How to Teach a Child English

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Parents who are immigrants or are raising older, adopted children might have to teach them English as a second language. This can be challenging, especially if the parent has limited English language skills, or the child is quite young. Learning a language is challenging at any age, but thankfully, young children are able to quickly absorb new information. The younger a child starts, the more likely it is he will sound like a native speaker when he is grown.

  • Speak English around the home. This is the most effective way for a child to learn English. If it is important for the family to speak its native language at home, set aside a time for speaking only in English. For example, dinnertime could be an English-only time. Model the best English possible, but also show your child how he can learn how to correct himself by using a dictionary and researching language online.

  • Surround your child with native English speakers as much as possible. This might include time at school, but you can also arrange play times or other social events that will allow your child to learn quickly through play. Casual relationships with native speakers will inspire your child to learn quickly, often faster than in a structured school system.

  • Read to your child. Speaking and oral comprehension are important, but learning how to read in English will expand your child's vocabulary and help keep him thinking in English. Because English is not a strictly phonetic language, reading in English is the best way to learn proper spelling.

  • Write with your child. Even if your little one is too small to write, you can make up short stories together and write them down on paper. Stories that are only one or two sentences are all a young child will need to get them thinking creatively and seeing what English looks like on paper.

  • Use tools such as flash cards, word puzzles and other teaching tools, only when your child is fully engaged and enjoying them. Learning ESL can be a lot of work and should always be enjoyable. If a child likes games, try making a family night where you can play games like Pictionary or make up skits from English words.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always work to your child's level. Use stories and language that are appropriate for her age group. A teenager isn't going to learn much if she is reading preschooler books or hanging out with young children. Keep him motivated with peers and stories that appeal to her.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
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