9 steps to teach children English


When children are exposed to a foreign language they can adopt it in a natural way. They learn it at the same time they learn the mother tongue so that they don’t care. They even repeate and imitate a single rhyme over and over. They can make use of such “little” to get improved. They absorb more vocabulary and expressions if you let them. Do you know how to make the opportunity to come their way?

Tips how children learn a foreign language

1. Listen and sing English songs
Children have extraordinary memory. They can feel a melody and sound and they remember it when they like it. It is not important whether it is in their mother language or a foreign one. This “sense” of language (accent, melody, intonation) is a great advantage for such young beginners. Vocabulary enlarges but the feeling of how the language works correctly can be adopted right in very beginnings. That is why to play and sing English songs as much as possible – at home during playing a game or in your car during your journey to the countryside. Use rhymes or tongue-twisters aswell.

2. Every-day contact with language
Create an English corner at home where a “stranger” (soft toy) sits and can communicate only in English. He is sad if anyone doesn’t speak to him for a long time. Help your children and speak with this creature together. In the very beginnings no long sentences are necessary. A few words is enough or sing an English song with him. Sometimes the stranger can listen a fairy-tale in your language and interrupt with English words. Children repeat the English word to calm down the stranger and carry on listening.

3. Practice language during ordinary activities
Children need to stay in touch with the language. Learn through ordinary activities that are close and natural to children. Practice new words during games or every-day activities. Use questions – “What is it?” or “What colour is it?” Children learn these questions soon and answer them with no difficulties.

4. Give children orders in English
You can also use English when building a toy or something. Give your children instructions in English. E. g.: “Take a red crayon.” Accompany the order with a move. Children learn often repeated orders soon.

5. Do not be afraid of difficult phrases
Use difficult songs, stories or films. It doesn’t matter when children don’t understant something. They ignore such words or phrases. The important thing is that they are in touch with the language – same as they are with the mother tongue.

6. Practice new language at least a while every day
It is necessary to use what your child knows. Pretend you don’t understand, let children explain it, let you be taught, render the active role to children, let them use what they have learned in a real situation.

7. Surround yourself with pictures
Use pictures. Hang them on a board and let children say what they see when walking around. Children like to draw the pictures themselves or search them in magazines or online.

8. Play English games
Playing games is a greate means to learn a language. Play pairs, cut pictures out, search for hidden images, cut a picture into pieces and put it back together like a puzzle. Change the materials often. Children like to be surprised. Praise children when they find something and tell you something about it.

9. Use colour books
It is important to practice words after the lesson ends. Remind words learned during colouring images, name colours learned, numbers or objects.

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Gabriela Kašparová
Lector and language consultant. Studied English at the Faculty of Education. Having worked as an English tutor at nursery school, she got experience with working with children with learning disability. During her 8-year experience with teaching adults she has implemented her findings from learning children and has created simple and transparent explanations of complicated grammar features. Teaching both children and adults, she keeps encouraging them not to fear a foreign language and to learn with pleasure.



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