How to Motivate Children to Want to Learn English
Rose Sarr,expert in preschool education?of Xiaohajin
More and more parents want their children to learn English from a young age. I often meet parents of children as young as two or three who say that proficiency in speaking English will help their children get ahead in a globalized world. In other words, the sooner their children get started, the better.
The single most important factor in a child’s success with English is their parents' interest and encouragement, no matter what their children’s age. So what can parents do to support their learning?
Keep yourself motivated
To build a positive attitude towards learning, and towards English as a second language, the best place to start is with yourself. If you send your child to an English class, why not join one too? Learning English together is a great way to spend time with your kids and create a positive attitude towards learning and speaking another language.
By learning English yourself, you can show your kids that?“having a go”?and making a mistake is better than only speaking when you have the perfect sentence prepared.
Play in English
Children will naturally learn everything around them without any adult intervention. They do this through playful experimentation and making many mistakes along the way. To help your children get ahead with English learning, get them to play in the language.
Talk in a crazy voice or be daft and make them wonder what you'll be up to next. ?Some parents frown upon the idea of playing the clown and having fun because they think it is time-wasting and that it is not their role to be an entertainer. However if you are a big kid at heart then you will find that joining in, playing with the children and generally acting up and being enthusiastic will come naturally to you and is all part of the fun of?“teaching”. If your children can laugh with you, they'll be interested in what you're doing up there.
Sing Songs Together
(Or get Youku to help if you can’t sing)
After a few listens to a song or nursery rhyme, children quickly start to hum, sing along to the chorus and eventually put together more and more words. Music and rhyme help children to use full sentences, intonation, pitch, and rhythm, as well as simply building confidence, in a way that we can’t achieve if we were trying to explicitly teach these language features.
We can also introduce children to quite difficult language structures through song. For example,?“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”. It includes a really complex grammatical structure that a young child would find too challenging to learn from being taught. The song, on the other hand, does everything for us with no pressure, and provides an easily recognizable context for children.
Variety is the Spice of Life
With that all said, it's also important to change things up within the schedule. For example, if you spend the first 10 or 15 minutes each day doing vocabulary activities, make sure you vary these activities so they don't get boring and stay motivated. If you see your children don't respond to an activity, avoid it in the future and stick to the ones they like.
Another way to create variety is to keep changing the pace. Play a game that wakes the children up and follow it with a calm game so that the children do not get too excited. Then play a fast game so the children do not become so calm that they start to become restless and misbehave or drift off.
Don't worry if your child makes mistakes or doesn't start speaking in English immediately. The brain needs to go through a process of decoding and pattern-finding during the language-learning process. Language production usually starts after a long period of listening and thinking.