- Trying to memorize all the grammar rules
Memorising all the grammar rules of English can be a challenge even for adults, and is even more of a challenge for your child, who is still trying to understand the complexities of the language. While through tremendous effort it may be possible for your child to remember all the rules of grammar, we recommend to gradually introduce grammar rules to your child using visuals or cue cards on verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. A quick check online about grammar rules shows that there are at least 30 different topics on grammar rules. A topic on adjectives, for example, has a few sub-topics, i.e. opinion adjectives, descriptive adjectives, order of adjectives, etc. As such, it will be a big challenge to ask your child to memorise all these grammar rules.
Also, speaking to your child in English daily is a more effective method to improve his or her grammar, as the grammar rules would be intuitively instilled in them. Unless your child is an academic genius, using memory to memorise ALL the grammar rules of English will not get your child anywhere, and in fact could hinder his or her language proficiency development.
- Not learning how to create complex sentence structures
A common problem which obstructs the learning development of children in English is the inability to create complex sentence structures. This can partly be attributed to the tendencies of parents to use “baby talk” when talking to their children; because their child may still be very young, parents fail to see the need to communicate to their child using proper sentences.
Generally, there are four sentence structures in the English language, and they are:
- Simple Sentences
- Compound Sentences
- Complex Sentences
- Compound-Complex Sentences
Your child will need to know how to use all four structures at some point. So why would you want to teach your child the fifth kind, i.e. the baby English kind?
Parents also tend to disregard the need for their child to learn to craft simple and compound sentences and go straight to the next two levels of sentences. Phrases like “I threw the ball” and “I threw the ball and it hit Ben” may seem so simplistic, but they are actually the building blocks to your child’s learning development. Go through both types of sentences repeatedly with your child, using a variety of adjectives before moving them to the next levels. Like stated earlier, a very common factor in children failing English is their inability to even craft simple sentences, and if this is not taught to them from a young age, they will find it even harder further down the road when dealing with complex and compound-complex sentences.
- Not knowing enough words
We cannot stress enough on the importance of simply knowing as many English words as possible
for your young child for everyone who uses English frequently. As your child grows up, he or she should be gradually equipped to be able to come up with a variety of synonyms when asked about a certain word. For example, take a simple word such as ‘big’ and imagine that your child is tasked to create an assignment based on the word ‘big’. An inability to craft different words other than big would render your child’s assignment very difficult to read. Could you imagine a slew of sentences with the word ‘big’ in every single one of them?
Another important aspect of learning the English language would be the oral examination. In a standard English curriculum in schools, oral examination forms part of the grade and the success of these examinations hinge mostly on your child’s ability to articulate enough words. A common trait of these examinations would be to describe a picture to your assessor. If your child’s command of words in the English language is rather restricted, it would most probably lead to him or her using the same words to portray different aspects of the picture. In most cases, this would then lead to your child barely meeting the passing the grade, or even worse, failing the oral exam.
- Not knowing enough information to create a story or write a logical plot
Elaborating more on the oral examination in schools as stated earlier – another common cause of failure would be not knowing enough information to create a story or write a logical plot. The right kind of television and social media exposure to your child would greatly assist in their learning development. Educational channels such as the History Channel and National Geographic can stimulate the learning growth of your child and equip them with the necessary knowledge to tell a story or articulate a certain situation.
Parents should understand the importance of learning and imparting knowledge to their child and never restrict them to only certain themes or subjects. Learning should always be made fun so that your child can absorb as much information as possible. It is really true when they say that “knowledge opens up a world of opportunities”, and in terms of learning English context, if your child does not possess enough information with him/her, it would most probably lead to them struggling with the subject.
- Not having enough exposure to content written in different styles
In their course of learning development, your child will be exposed to different styles of writing – be it in textbooks, comprehension paragraphs, examination questions, etc. It is highly imperative to ensure that your child is exposed to these different styles so that they will not get a rude shock should they encounter them during their assignments or examinations.
Give your child the opportunity to read storybooks, novels, autobiographies, biographies, comprehension passages from examination papers, etc., and not just restrict them to school textbooks. Another fantastic mode of learning for the English language would be the often ignored print media, i.e. newspapers. Newspapers typically have articles written in contrasting styles, and parents would do well to expose their child to newspapers everyday.
However, with the ever-evolving impact of social media, the novelty of newspapers seem to have worn off and as a result parents don’t see it as an important tool in the learning development of their child.
The equation is simple; if you do not expose your child to content written in different styles, they will struggle with comprehension at some point in their academic journey.
- Being unable to spell or to intuitively know a word is spelt wrong
The common misconception on spelling is that it is the least important aspect of the English Language. That is completely untrue. Spelling words correctly will greatly aid to lay the basic building blocks that your child will require throughout his or her life and education. Most children typically struggle with their spelling during the early days and they usually don’t respond well to the repetition of writing words until they get it right.
However, parents should not give up. The importance of spelling cannot be stressed enough.
Learning the spelling of new words is important to your child’s future because it is a fantastic reading aid. Being able to spell would assist in connecting sounds and letters. Studies also show that learning high frequency sight words would help with both reading and writing.
With that being said, your child should be encouraged as much as they can when they learn spelling, lest it will hinder their development in writing. They will be less receptive in writing out their assignments if they get scolded every time they misplace a vowel.
Poor spelling will be picked up by their teachers even before anything else -it is true that punctuation errors often go unnoticed, but everyone notices spelling errors.
- Not being able to read fast enough due to lack of practice
Encouraging your child to read from a young age has a variety of benefits and is often regarded as the basis to the success of your child’s academic future. To sum it all up, reading is the main kick-starter of all formal education. That is perfectly why parents should start teaching their child to read from a young age.
It is no exaggeration to say that reading can prove to be a platform for your child’s early academic success. It can trigger a zest for learning in your child and will ultimately lead to better grades for your child in every subject.
Research has shown that sound oral language skills are the main root in developing literacy capabilities of your child. When your child starts learning to read at a young age, their vocabulary is expanded, they become more fluent and their possession of general knowledge becomes higher.
As such, practice, practice and more practice is the key; so constantly encouraging your child to read will lead to a better attention span and increase in focus.
- Not knowing the difference between colloquial and formal writing
Colloquial English is defined as the English language as it is spoken; with the use of slang, vulgar language, informal words, or phrases in a piece of writing. Formal English is defined as a language which follows all the rules of grammar, with written English a classic example of formal English.
Using colloquial English is a common problem among the young – what with the rise of social media and various popular internet phrases such as “shook”, “lit”, “LOL”, “BTW” and so forth. The use of such words and acronyms can have a detrimental effect on your child’s learning development as their definitions are often skewed and if applied during school assignments, will most probably be described out of context.
Not knowing the difference between colloquial and formal writing will cause problems to your child over the years, and especially when they have to submit formal reports to your superiors or educators. The importance of knowing the difference cannot be reiterated enough, and parents should make it a point to drill the differentiation between the two points to their child.
- Not knowing basic proper punctuation
The basic use of punctuation is simple, which is to facilitate clarity and sense in sentences. It is used to provide a structure and organization to your writing. Correct punctuation is imperative in long sentences as it would then allow the reader to understand the sentences better.
If your child is unable to comprehend basic punctuation, then it is high time that you implement a few learning techniques such as giving your child an easy book for him or her to read and giving him or her 5-6 sentences to read in a session. You would have to make sure that there is variety in the punctuation used, so that your child can get used to seeing how different punctuation is used.
Like spelling, a lot of parents struggle with teaching their child punctuation because so much emphasis is placed on phonics, that teaching kids punctuation can sometimes be considered redundant.
Owing to that, for most children, the only punctuation you’ll see them use is a capital letter for the first word and a period placed after the last word. If that is indeed the case, it does not bode well for the English language proficiency of your child.
- Not knowing the difference between SMS spelling and actual spelling
Last but not least, perhaps the most blatant cause to your child’s lack of proficiency in the English language , i.e. the dreaded “SMS” language.
“You” becomes just “u”, Good becomes “gd”, thanks becomes “thnks”, and the list goes on and on. Constant use of these short-form phrases will program your child into thinking that they are correct and they may unknowingly sneak into their academic assignments. Again, this would not reflect well on your child and the educators have every right to penalize your child every time these words or phrases appear in their submissions. In fact, there is another problem where children actually know the difference between formal and SMS language, but unknowingly use SMS language in assignment due to force of habit.
To summarize, many factors can contribute to your child’s lack of proficiency in the English language but the 10 reasons that we have tabled here would hopefully assist parents out there in avoiding the pitfalls that can hamper the progress of their child in learning the English language.
Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.
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