IST

English Learning Tips




TEN WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN ENGLISH

1. MAINTAIN YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE

Fluency in a first language will help your child learn a second language. Encourage your child to attend a Saturday language school in his or her first language. Study academic subjects at home in your first language.

2. BE BILINGUAL ROLE MODELS

Let your child see you speaking in English to others, reading English books, and watching movies in English. By doing this, you show your child that you value the second language. Don’t worry if you are not fluent in English. This will show your child that it’s okay to make mistakes.

3. SUPPLY BILINGUAL MATERIALS

Make sure you have books and magazines in both English and your first language. Let your child see you using bilingual materials and encourage your child to do the same.

4. HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN TO BE BILINGUAL

Give your child clues how they can develop their language skills. For example, using synonyms – words which are close in meaning to the one you want; use of a bilingual dictionary; use of context clues to help figure out new vocabulary; that its natural to feel frustrated and nervous.

5. GIVE WAIT TIME

Be patient! It takes an average of 5 to 7 years to become bilingual. Your own patience will be a model for your child also to be patient.

6. APPLAUD EVERY EFFORT ONTO VICTORY

Praise your child’s every effort just as you did with their very first words in your first language.

7. CREATE LANGUAGE PLAYTIME

The maximum time anyone can effectively learn in a second language is 6 hours. When your child has finished their homework, don’t make them do more with a tutor. Use the money to go to Disneyland or a horse-riding camp! Encourage your child to join in extra-curricular activities.

8. DO NOT GIVE MIXED MESSAGES

Be careful of the messages you give your child. For example, you tell your child it is important to learn English, but he never sees you using or trying to learn English. You tell your child to practice English but you don’t help him to meet friends after school or to join in extra-curricular activities.

9. DO NOT CREATE ANXIETY

Give your child time to learn English. Value what your child does know and do not become stressed about what they don’t know. Anxiety may result in poor self-confidence and an unwillingness to take risks.

10. PLAN BILINGUALISM

Plan how you are going to work towards your language goals. Both parents need to agree on what your language goals are. Be aware of how long it takes to learn a second language.

Ideas taken from Dr. Virginia Rojas, February 2001 (Original IST document prepared by IST Student Services)

You are always welcome to contact any of the ELL Department teachers with any questions, comments or suggestions.

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