The English language is one of the crucial requirements for functioning in the modern world. Beyond being just an essential job requirement, it is also valuable for finding your way in any country around the world, accessing brilliant research papers at university, or even just understanding the settings on your smartphone.
Children learn languages more easily than adults and so introducing English at a younger age is a great way to avoid the stress it could cause later. Moreover, children are curious little beings and it is not difficult to engage them in an educational activity as long as you keep it fun.
Here are our top four tips for fun and easy ways to learn English.
1. Watch Cartoons
During my time at University, I met quite a few people who perfectly spoke a foreign language. I was always envious of them, because they, in their own words, didn’t remember ever really studying it as a subject – they were just heavily exposed to it. Of course, sometimes the exposure was due to living abroad, but most of the time they said it came simply from watching cartoons, and at the age of 20 they were almost at the level of a native speaker. Restricting children’s exposure to television (or Netflix nowadays) to programs in a single non-native language can be a brilliant way to acquire foreign language skills. English is the easiest one to access, as many cartoons and animated movies are originally released in it. From old Disney movies and modern Pixar to Cartoon Network and beyond, the options are inexhaustible and you can have full authority over what your child is watching. Finally, this is also one of the rare activities that gives parents a break as children remain glued to the TV for at least a couple of hours.
2. Listen to Music and Audiobooks
The English language does not have very complicated grammar, so the main struggle for most students is the vast vocabulary. This is why I encourage learning that focuses on getting to know more words. Aside from watching movies, at the very beginning this can be done through music, from songs like The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, aimed at children, to modern music aimed at older students. Songs are repetitive and encourage memorisation. After students improve their English to a level where they can understand the language relatively well, audiobooks can come in handy. Audiobooks use a much broader vocabulary, and are generally more useful to an intermediate student (it is amazing how fast children can learn a language!). Both music and audiobooks can be listened to during commuting, or as a relaxing activity in the evening. For parents, if they speak the language, I would very much encourage them to read to their young children in English, for this is an even better activity which you are all sure to remember with fondness.
3. Get the Right Tutor
Regardless of grammar not being as complicated as in some other languages, it is still an important part of English. Grammar is always taught in school courses, but sometimes that does not seem to be enough. More often than the problem being the difficulty of grammatical concepts, the reason for child’s slow progress can be found in inappropriate teaching. Every child is different and teachers often try their best to address all of the needs of the class, but sometimes that is not enough. Hiring a private tutor who specializes in methods that accommodate your child’s learning is sure to give amazing results. Tutors can, moreover, be more open-minded with learning activities, instead of being bound to the ones generally used in schools. With a private English tutor, you do not make any long-term commitments, so if your child’s English does not improve with time or they tell you they are bored in class, you can always change tutors. It is definitely worth a try!
4. Play Games
Very often, teachers give a list of words that students have to learn by heart and know how to spell. These lists are usually unit-specific. Playing memory games is a great way to learn the vocabulary required for class. These can easily be found online, but for even more fun, children can make their own memory game by simply using paper and pen. Pairs can either be two identical words, or can consist of a word in their native language and the English translation. For practicing spelling, on the other hand, tick-tack-toe games can be used effectively. Instead of using Xs and Os, children can play with words they need to learn how to spell. This way, they will write a certain word over and over again, without noticing or getting bored. And every round, a new word can be used! These are just some ideas, but a quick search on the internet will give you many more amazing games to discover!