How can parents promote their child’s English-learning journey?
Different ways to help your child learn English at home.
Parents often wonder what they can do to support their child’s learning at home. Be it maths, science or English as a second language, a parent’s involvement in their children’s education is essential to the child’s success in school and in their learning process. This is especially true when the child is learning English as a second language because they have very limited opportunities to listen to, practice and use English outside of the 3-4 hours a week that they spend in English class. So, if you’ve been asking yourself what you can do to help your child learn English, we’ll give you some tips that you can do at home (or anywhere really!) that will progress your child’s English skills even faster!
Motivate them through technology.
In the same way, and relevant to older kids and teens as well, make sure your devices and gaming consoles are set to English, and more importantly, that the gameplay is in English. Very little motivates children and teens more than technology. And this is not surprising: as digital natives, our children’s generation was born into a world where technology is not only everywhere but also indispensable in our day to day lives. Where there is motivation, there is interest and thus, improved learning. Buy your child’s next video game in English and create a need for them to learn the words used and understand the language being spoken. For older teens, multiplayer video games are an excellent way for them to practice their English speaking skills with other players around the world who don’t speak their language.
Here are some websites where your kids canplay games, watch interactive videos and even write stories in English while having fun:
Lastly, I want to share one of the most effective yet easiest English-teaching methods that teachers use in their classrooms: songs and rhymes! Music is repetitive and rhythmic, which helps us learn English more easily and in an enjoyable way. When a person listens to a song again and again, they slowly start learning the words, then the structures and during this process they’re learning
pronunciation, intonation, rhythm and pitch. Furthermore, listening to music and singing are fun and motivating for children, as well as a good way for them to build confidence and practice their speaking skills. Cambridge suggests “for 5-11 year olds, choose songs with a lot of rhyming words and rhythms that repeat. This makes it easier for children to learn new words and start singing along.” On the other hand, for older teens, songs provide the perfect opportunity to combine their interests with learning English. They will definitely be motivated to understand and learn a song in English if they enjoy listening to it. Check out lyricstraining.com for a fun, interactive game to listen to music.
And if you want to go the extra mile..
If you’re already doing all of the above or you just want more ideas to help your child improve their English even further, we’ll offer you some out-of-the-box ideas you might not have considered:
Sometimes, it’s the simple things that are most effective. Simply discussing your child’s English lessons or English-learning helps your child reflect on what they’ve learned and consolidates their memory. Ask them one word they learned that day or one game/activity that made them happy and encourage a conversation.
Whip out the label maker (or just use post-its) and help your kids learn the words for common objects in English by labeling them. Repetition is key for memory retention, so if every time your child wants to use his favorite toy truck, s/he sees ‘TRUCK’ written on it, s/he will definitely remember it and start using it in the future!
Feel like spending some time with your child on a nice Sunday morning? Make a delicious recipe or a cool craft with them by following instructions in English. Go to Highlight Kids youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4p_YSvJlJpEhAh5PMyhkiQ/videos) and find your favorite recipe or craft; help your child learn basic instructions and vocabulary in English, while they’re having fun and learning life skills. Active learning, or learning by doing, is one of the best ways to help your child learn English.
Learning English yourself is the best way to help your child progress in their English-learning journey. Being able to use the language with them provides a great opportunity for them to practice their speaking and listening skills. Also, learning together can be a very motivating experience for the children.
And of course…Let’s watch it in English.
We’ll end with the easiest one but also the one that will end up influencing your child quite a lot: set your T.V. (or streaming platform) to English. During a child’s early development, the brain acquires and develops all the sounds that belong to their native language, so that the child is then able to use it in vocal speech. The brain does this by analyzing everything the child listens to and then transforming it into mouth movements that the child can then imitate to produce a specific sound. How many times did you repeat ‘momma’ or ‘dada’ to your child before they were able to say it? They have to hear a word said at different times, by different people, before they even attempt it. You can aid your child’s English-learning by exposing them to the sounds and rhythm of the English language so that it can be easier for them to replicate in the future.
If you feel that changing a setting is not enough, you could try more hands-on strategies. Help your child’s sound awareness by playing games with your refrigerator magnets: start with ‘cat’ and then change a letter to make ‘mat’ or ‘bat’. Kids also love silly tongue twisters that unknowingly help them differentiate and practice similar sounds. Another alternative that’ll be very fun for your kids is making letters out of pipe cleaners, play-doh or even food, and practising the sounds with them.
In the end, every little bit counts and anything you can do at home will help your child develop their language skills in English, so try at least one of our tips!
“Dímelo y me olvidaré. Enséñamelo y me acordaré. Implícame y aprenderé.”
La forma en que nos enseñan determina cómo retenemos y consolidamos lo aprendido. Con los métodos tradicionales, el alumno es un sujeto pasivo en su propio proceso de aprendizaje. John Dewey, el destacado pedagogo estadounidense propuso que “si el conocimiento proviene de las impresiones que nos hacen los objetos naturales, es imposible obtener conocimiento sin el uso de objetos que impresionan la mente”. Este enfoque ha sido la inspiración para el innovador método de enseñanza del inglés aplicado en FunTalk.
Cuando somos niños aprendemos explorando nuestros alrededores, y muchos de nosotros, continuamos aprendiendo de esta manera. Los bebés no aprenden de “fichas” ni de instrucciones de los padres, sino de interactuar con su medio y tener experiencias enriquecedoras. Por eso es tan importante en el proceso de enseñanza, presentar al alumno, sin importar la edad, situaciones en las cuales deban adoptar un papel activo en su aprendizaje. Y con esto nos referimos a enseñar mediante actividades donde el alumno deba llevar a cabo acciones o tareas con un determinado fin; de esta manera, el aprendizaje no es un destino a alcanzar, sino el camino recorrido.
Este enfoque se denomina aprendizaje activo y ha probado ser un método de enseñanza especialmente eficaz, especialmente en la enseñanza de idiomas. H. W. Reese (2011), expone que “los idiomas se aprenden mejor con su uso que con reglas formales”. Podemos saber todas las reglas gramaticales de una lengua pero si no lo aplicamos a situaciones auténticas, no podremos utilizarlo como forma comunicativa. Además, al participar en actividades en las que pueden crear cosas, usar sus manos, resolver problemas, etc., los alumnos están mucho más motivados (Owens, Sadler, Barlow, & Smith-Walters, 2017), lo cual a su vez afecta positivamente la atención y la consolidación de la memoria (Cavenagh, 2016).
Por estas razones estamos convencidos que en FunTalk hemos diseñado un método eficaz, motivador y divertido para que todas las edades puedan aprender inglés en una forma memorable y significativa. Nuestras clases dinámicas ofrecen a los alumnos contextos comunicativos donde aprender y practicar lenguaje relevante. Y lo que nos hace únicos, nuestros emblemáticos talleres, ofrecen a los alumnos oportunidades para aprender en situaciones de la vida real, no sólo inglés, sino herramientas que luego podrán aplicar en otros contextos de sus vidas.
En definitiva, nuestros alumnos están contentos porque aprenden de forma natural y significativa. Además, nuestros alumnos más jóvenes vienenentusiasmados porque no vienen a sentarse frente a un libro sino a hablar, jugar, crear, pensar, reflexionar y desarrollar sus habilidades; y eso, ¡los padres lo valoran! Estamos agradecidos de poder compartir nuestra visión con tantas familias y ver con el paso del tiempo el progreso de todos nuestros alumnos.
Reese, H. W. (2011). The learning-by-doing principle. Behavioral Development Bulletin, 17(1), 1–19. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fh0100597
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
The way we are taught determines how well we retain and consolidate knowledge. Within traditional teaching methods, the student is viewed simply as a passive listener in their learning process. Prominent American educational reformer John Dewey argued that “if knowledge comes from the impressions made upon us by natural objects, it is impossible to procure knowledge without the use of objects which impress the mind”. This approach to learning has been the inspiration for our groundbreaking language-teaching method at FunTalk.
As children, we learn by exploring our environment, and many of us continue to learn this way throughout our lives. Babies don’t learn from worksheets or from parents’ instructions, but from interacting with their surroundings and having meaningful experiences. This is why it’s so important as teachers to place students, regardless of age, in situations in which they have the opportunity to become personally and actively involved in their learning process. In other words, to present students with activities where they are able to carry out tasks and use their skills to work towards a specific purpose; in this way, learning is the journey as opposed to the destination.
This approach is called active learning and it has proved to be a particularly effective teaching method, especially in language teaching. H. W. Reese (2011) argued that “languages are learned better by use than by formal rules”. It’s possible to know the grammar of a language perfectly, but if we don’t practice it in meaningful and authentic contexts, we will never be able to use it as a means of communication. Furthermore, by being involved in activities where they can create, use tools, solve problems, etc. students’ motivation increases significantly (Owens, Sadler, Barlow, & Smith-Walters, 2017), which in turn positively impacts key learning characteristics such as attention and memory consolidation (Cavenagh, 2016).
That’s why we’re convinced that at FunTalk we have created an effective, motivating and fun method for children, teens, and adults alike to learn English in a memorable and meaningful way. Our dynamic lessons offer students communicative contexts where they are able to learn and practice functional language. Moreover, our emblematic workshops provide real-life situations for students to learn in, not only English but also tools that they can later use in a variety of contexts in their lives.
On the whole, our students are pleased because they learn in a natural and meaningful way. In addition, our younger students come to class eager and excited because they’re not sitting in front of a book, but speaking, playing, creating, thinking, reflecting and developing their skills; that’s something parents appreciate! We’re so grateful that we’re able to share our vision and watch our students’ constant progress over time.
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