A wise person once said, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. Speaking English in a fluent manner is a skill children can struggle with when it’s not their first language. As a parent, it’s important to understand this struggle to help your children overcome it. Here are 6 tips to help your child’s English-speaking development.
1. Read it all!
A great way to get kids into the habit of reading is to get them to read almost everything! Whether it’s shopping lists, billboards, recipe ingredients etc., you’ll eventually see them start to read stuff on their own. It’s a great way for them to learn new words and interact with their environment.
A tip from Jolene Wong, mother of two: “Everyday, try and get them to spot a new word they haven’t seen before. It is fun and helps them interact with their environment and learn at the same time.”
2. Eat, sleep, WRITE, repeat
As many people will tell you, writing something down helps commit it to memory. Making writing part of a child’s daily routine will help them to remember new words as well as improve their pronunciation through spelling.
A tip from Anne Cosgrove, mother of three: “At the end of each day, ask your child to write down any new words they may have heard or discovered. It will reinforce the memory of the words and help them to better remember it.”
3. A small text, a big difference
When you send a text to your child, don’t take short cuts. Using full words when you text will encourage your kids not to take short cuts.
A tip from Halini Kaur, mother of one: “Have a written conversation with your child once in a while. it obliges them to sound out the words as they are typing and changes the medium of learning to keep things interesting.
4. No baby talk
Children imitate, it’s a fact. They mimic voices, characters and certainly the way in which words are said. To dumb things down to an infant level will not help their development and may in fact counteract what they have already learnt. Children need to hear words spoken in a proper manner to fully understand its use.
A tip from Marianka McStay, mother of two: “Speak to your child in a normal adult voice. It doesn’t mean you won’t show affection, it means you’ll show them respect. They will learn better and love you for it more”.
5. Don’t mix it up
Though we should be proud of our diverse heritage and our ability to retort in more than one language, a golden rule of speaking is to stick to one tongue at a time. By switching between lingos, children won’t fully grasp each language on its own, causing knowledge of each dialogue to be incomplete.
A tip from Stephanie Khoo, mother of one: “Pick a language a day that you want to speak in – that way, your child can fully commit to responding in that tongue and avoid confusion”.
6. T.V. can be good!
Yes, TV can be beneficial to a child’s language skills. English-speaking shows help educate them on pronunciation and may even expose them to some words you haven’t heard of. Children today respond to TV, so why not turn a negative into a positive? Occasional doses of certain shows can help a child to develop better pronunciation.
A tip from Terrance Loh: “Watch more English-speaking movies and children’s shows – you’ll be surprised how quickly your children will start to copy the way certain words are pronounced. It may even influence your own speech!”