We know, based on loads of research done around the world, that children whose parents are involved in their education (such as with homework and projects) perform better and tend to be more successful in a number of ways. While extra learning at training centers and extracurricular classes are invaluable, they can’t replace parent involvement. Plus, these extra classes aren’t always available.
The best way to improve language skills is to use the language with your child during daily life: at home, while shopping, when going out to eat, etc. Unfortunately, most parents don’t speak the foreign languages that their children are learning or aren’t as advanced as the child is. Parents who can speak it are often afraid of teaching their children mistakes or “bad habits.” That reluctance to speak gets passed on to the children. To make matters worse, parents and kids are already overworked. More language practice just sounds stressful.
However, rest assured that most of these concerns are unfounded or easy to work around. In fact, this learning process can reduce anxiety, not add to it. There are several easy ways to reinforce your child’s learning that will bring you closer together and even enhance familial harmony while increasing test scores.
So how do you engage in English learning at home in an enjoyable way?
Make It an Easy Game – Part I
We all know that games are fun and that humans learn a great deal through games. Yes, there are apps and online activities. But the games I’m talking about are interactive experiences between parents and children. You use the language targets that the child is learning as the basis/content for a fun, easy game.
Where do I get these games?
Find game ideas online by searching terms such as: English learning games at home; ESL games for kids; ESL games for teenagers; etc. You can even search by topics by adding “food, sports, geography,” etc. (HINT: Search on Bing.com in English to get more results.)
可以通过引擎搜索: 在家学习英语游戏; 儿童ESL游戏; 青少年ESL游戏等。你甚至可以通过添加“食物、运动、地理”等主题来搜索 (提示: 在Bing.com上用英文搜索可以得到更多结果)。
Ask the child to teach you a game they’ve used in their foreign language class.
Ask the child to create or adapt a game.
Adapt or make up your own game.
You can sometimes download materials for games online, but I highly recommend having the child (and parent) create materials such as flashcards, maps, puzzles, and game boards. This ensures that targets the child will be tested on are included, and people are more likely to acquire learning targets when they make the materials themselves.
I don’t know… That sounds like a lot of work.
No problem! Here are a few of my favorites that require almost no preparation and can be played in a variety of settings:
Vocabulary: Some reliable standbys are “I Spy,” “Twenty Questions,” and what I call “Is this?”. All of these can be done with no materials whatsoever and can even be played during your commutes by car, bike, or public transit. Flashcard memory games are also easy to find or make at home.
词汇方面：可靠的备选词有 “我发现”、“二十个问题” 和 “这是什么?” 所有这些都可以在没有任何材料的情况下完成，甚至可以在你乘车、骑自行车或乘坐公共交通工具上下班的时候互动。同时记忆卡的游戏也很容易在家里找到或制作。
Grammar: You can use basic dialog templates from the student’s homework and replace content words. For example, if they’re learning question words and locations, take turns asking and answering questions about your immediate surroundings: “Who is in the kitchen?” – “Grandma is in the kitchen.”; “What is on the table?” – “My book is on the table.”
语法方面: 您可以使用学生作业中的基本对话框模板，并替换内容词。例如，如果他们正在学习疑问词和地点，那么可以轮流询问和回答跟您周围环境相关的问题， 例如 :“谁在厨房里?”-“奶奶在厨房里。”“桌子上有什么?”-“我的书在桌子上。”
Functional language: This means language such as greetings, farewells, and other language chunks we use in daily life. Remember that games don’t have to keep score. They can just be roleplaying for fun.
Spelling: Hangman is very fun because it incorporates drawing and can be adapted easily. For instance, if the child is having a very hard time, you can always give them more chances by adding clothing and accessories
Higher levels: For higher-level learners, “Never have I ever” is a great game that requires almost no materials. You just need some way to help keep score.
Card games: Any card game that involves speaking works great. I’m a big fan of “Go Fish” as it employs vocabulary, grammar, social skills, and memory. (Personalize, diversify, and enhance the game by having children make their own deck of cards with at least two of whatever they want. Themed Go Fish card games are also available online.)
纸牌游戏: 任何涉及到开口说话的纸牌游戏都很棒。我是Go Fish的忠实粉丝，因为它糅合了词汇、语法、社交技巧和记忆力。(通过让孩子们使用至少两张他们想要的牌，来制作他们自己的个性化、多样化和增强游戏趣味性一副牌。主题“Go Fish”纸牌游戏也可以在网上找到。)
Ok, but how do I use games at home in a fun, effective way?
Games should be a fun way to exercise what students have already been exposed to.
Games do not need to be complicated, long, or difficult.
Games don’t have to have a loser. You don’t even have to keep score.
If you do keep score, rewards for winning can be as simple as bragging rights or a heart-felt “Good job!” Stickers or stamps added to a board or chart are surprisingly motivating (even for adults!)
– Games should not involve punishments.
– Games are not tests. Focus on things they already know.
– Whenever possible, use errorless learning (see below), but…
– Mistakes are ok.
– Allow the child to use a dictionary or translator.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this language-learning strategy where we explore the reasons for these guidelines.