Although most students choose to learn English as a second language in school, not all of their parents are able to fully support them in this.
This is due to the simple fact that some parents don’t speak English.
In order to keep an eye on their children’s education, parents enjoy helping them with test preparation and revision. However, this can be difficult if you’re not able to correct your child’s mistakes without improving your English.
Whether they never had the opportunity to learn English or they have forgotten all they knew of the language, it is important that parents feel able to provide their children with an adequate level of support.
Children usually start in their English education at the age of around 4 years old, first learning the numbers, colours, animals, and the days of the week.
Young children like to show off their progress in English, so even if parents only understand some of what they are saying, it is important that they feel encouraged to persevere.
If the child feels that their parents are not interested in their learning, they themselves can lose their passion for English.
This is why it can be incredibly beneficial for parents and children to learn English together!
This can be achieved through private tuition.
All it takes is a bit of willpower for parents to be able to keep up with their children’s progress in English. Even though adults are not present in their child’s school English lessons, they can assist with homework and vocabulary learning, for example.
This is just one way parents can transform their weakness in English into a strength and reap the benefits of learning a new language at the same pace as their child.
Take on the ESOL challenge as a team ¦ source: Pixabay – Olichel
Not speaking English does not always hinder career prospects, however, learning the language to an adequate level can help parents overcome comprehension difficulties when working with IT, for example.
At the start of their formal English education, school students are bombarded with vocabulary and conjugation lists as well as the famous lists of irregular verbs to be learnt by heart.
Of course, you don’t need to be 100% fluent in English to understand simple functions such as ‘copy/paste’ on a computer, for example.
When their parents don’t speak English, children tend to put their energy into learning through writing.
Although writing notes can be an effective revision method, it does not work for everyone and can miss key aspects of language learning such as oral fluency and listening skills.
For quieter children, there is the risk that they are too shy to speak up in their lessons at school and, as a result, they don’t receive the full benefit of the teaching.
If these children’s parents do not speak English, it becomes even more difficult for children to practice as they are unable to engage in English conversation with their parents.
This is where the vicious circle begins. The child struggles to grasp English pronunciation because of a lack of practice and, as a result, they begin to fall behind their classmates.
To help them settle into speaking English, the child should develop a relaxed and natural attitude when it comes to their accent, and they should not hesitate to experiment with pronunciation and intonation – something that cannot be done with pen and paper.
Letting the child become the teacher who teaches their parent can be an incredibly effective method. Instead of reciting vocabulary and verb conjugations, the child can consolidate their knowledge by explaining grammatical rules to their parents in their best English accent!
Explaining things to a beginner requires clarity in one’s own comprehension as well as adopting effective teaching methods to make sure the learner understands.
If the child struggles to explain what they have learnt, this is a sign that they have not fully understood what they have been taught. Role-switching is therefore a good method for parents to keep an eye on their child’s progress in English.
Just like every other modern language, English is full of its own idiomatic expressions.
Special usages of words mean that if you try to translate a certain phrase word-for-word, you lose the meaning in the target language.
“It’s raining cats and dogs!” – an English idiom meaning that it’s raining heavily ¦ source: Pixabay – OpenClipart-Vectors
In every language, there are phrases that are identical in meaning but which do not resemble one another in translation.
For example, in French, “tu rigoles” translates as “you must be joking”, even though the word-for-word translation would be “you laugh”.
There are clearly many visual differences between these two sentences such as the number of words and the addition of ‘must’ which represents obligation – which is not there in French.
Adults tend to approach language learning too logically, and often seek to rely too heavily on the translation of every word, rather than take in the meaning.
English teachers, however, encourage children to think in English, so that they will eventually be able to express themselves in their second language more spontaneously.
There are lots of fun aspects of the English language such as tongue-twisters, slang, jokes and puns. These are all things that can help keep children engaged while they are studying English as a foreign language.
English music is everywhere. Chances are, if you ask your child about their favourite song, its lyrics are in English.
Without asking children to translate these song lyrics literally, parents can ask them to explain what they really mean.
The child will probably have understood the key words and phrases and will be able to use them in their everyday English, where relevant.
Bizarrely, this may also influence their pronunciation – so children may start to develop a British or American accent based on the music they enjoy!
Just like parents’ evenings in school, meetings between parents and their child’s tutor can be helpful as they give parents an opportunity to discuss their child’s progress and ask for advice on how best to support them.
Revising English lessons with their children is not always a parent’s first thought, as fears of not be able to use the right pronunciation and even teaching their child an incorrect fact make it seem almost impossible.
The English language is quite technical. For example, the word “the” can be difficult to pronounce for ESOL learners, as the “th” sound require them to use the mechanics of their mouth in an unfamiliar way.
In class, children work with textbooks and audio recordings to help them improve their accent and intonation. The majority of teachers spread their hour of teaching over reading and writing skills practice, grammar exercises, and listening tests to help their pupils get used to how English works as a language.
Teachers and tutors are therefore in the prime position to recommend CDs, DVDs and downloadable MP3 resources to help learners develop their own speaking and listening skills.
English is flourishing as an international language. This is why it is crucial that learners work on their English as regularly as they can, so they spend their time learning new things rather revising information they have forgotten. Learn how long it will take to learn English here.
If a child is finding English writing difficult, and parents notice that their grades are below average, they can give their young learner an extra boost by buying English workbooks at their level. This way, children can work through topics point by point until the fully grasp concepts.
These kinds of workbooks and exercises for children are affordable and come with answers to exercises – so there is no problem from parents who don’t speak English!
Just like with their school homework, children can show their work to their tutors and ask about any mistakes they don’t understand.
Completing tricky grammar exercises and quizzes on the use of nouns, spelling, adjectives, tenses, and new words can help learners with their English skills as a whole as well as helping them prepare for English exams in the future.
There is plenty of English reading material aimed at young ESOL learners, such as Vocable (for French speakers) or apps like Speakingpal.
Magazines, newspapers and even games can give children a wonderful insight into anglophone culture and its traditions, as well as helping them use their knowledge of English to learn further.
There are also plenty of websites out there to help children learn English through having fun, and give them valuable language skills that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives.
The success of a child in learning English is the result of a collective effort from the learner themselves, their parents and their tutor. Make sure to choose the perfect English teacher.
Nobody is too old to learn a new language! ¦ source: Visualhunt – jisc_infonet
Being able to communicate orally confidently and fluently as well as writing in good English gives you a social advantage as well as helping you in the world of work.
In order to help their children in the best possible way, parents can sign up for evening courses or online tutoring – both affordable and effective ways of learning English.