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According to Ethnologue, English is the most spoken language in the world, with over 1.5 billion speakers. It is also the fastest-growing language. It’s no surprise, then, that English is the most widely used language over the Internet. The above-mentioned facts clearly suggest that mastery of spoken English is the need of the hour. It is the language of opportunities that will prepare your child to thrive in the world. However, many parents are overwhelmed at the prospect of teaching spoken English to their kids at home.
Noam Chomsky, a linguist and cognitive scientist, suggests that children are born with an innate ability to learn language. His theory is based on the process of “language acquisition”. The theory states that children have an innate ability to learn language, which is based on a universal grammar. This grammar includes the rules that all languages share as well as the specific rules of each language. Consequently, the first five years of a child’s life are crucial years of language development. It’s during these years that a child develops the blueprint of any language.
Language experts who agree with this theory also suggest that the early introduction of a language can really help your child develop language structures and patterns that stimulate the linguistic centres of your child’s brain. It enables your child to gain mastery over the new language. Thus, the parents or the primary caregiver have a key role to play in introducing a new language and shaping the linguistic abilities of a child.
It is at this stage that you can introduce English to your child, and here a few tips that will help facilitate language learning at home:
1. Give your child a head start: In simpler words, start early. Research shows that half of the child’s adult intelligence is formed during the first 4 years. This is the best time to nurture the spoken English skills of your child. Think of your child as a sponge, readily absorbing the new language taught. So, the sooner you start, the better it is. You can even enrol your child in an online spoken English class where your child can learn from the comfort of your home.
Bambinos.live is one of the best platforms that offers courses for kids starting from the age of 4 years onwards. Their Young Readers Program uses a playful and fun approach to help your child take his first language-learning steps. This level emphasises learning English with songs, images, and gamified lessons. Further, the program advances into the world of reading with story-based lessons, interactive teaching methods, and games to fortify the active listening and speaking skills of your child.
2. Create a language-rich environment. Expose your child to as many languages as possible. Start reading bedtime stories to your child at the age of six months. Create a language-rich environment at home. Include age-appropriate English books in your home library. Play appropriate songs and movies that will ensure that your child grows with enough exposure to the language.
3. Tread with caution: Most parents struggle to find age-appropriate material for their kids and expose them to books or videos that are either above their learning level or contain inappropriate content. Both of these can prove detrimental to your child’s learning needs. Consequently, you will notice that your child will either lose interest in the language or develop a negative attitude toward it. If you are one of those perplexed yet concerned parents, you can continue reading the article and discover some age-appropriate material for your child in the Recommendation section.
4. Free Speech: Give Your child the freedom of expression. Encourage your child to express his/her feelings in English. Don’t interrupt them when they are expressing. Refrain from rectifying every grammatical error. It is this freedom to express their feelings and thoughts that will give them the confidence to interact in English at school and with friends. May it be joy or anger, love or hate, let your child express both positive and negative emotions in English. This will help remarkably improve their spoken English skills.
5. Gamify English: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The age-old saying is absolutely true, especially when learning a new language. You can play games such as Scrabble, Charades, Taboo, and so on. The internet offers myriads of games that you can play with your child to enrich the repertoire of his vocabulary.
6. Keep it simple: Simplicity is often the most underrated tool for learning language. A plethora of perplexed parents want to introduce difficult vocabulary and expressions into their child’s spoken English. They tend to forget that English is not their native language. Hence, they need to start with simple words, phrases and sentences. Once the child can comprehend the basics, you can easily take him to the next level.
You can start your child’s spoken English journey by using English in simple questions such as:
7. Motivate to participate: Every child needs a champion. Every child deserves a cheerleader. Always motivate your child to participate in extracurricular activities and competitions. Don’t let your fears cripple your children’s spirit of participation. Encourage them to participate in public speaking events such as show-and-tell, jams, recitation, elocution, etc. Your encouragement at each step to participate without the fear of outcome will eventually help your child gain confidence to speak in public and explore new avenues. Thus, polishing their spoken English skills and opening a world of possibilities for them.
8. Foster originality: Children are constantly exposed to a sea of information in today’s world of technology and media exposure. This avalanche of information often leads to the development of stock ideas. Most children lose originality and freshness. Consequently, their expressions become repetitive and stale. Creativity and originality of language are invaluable traits that can’t be learned in a few spoken English classes. It requires regular exposure and practice. Ensure that you provide your child the right exposure and enough practice so that he or she can blossom into a creative and confident communicator.
9. Instil curiosity: If your child spends the whole day with textbooks and is preoccupied with assignments, striving to get the top grade, when would he get time to think, observe, and analyse? Give your child space and time to generate ideas. Encourage him to challenge the norms and ask you questions about things that intrigue him.
10. Have Fun: Make learning fun for your child. Include language games as a part of your daily ritual. Take a break from your busy schedule, and enjoy a movie night with your child. There are innumerable animated movies that are both entertaining and educational. Organise a karaoke night and groove to the beats of classic English songs. Remember, the more they enjoy, the more they will learn.