One of the most important achievements for children of preschool age is the acquisition of language. By the age of five, the majority of monolingual children possess a vocabulary of thousands of words. In addition, before they start school, children are expected to have acquired some of the phonics of their native language. Teaching any native language to a child starts at home.
Successful speech and language development is a foundation of future learning and exploration. As such, it is essential for child’s later academic, personal, and professional success. Before we tackle the question of how to teach English to a child at home, let’s work out what is the difference between language and speech and what are the important language and speech developmental milestones in preschoolers.
The Difference between Speech and Language
- Speech is the verbal expression of language and it includes language articulation (the way we form sounds and words).
- Language is the entire system of giving and receiving information in a meaningful way that includes our ability to understand and be understood through verbal, nonverbal and written communication.
Language and Speech Development Milestones in Preschoolers
A preschooler has a rapidly growing vocabulary; a five-year-old child ought to acquire the vocabulary of approximately 1000 words. As children get more exposed to new ideas and alternative grammatical structures, the semantic and syntactic structure of a child’s language will become more complex. At the same time, thinking becomes more complex as children grow, and this accelerates their language development.
Common milestones to look out for when teaching English at home, are when preschoolers:
- Understand simple prepositions like “on”, “in” or “under”.
- Are able to name familiar objects around them or on television.
- Know how to say their first name and age as well as their friend’s names correctly.
- Are able to participate in a conversation using two to three sentences.
- Know some basic rules of grammar.
- 5 year olds should be able to use future tense in simple sentences.
Moreover, a preschooler should be able to follow two or three-steps-instructions and tell stories using full sentences. At this age, kids should also be able to remember the words of their favorite songs and poems. Also, by the age of five, a child should be able to say their full name and address without having to pause to allow recollection.
Creative Ways to Teach English at Home
Many parents are not sure how to teach English to their children at home. Whether your own English is perfect or not, try to make learning English at home a part of your child’s daily routine. Show enthusiasm and give a lot of praise and encouragement. The most important thing is that children learn through play because this is the most natural way of learning for preschoolers.
Here are some suggestions on how to teach English to a child at home.
- Encourage Reading
Books are always a perfect tool to help teach English to a child at home. Younger children would prefer books with attractive illustrations and bright colors and using such book is a good way to get children interested in reading. Encourage the child to flip the pages as you look at the illustrations together and say the words while pointing to the pictures. Ask the child to point to different things asking, for example, “Where is the dog?” then encourage the child to say the word by asking “What is that? What do you see here?” and other similar questions.
Also, read stories to your child every day. Listening to stories will get the child used to the sounds and rhythms of English and help them develop listening and reading skills.
- Play Online Computer Games
There is a great amount of free educational games that you can use as a great set of tool to help children learn English at home. Many of these games speak to a child while showing pictures and teach them pronunciation. In addition, online games such as the matching game, for instance, provide repetition of words which enables the children to repeat the word until they start to naturally pronounce it correctly. This also helps with creating memory of sight words.
Also, you will find a great source of online phonics games for preschoolers online. These games are a useful tool to teach phonics to preschoolers, helping them understand the relationship between the letters (written language) and sounds (spoken language).
- Provide a Variety of Toys and Games
Children will learn spontaneously and effortlessly when they are having fun. There is a wide variety of educational and fun toys that promote language and speech development in children. For example, a great tool for teaching English to a child at home are pretend-play toys.
Preschoolers develop their imagination through play, and with imagination, their language and speech development will thrive. Therefore, provide lots of different dress-up clothes and items, kitchen sets, tools and doctor sets that will boost the child’s imagination and English language skills. These toys will encourage the child’s creativity and independence. Also, toys like building sets, blocks, tunnels and tents will further encourage the child’s speech and language development and boost their imagination and confidence.
Another effective way to teach vocabulary and practice English at home are to play games with flashcards. There are many fun and engaging games which you can play with flashcards such as action games, memory games, word games and board games. On Kids English College™! we have a wide range of free electronic flashcards on Teaching Tools page.
- Sing Together
Songs are a great way to teach your child new words and improve their pronunciation. Particularly convenient for young children are movement and action songs because they allow the kids to take part even if they are not able to sing the song. These songs follow the action that demonstrates the meaning of the words in the song. You can sing to children as you ride in a car or bus, visit the zoo, go to a mall, dress up, prepare food, have a bath, etc.
- Establish a Routine for Teaching English at Home
Let your child know that there is a routine for English time at home. Try to have a schedule and do the same activities at the same time every day because children feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. For example, you can play short online English games each morning after breakfast or after school, sing on your way to and from school or read stories to your child before bedtime.
Plan short and frequent sessions that will be filled with fun and engaging activities in order to hold your child’s attention and interest. For preschoolers, a fifteen-minute session is enough. Of course, as the child gets older, you can make English learning sessions gradually longer.
Teaching English to a child at home gives the best results when presented through play. Therefore, ensure that learning at home is fun and engaging, so children don’t get overwhelmed and frustrated. Also, keep in mind that repetition is crucial – repeat the words and phrases to a child as many times as needed until they feel ready and confident to produce them themselves.
Please leave your comments down below with any questions you may have!
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