TEACHING YOUR CHILD ENGLISH - PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT


In today’s interconnected world, English language rules. Learning it has become a must for every kid. The new-born kid easily picks it up in an English-speaking environment. 

What about the non-English environments? The child brought up in a non-English environment generally struggles to learn even the workable format of the English language later in life while at a school or college, forget about mastering it perfectly.


How to ensure that a child placed in non-English environment learn the English language with ease and fluency? The best way is to start teaching it to the kid the moment child begins responding to the external environment immediately after birth.

Initially, the child keeps crying followed later on by uttering mostly illegible mono syllables. Then, it starts speaking words like MUM, MOM, BUA which may vary. At this stage, you continuously read the 26 alphabets of English aloud to the child, on a daily basis. The child’s impressionable mind absorbs these linguistic inputs from you and develops a basic programming for further easier learning of the complex structures of English language like words and sentences.

Keep observing your kid keenly. When the child starts repeating the alphabets read out by you then you move on to simple words. These words could be like: Come, Go, Up, Down, Climb, Eat, In, Out, Sit, etc.

How this word learning exercise works? Well, speak the words ‘COME’ and ‘GO’ along with showing the associated actions to the child when the child starts walking on feet. In the child’s presence, enact the actions with the help of some family member. On your saying the word ‘COME,’ the family member must come inside the room and on your saying ‘GO’, the family member must move out of the room. Repeat it many times.

After a while face the child and say ‘COME.’ You will be amazed to note that the child has come inside the room! This should be encouraging for you. Then, speak the word ‘GO’ to the child. The child shall respond by going out of the room.

Say the word ‘UP’ followed by your hand touching the top of the table. Utter ‘DOWN’ and touch the floor. Keep a glass of water on the table, saying ‘UP’ and keep it down on the floor by saying ‘DOWN.’ Ask a family member to keep up the glass by saying ‘UP’ and to keep it down by saying ‘DOWN.’ Repeat this exercise many times in front of the child. Then, ask the child to keep the glass up by pointing to the glass and saying ‘UP.’ The child shall keep it up! Same you can do as regards the word ‘DOWN.’

When the child has understood several simple single words then you move on to the combination of two words like ‘CLIMB UP’, ‘CLIMB DOWN.’ Speak these words or phrases followed by the associated actions demonstrated by some family members in front of the child.

Show a glass to the child and say ‘GLASS.’ Repeat it many times. The child shall come to associate the word ‘GLASS’ with the object identified as a ‘GLASS.’ This exercise can be done for all household objects and other external things like flowers, buds, leaves, etc, also.

If it’s not possible to take help of someone else, you can do it all by your own self. Speak ‘CLIMB UP’ and then climb up the bed. Speak ‘CLIMB DOWN’ and then climb down the bed. After having done it several times, look to the child and say, “CLIMB UP.” You will pleasantly be surprised that the child has responded to your verbal command and climbed up the bed! Then, give the verbal command, “CLIMB DOWN.” The child shall climb down.

The two word-combination exercise can be followed by still more complicated combinations like small sentences such as ‘IT IS CAT,’ ‘THAT IS RAT,’ etc.

Then, you move on to reading out stories from children’s story books in English to your child. While doing so, go on making each concept, associated with the words used in the story, fully clear to your child. The child must be able to relate the word with something that the child can easily visualize.

The whole point is that you interact verbally with the child by demonstrating the action associated with the particular word, phrase and sentence. You have to gradually move on from simpler format to the complex one.

The children are quick observers and responders. After some time, you will find that your child has started even speaking the same English words, phrases and sentences as spoken by you with the same accent as yours.

The speed with which the child follows the demonstrator and learns the English language varies from child to child. Some children are quicker while a few others are slow. No need to worry. The child shall ultimately be able to learn it as if one’s own mother-tongue.

The basic English-teaching regime discussed above can be followed by the use of other teaching tools like letting the child watch cartoon films on visual media like TV, laptop, etc.

If possible, ensure that your child interacts only with the English speaking people till the time child is able to speak English as easily as a duck takes to water. Once the child has begun speaking English language as mother-tongue, you can expose the child to non-English speaking members of your family.

The exposure to non-English speaking members shall lead child to learn non-English words, but it shall not interfere in child’s English language skills. The child’s mind shall not forget the fluent easy use of English language basically programmed as it has become to learn and speak English.

It may be useful to point out here that the English-teaching strategy discussed here can be applied in case of any language. Also, this strategy shall help the child learn English language much quicker even in an English environment.

In my last article ‘Teaching Your Child English – Personal Involvement Necessary?’, published on the 10th of December, 2010 on the www.trcb.com, I had delved into the question as to whether parental involvement is necessary in teaching English to the child and I had promised that “How the parents can become involved personally with the child's linguistic journey shall be the subject of the next article.” I have fulfilled my long-pending promise by having written the present article.
~ J G M J V S A J

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