The best way to help your child learn a foreign language is to bring that language into the home and into your lives as a family. Many parents and children feel like they can’t possibly squeeze in any more school time. No problem! You’d be surprised at how much English you can practice if you just use it here and there as you go about your daily life. Any moment can be an opportunity to learn and practice English.
Out & About (and at Home) with English
Learning can happen ANYWHERE, and there are a multitude of reasons to use English in every setting possible. Let’s take a look at just a few examples of places you can use English with your child in your daily life:
Shopping can be a real drag for kids and parents. Why not make it more fun by using as much English as you can? Use easy phrases like, “I need a(n)some __” and requests like, “Would you bring me a(s)some __?” Grocery shopping is faster and more fun when you have a helper who is excited to help you collect items. Shopping is great for practicing numbers, foods, household items, questions, and counting grammar (how much/many, etc.).
● Commuting and Waiting in Lines:
Your time on the metro, in the car, or on your bike is perfect for using English. Talk about your transportation, such as the parts of the car, bike, or metro. Talk about what you see. Talk about where you are. Talk about where you’re going next. Are we going left or right? Stop! Go! Fast! Slow! the possibilities are endless!
For more advanced learners, in the afternoons and evenings, ask them what they learned at school. Play a game like “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” or “What’s that?” (See parts 1 and 2 of this series).
● At the Bank:
Banks are great places to talk about money and numbers, of course. They’re also great for talking about jobs, objects, furniture, and more.
● At Home:
o Cooking and mealtimes: Talk about what you’re eating. What does it taste like? Is it hot or cold? Do you like it? “I’d like some more, please. Do we have any…? Please pass the…. It needs more salt. I’m full! I’m still hungry.”
o Morning routines:What better way to start the day than with a little foreign language?
“Good morning! Time to wake up. Do I have to? Yes, of course. What should I wear? How about this? What’s for breakfast? Did you brush your teeth? Don’t forget your bookbag. What time is it? Let’s go! Have a great day! I’ll carry that, Mom. Bye Grandma! See you later!”
o Evening routines: What better way to end your day than with the feeling of accomplishment you get from speaking a foreign language?
“It’s time for bed. Is your homework done? Let me help you pack your backpack. I brushed my teeth and took a shower. How about you? Let me see. Oh, very clean! I’m sleepy. Are you tired? I’m not sleepy. Can I stay up? You’ll be tired in the morning. I’ll come tuck you in. Can you read me a story? Mommy, sing me a song. I love you. Sweet dreams!
Why should I use English everywhere?
In most language classrooms in schools, children don’t get to move around much while they use language. They rarely get to see, touch, or do the things they’re talking about. Most people don’t learn that well just from reading. And that’s why traditional language classrooms don’t work.
To learn a language, you have to build a connection between sounds and meaning; between patterns and meaning. To build meaning, we need more than just theoretical experience. When you’re fluent in a language, your brain doesn’t translate from one language to another – it just makes the connection to the same information in more than one way. To build those connections, you need context and sensation: colors, shapes, temperatures, movements, sounds. The variety of environments for the language ensures that they can use it wherever they go. It builds deeper connections which enhances true fluency.
These different environments also help you think of what to talk about. Any object or picture around you has the potential to spark interaction in English. You’re also encouraging them to be curious about their surroundings and more comfortable speaking English in general. There’s really no downside to using a foreign language any time in your daily life.
Won’t my child feel like they’re still at school?
That depends on you. If you follow the guidelines from the first three segments of this series, it won’t be like school at all. Remember to keep things fun. This is not a test – it’s playing!
Once you start integrating English into your daily routine, you’ll be raising a bilingual speaker. It will feel normal and natural to speak English, so it won’t feel like school at all. Even school won’t feel as much like school, because English will be a normal part of life.
There are even more ways to interact with your child in English. Stay tuned for more fun ideas and answers to common questions.
Next time: Make Up Songs Together!
带孩子购物对孩子和家长来说都可能是一种折磨，但如果我们把它当成说英语的挑战，这不是就变得有趣了吗？我们可以用一些简单的表达，如“I need a(n)some __”，或者请求，如“Would you bring me a(s)some __?”当我们在超市采购日常用品时，如果有一个帮手积极地来帮我们跑腿，这一过程会变得更加轻松也更为有趣。此外，购物对于数字、食物、日用品单词，以及提问和数量的语法（如how much/many）都有很大的练习意义。
我们花在路上、地铁上、车里，甚至在自行车上的时间都能拿来练习英语。我们可以趁机练习和交通相关的词汇表达，如交通工具和各个部件。看到什么就说什么，在哪就练哪个，要去哪里就接着讲哪里。“Are we going left or right? Stop! Go! Fast! Slow! ”各种词汇和句子会给我们的练习带来无限的可能！
对于基础更好的孩子，也可以在放学路上问问他们在学校都学了什么。可以用第一部分我们讨论过的 “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” or “What’s that?” 作为练习方法。
做饭和吃饭时：可以说说食物。可以讨论一下食物的味道，冷热，喜不喜欢等。也可以练习一些饭桌用语，如“I’d like some more, please. Do we have any…? Please pass the…. It needs more salt. I’m full! I’m still hungry.”等。
早上：还有什么比用英文来进行早起时的问候更新奇有趣的呢？早上有太多机会让我们练习英语了：“Good morning! Time to wake up. Do I have to? Yes, of course. What should I wear? How about this? What’s for breakfast? Did you brush your teeth? Don’t forget your bookbag. What time is it? Let’s go! Have a great day! I’ll carry that, Mom. Bye Grandma! See you later!”
晚上：还有什么比用外语来总结一天的辛劳更让人有成就感呢？晚上同样有数不尽的练习英语的机会，而这些只是冰山一角：“It’s time for bed. Is your homework done? Let me help you pack your backpack. I brushed my teeth and took a shower. How about you? Let me see. Oh, very clean! I’m sleepy. Are you tired? I’m not sleepy. Can I stay up? You’ll be tired in the morning. I’ll come tuck you in. Can you read me a story? Mommy, sing me a song. I love you. Sweet dreams!”