with other children. Perhaps you feel that your child doesn't seem to learn well with you being the teacher. This can be frustrating especially when you are trying to teach new vocabulary to your child who just refuses to learn. This is where you would surely benefit from knowing there are options to learn the language outside of the home setting.

While you may be hesitant to send your child for an English Language course at first, you will surely see the link between fun and learning in these classes. Children will prefer to learn to speak the language to other children far more than they will enjoy learning the language alone. In a group setting children can motivate each other to learn as well as make learning fun for each other. So while you can choose to send your child to an English language course filled with other enthusiastic English learners, you could also choose to enrol your child for private English lessons.

Teaching New Vocab for Kids through Speaking

"Fun is just another word  for learning." Raph Koste

If you are fluent in a language, you can surely teach the language to your child.  Children pick up many new words as well as sentence formation through everyday conversations with their parents. Even as a second language English speaking parent, you can help your child pick up English vocabulary just by speaking to him or her. If you feel that you are not stimulating your child enough through conversations, you can always opt for an online conversational English course for your child.

There are a variety of private tutors offering fun and interactive conversational English classes. A conversational English course uses basic everyday conversations to teach the language and encourage fluency when conversing in English. A private tutor can prompt your child to answer questions being posed to him or her as well as scaffold the language learning. If children enjoy their conversations with their tutor or are using creative activities that promote conversations, they will enjoy doing these activities all the more. When children are unaware that they are learning, they actually have more fun learning.

hello is a conversation starter
Learning to speak English can occur when your child takes conversational English classes. Source: Unsplash

Whether you choose to opt for a private English tutor or you teach your child English yourself, you must encourage the use of the English language every day. When you incorporate the switch to the English language seamlessly in everyday conversations, your children will learn to do the same and use English in daily conversations too.

Online Applications for Learning Vocabulary

There are also many online applications and interactive activities that you can utilize to get your child to learn new vocabulary. From colourful word games to interactively stimulating match games, you can find many applications that you can use to help your child master new English words. Aside from games, there are multiple apps that can be used to inspire all forms of English learning. You could make use of online books that you can use to read stories to your child as well. This way you know that your child will be kept engrossed by the voice of the virtual story-teller who will use intonation and  inflection to sustain your child's attention.

Encourage your child to learn English in fun ways and you surely will succeed in making your child speak the language more proficiently.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.