June 18, 2020
As an elementary, high school, summer camp and private English teacher, I’ve met a lot of parents in Quebec who are concerned about their child’s level of English.
First off, it’s important to adjust the terminology used when referring to a child’s “level” of English. It’s more accurate to speak in terms of performance. For language learners, performance translates into the ability to convey one’s messages clearly and to understand the other person’s messages.
Create opportunities for your children to improve their language skills through daily activities. For instance, play their favourite board games in English. Listening to English music or movies, and having work-related conversations in English are also good techniques to introduce kids to learning a second language in a positive way. They will see English is a communication tool that serves a specific purpose. Moreover, language learners develop better pronunciation if exposed to original English content. When it comes to reading, make sure your child always has a dictionary handy with word phonetics in order to learn proper pronunciation. Too often, people take word pronunciation as self-evident, resulting in errors that can stick for some time.
Online Learning Material
There’s no shortage of online tools to practise English. In just a few clicks, your child can watch a subtitled English shows (beware of poor quality subtitles) or listen to thousands of songs. Similarly, audio books and online games exclusively in English can be very engaging. Your children will gain a better understanding of the language, expand their vocabulary and learn correct word pronunciation. However, make sure the Internet isn’t your only source of learning material; verb tenses, for example, deserve a structured learning method.
For younger children, a variety of random activities are perfectly suitable. However, a more structured approach will optimize learning for children 12 years and up. If you decide to sign your child up for a learning platform, make sure it includes tutoring; failure to make progress because of gaps in understanding can be frustrating and discouraging.
The key to taming a new language: fun, consistency, variety and more fun!
Enjoy and have fun!