If you want your children to learn correct grammar and pronunciation in English, they need to start using the language often when they speak. This can be a problem in homes where English is not the first language. Giving children sufficient opportunities to practice their spoken English is critical in having them develop fluency at a young age. A concept we have often repeated throughout this site, is that language mastery comes from exposure and experience, not from memorising rules and sentence structures. This is more so when it comes to spoken English, where expressions and pauses in speech may allow sentences to be verbally expressed in ways that would seem like broken English if written. Yet, it is painfully obvious to most speakers when someone speaks in broken or poor English. Unfortunately, this invisible “rule book” of what is acceptable and what is not in spoken English cannot be memorised.
Practising spoken English is best done through conversations. This may seem obvious enough. But there is a limit to how much conversation a parent can have with a 3 or 4 year old child.
After a while, questions like “what did you do today” and “did you make any new friends in school today” can grow tremendously tiresome for both parent and child.
So how does a parent engage a child in conversation at home?
- Involve the child in adult activities around the house. For example, if you are going to do some repairs at home – have your child with you (with the necessary safety precautions taken of course). Explain what you are doing, as you are doing it and encourage your child to ask questions. Ask your child to explain things back to you. You could also ask your child for his/her opinion, for example you could ask him/her to decide whether you should wash the dishes first or do the laundry first – and ask him/her to provide a reason for his or her decision.
- Read magazines and newspapers with your child. Instead of reading children’s books – switch things around and read about politics, natural disasters, the latest inventions and new government initiatives instead. Explain things to your child and once again have them explain things back to you. Encourage them to ask questions. Ask them how they think simple pieces of news may affect directly. It may take some time before you can find content that your children can relate to, but the more you read to them, the more news they will be able to relate to, so keep to it!
- Create scripts with creative prompts. This is option provides unlimited options to create learning opportunities for your child. Scripts with creative prompts are easier to prepare than actual drama scripts, and usually way more fun to use!
A sample creative script:
Location: In a hospital
Characters (parent or child can be either character):
- John The Doctor
- Jane the Patient
Background: John is speaking with Jane who has just walked into the hospital. John wants to know what is wrong with Jane and why she is visiting the hospital.
John: Hello miss, why are you here?
Jane: Hello, my name is Jane and I am here because … <<character has to fill in the rest with his or her imagination>>
John: Oh my! That could be serious because <<character has to fill in the rest with his or her imagination>>
Characters continue the conversation based on their imagination.
As you can see, creating scripts with creative prompts is not difficult and the only limitation is your imagination!
By consistently doing point #2, the types of scenarios that you can use for such scripts will increase and you will soon be having exciting conversations in the deepest depths of space with your 5 year old child!
Finally, we would like to conclude on an important point.
There is actually no such thing as “English for kids“. Children are capable of learning very complex language and there is absolutely no reason to hold back on exposing them to difficult words or ideas. The role of the parent or educator goes beyond coaching a child to pass a test or to simply be ready for the next level in formal education. The role of the parent or educator is to develop the child to his or her fullest potential.
So, if your child is ready to tackle Shakespeare at the age of 5 and shows a genuine interest in doing so – you have to be ready to take on the Hamlet and Macbeth with him or her, or find someone who can provide the guidance your child needs!
- This post is brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team
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