Helping your preschooler to learn English at home is easier than you think. Here are five fun ideas that will help your child pick up the language quickly, and enjoy using it too.
Every child who attends a local mainstream school in Singapore should have a rudimentary grasp of English. Apart from the fact that English is one of the two main languages that children will be taught and tested in, the rest of the school curriculum is taught in English. So your child will need to be able to understand and wield the language reasonably well in order to navigate their school years with ease.
Thankfully, English is a relatively easy language to learn. This is because the English language has only 26 characters to learn to write and pronounce. One option is to hire an English tutor to help your child master the language. However, it is possible to get the job done yourself at home incorporating it into your child’s daily routine and play-time.
Here are 5 ways to do it:
1. Watch English Television Shows
Yes, we’re encouraging screen time. Wait, not just any screen time, but specific screen time. If you are learning to speak a language, hearing natives speak will be invaluable. Unless you can take regular trips to England (I wish!), or employ a tutor, the easiest way to do this is to let your children watch English TV, perhaps for an hour a day.
There are hundreds of children’s programmes that can help younger children learn English, such as Postman Pat, Fireman Sam, and other classics. Older children or teenagers could watch English films such as The Hunger Games. If you have cable access to the BBC, the children’s channel, CBeebies, has interesting programmes for kids.
2. Encourage Play and Games in English
This is an interesting way to teach your child English. It’s been proven that when children are doing something active and fun, they learn more. Find games that employ the use of flashcards; such games enhance memory, and you can quiz your children after they have learned certain words or phrases. Games like Simon Says, charades, and Snakes & Ladders can also aid your child in learning English.
If your child loves video games too, be sure to set the console language to English. Likewise, you could play English word games with your child. We love Boggle and Scrabble, which will get them to practice spelling while having fun! These will allow your child to learn new words, and consolidate their knowledge of existing words. You could then ask your little one to repeat the words, and show you how they can use the words in sentences.
3. Make Speaking English a Routine
The idea of creating a routine is to offer your children opportunities to practice the language. Why? Because repetition leads to learning. Also, everyone knows that you will learn a language more quickly if you use it frequently. The same thing applies to learning the English language.
Routines that you could introduce include reading English books, playing games in English, singing English songs, watching performances in English, and so on. Start with a short but frequent routine, and as your child gets older, you can increase the duration of those experiences.
• Speaking only English at meal-times
• Reading an English storybook before bedtime
• Learning an English nursery rhyme or an English song each week
• Borrowing English books from the library
4. Read English Story Books and Sing English Songs
As we have said, reading is a great way to learn a language, as is listening to and singing English songs and nursery rhymes. All these activities offer a unique chance for your child to learn new words and practice pronunciation. In addition, stories can engage your child and teach them how to read and speak English.
But don’t just look at the words in books. Make use of the illustrations to bring new words to life. You can point to pictures of animals while stating their names, and encourage your child to repeat new words after you.
5. Go on Playdates with English-speaking friends
This is ideal when you have relatives or friends who speak English fluently. Ask them to speak to your child in English so that your child can get comfortable listening to and communicating in the language.
Help your Preschooler Learn English Easily
As you put the above tips into practice, remember to be patient and start small. Use common day-to-day English words instead of multi-syllabic ones. You don’t want to scare your child away or make it so difficult that they simply refuse to try. Eventually, you’ll be surprised at how fast your child learns and develops their skills in English.
Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their community and beyond.