It’s hard to imagine living in today’s world without being able to communicate in English, isn’t it? And a lot of parents wonder how they can support their child in learning English so that their little ones have a head start in life. Although learning a new language can seem like a daunting task, below you’ll find some fun, low-stress ways of encouraging your child to learn English.
1. Show your child that YOU are interested in English
As corny as it may sound, children learn at first from their parents. And they love pretending to be adults while playing! If they see you being engrossed in an English book, they can get interested as well. If they hear you humming English lyrics, they might ask what you’re singing. And if they see you watching an English film, they might want to understand it as well.
Simply put, if your child sees you really enjoying English, there’s a chance they’ll get the learning bug as well! Of course seeing you interested won’t teach them English but this might be a first step to ease them into learning it.
2. Set technology to English
Since kids are on friendly terms with technology anyway, we can effectively use it to teach them English. One of the easiest things to do is to set all electronic devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) to English. This way our child will be getting familiar with the language completely seamlessly. Also, we can download English apps/ games and use them together with our child. At first we’ll need to support them and perhaps translate some words but later the child will surely manage on their own.
3. Read, read, read
Reading aloud to children is a fantastic way of stimulating their imagination. And it can also be another way of easing them into the world of English. Many books for children are beautifully illustrated and visuals help children understand the story even if they don’t know all the words. If reading stories in English is still too challenging for your child, you can start with pointing at the pictures and naming things, actions, colours, etc. in English. You can then ask the child to repeat the words and next time you read the book you can ask, for example: ‚Where’s the piggy in the picture?’, ‚Show me the pink hat’, etc. There are also bilingual (Polish and English) storybooks available so you can read the same story in Polish and then in English – this way your child will already know what it is about and they’ll find it easier to understand the text in English.
4. Sing together
I bet you know the feeling when you keep humming a song all day long and just can’t get it out of your head. Oh yes, songs and lyrics have this uncanny ability. And now imagine that your child keeps humming an English song that both of you listened. That’s a great opportunity to learn new words as well as pronunciation! Catchy tunes and repetitive lyrics facilitate remembering and nursery rhymes are just perfect for younger children. You can find a lot of them online.
5. Let your child be silent (but talk to them in English)
Now, how much sense does that make?! We want our child to speak English! True. But research has proved that the ‚silent period’ in language learning is essential. If your child doesn’t respond in English, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand. They might be ‚absorbing’ and organising the knowledge in their brain. We all talk to babies although we don’t expect them to answer. But at some point they start talking. Why? Because they’ve been ‚accumulating’ vocabulary.
So you can speak simple English to your child in various situations that don’t put them under pressure of responding. Give simple commands in English: ‚Can you give me your teddy-bear?’, ask basic questions: ‚Do you like ice-cream?’, offer praise: ‚Good job!’, make comments: ‚Mmm, this cake is yummy!’, etc.
Do you know any other ways of helping your child learn English? We’d love to hear them!
 Daunting – intimidating, overwhelming, appearing to be too much to handle.
 Seamlessly – to appear NOT in an obvious way
 Humming – making the music of a melody without saying the words.