With more than half of the population in Malaysia being proficient in English, it’s not hard to understand why people are really trying to get their children to grasp the language. But for households that do not use English as their first language, mastering the lingua franca and passing it down to our little ones can be a tad of a challenge. Understanding that, here we have prepared seven effective ways that will surely improve your kid’s English.
Discover learning through visual media
While some parents ‘abhor’ the idea of exposing their kids to media like Youtube and television, actually child-targeted programmes and videos are very powerful in facilitating language learning. They are also an effective tool to teach your little ones of moral values. Therefore, rather than completely dismissing them from your child’s routine, parents should be wise in controlling the consumption of these media. Perhaps set one hour a day for them to watch their favourite programme.
Read English storybooks to your children
Illustrated storybooks with simplified language are the best kind of storybooks for kids. Through repetition of simple words reinforced with the visual clues, children get to expand their vocabularies quicker.
Furthermore, by listening to your storytelling, your children are also subconsciously learning about aspects of language like pitch, volume, and gestures. As they observe you tell them the stories, they get more confidence in their oral skill.
For bigger kids who can already read, let them choose their own storybooks rather than dictating what’s best for them. We want them to find fulfilment in reading, not seeing it as a boring task.
Songs and nurse rhymes are not just great in exposing children to new words in a way that catches attention, they also help to improve children’s pronunciation because they are full of rhyming words. In fact, it is such an effective tool to teach language, whatever songs you teach them now will probably be passed down to your great-grandchildren!
Plus, understanding of how rhythm works is a precursor to a good writing skill in the future. So if you are already doing this then you are on the right track.
Avoid baby talk
Some parents would dumb-down their language or resort to what is more known as ‘baby talk’ as they feel that babies are not able to comprehend adults’ speech. ‘Baby talk’ is characterised by a high pitch, shorter phrases, longer pauses between phrases, and clearer pronunciation.
But recent studies have proven otherwise. It was found children are able to cope up with the adult language, so when adults speak to their child normally, children learn to speak like that, hence their speech is more coherent.
Do not over-correct your child
If English is your child’s second language, the chances are, they are going to make mistakes. But the process of learning and decoding the pattern of a new language isn’t that easy, so it will take time. Try to not over-correct your little ones as it will dishearten and subsequently hamper their development.
Over-correcting will only discourage your kid from trying. It may even impede her from speaking or writing. Alternatively, you show them what is the right way of saying it or paraphrase their sentences. You may say “Son, I think you meant this…, is it?” This method does not put down your children and they can also learn how to say what they want properly.
Play games with your little ones
Perhaps one of the best way to teach a concept or language is through play. That is why famous pedagogies like Montessori and Reggio Emilia emphasised play-based learning in their classroom. It does not put pressure on children and allow them to adopt the language more naturally.
Among simple games that are helpful for language learning is Simon says (listening), charades (speaking), and Hangman (vocabulary).
Bring them shopping
Apart from the fact that this is fun for the parents ( Moms especially), take this opportunity to teach and reinforce your little one’s vocabularies. When you go for grocery shopping you can teach them about food, fruits and vegetables. If you go to the mall you can teach them about body parts and types of clothing. You can even ask them to read out the numbers on the price tags to test their memory. Be creative!
Last but not least, as much as we understand that English mastery is important, we believe that it is more important to make the process of language learning fun. We hope that our list helps in finding ways to improve your children’s English. If you haven’t ticked all the things on this list, then you should try them. If you have, then keep up the good work!
Parenting in the Digital Age
Subscribe now to get a FREE guide, latest updates and more!