Last week, Linda explained why using English at home is an important step in progressing your child’s language learning. If you missed the article, or you’d like to read it in a bilingual version please click here.
Linda also introduced the concept of making it an easy game. Read one to find more tips on using English at home.
Make It an Easy Game – Part II
让它成为一个简单的游戏 – 第二部分
Language games are a great way to keep learners engaged outside of the classroom. But there are lots of questions about the best ways to use games.
How do I use language games at home in a fun, effective way?
Here are a few basic guidelines about using and creating learning games at home.
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.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for these guidelines and some frequently asked questions.
Errorless learning is a teaching strategy used in classrooms, cognitive and speech therapy, and training in many fields.
Errorless learning is a way of teaching that prevents a learner from making mistakes as he or she is learning a new skill. It is highly effective for people who are prone to making mistakes. It reduces the frustration and disappointment that often accompanies making errors during “trial and error” methods of teaching. While errors are normal and can provide information to teachers regarding gaps in knowledge and skills, evidence shows that the reduced stress of errorless learning can result in faster acquisition.
Is that really challenging enough?
Yes. One amazing thing that researchers have learned about language acquisition is that once a language target has been acquired, the brain naturally opens itself to learn more. So, the more fluent your learner is with a target, the more readily they pick up new ones. By practicing the easy stuff at home, you’re helping them get ready to learn new stuff at school.
Remember, this is not a test! By giving the learners the answers, you’re keeping it fun AND they are getting good reinforcement.
That sounds boring! 那听起来无聊!
During the game process, parents (or children) can increase the difficulty level to keep things interesting. If you sense that your child is getting bored, expand the topic or step up the difficulty level just a bit. See what else they know. Just keep in mind the concept of errorless learning and you’ll still have plenty of fun.
If they can use a dictionary or translator, isn’t that cheating?
Nope! Remember, this isn’t a test; it’s a game just for fun. In fact, by allowing them to look words up and check translators, you’re teaching them to be independent learners. They’ll encounter more language by having to explore. It also lets them practice using that technology.
Isn’t it lazy to use a translator/dictionary?
Not at all. Saying, “I don’t know,” and giving up is lazy. It takes extra work to check a device, to persevere until you have what you want. Most children will really try to think of the word or expression they want to use before looking it up. Once the child uses (speaks) what they looked up, they’ve started to learn it.
But mistakes are inevitable.
There will be mistakes, and that’s fine. Approach any mistakes you notice as if you’re a team solving a puzzle together. It’s an opportunity to explore. Start by saying, “Is that right? I’m not sure. Let’s check.” Again, this isn’t a test. So, referring to books, etc. is perfectly fine. In fact, the process of learning to make a mistake and still keep trying builds character and instills confidence.
在这个过程中肯定会犯有错误，但是没关系。处理任何你注意到的错误，就好像你们是一个团队一起来解决难题。这是一个探索的机会。从“这是对的吗?” ，“ 我不确定”, “让我们检查一下”。再强调一下，这不是测试。所以，参考书籍等是完全可以的。事实上，学会犯错并不断尝试的过程会塑造你的性格，增加孩子的自信心。
Won’t that build bad habits?
If saying it correctly a few times didn’t stick, neither will saying it incorrectly a few times. As long as they encounter the correct way (from school, TV, movies, apps, dictionaries, etc.) they (and you!) will eventually learn the correct way to use/say a target. Just be a good example as much as possible.
Start a list of things to ask their teacher/tutor. When you realize that you aren’t sure about something, add it to the list, then continue with the game.
But what if I don’t know the language as well as my child?
It might be hard to play a game if you don’t know as much as the other player (in this case, the child). That’s where part three of our series comes in.
Stay tuned for more ways to interact with your child in English, even if you don’t speak it!