I think we can all agree that learning is supposed to be fun, especially when we are talking about children. Children tend to learn faster and stay interested when having fun. So, how can we make sure that our children stay interested in learning English? How do you make learning a language fun?
Learning a language can be tricky, so it is important to keep the level of the child in mind. No one wants to be overwhelmed with tasks that are too difficult, and the same goes for underwhelming with levels that are too low. An appropriate level will provide the child with a challenge that is just enough to bring a sense of achievement when succeeding, without wanting to give up if it does not work out perfectly right away. Everyone needs to be able to feel proud of the little steps in the right directions. With the right level and encouragement on the way, your child will want to continue to learn, to see even greater achievements.
Let your child have a say in the learning method. Every person has their own ways of taking in information, perhaps they prefer reading books or maybe making their own little stories where they can draw accompanying pictures? Or perhaps they want to engage in a conversation, point out things and discuss it with you? Maybe they will learn new words from their bilingual babysitter that they want to share with you in a fun way. There are many ways of taking in information, make sure you learn what works best and is the most fun for your child.
Try creating content together. Draw pictures and write accompanying words or stories and display them in your home. Print out letters to decorate your child’s room, this can be used for both English and Spanish learning, in both spelling and pronunciation. This is also a great way for your child to interact with a bilingual babysitter. Look at family pictures and talk about the relationships, “sister”, “grandma”, “dad”, or point out colors, clothes, and body parts. Create puzzles, memory games or other fun activities. Be creative, you can learn by doing pretty much anything, and if the child is part of creating or coming up with content, they will most likely want to be part executing it too.
Something else to think about is how to incorporate English in your daily lives. This way it does not have to feel like a studying session but rather “learning as you go”. Utilize what is around you, talk about furniture in the house, food you are cooking or any pets you may have. Or try finding their favorite cartoon in English or play children’s songs in English. This way you can engage in the material while having your snack break or while playing. And the best way to get your child to engage, is if you try to use the language English too, make it a fun activity for you both. Practicing English does not have to be difficult, just try to use a couple of words or sentences here and there, while you are going on with your daily activities. If you have an English-speaking babysitter, they will be part of this experience too, making the learning methods even more diverse and fun.
Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement. Learning English needs to be a process, your child will experience both ups and downs along the way… and you may too. Let it be okay to be frustrated or for it to be difficult at times, as long as there is the encouragement to continue to learn and continue to make mistakes here and there, it is all part of the process.
To conclude, have fun! Enjoy this moment of learning and development for your child. Learning should not have to be boring or frustrating; it should be fun. Don’t make it about having a strict scheduled class with specific exercises, leave that for the school, your opportunity at home is to create an environment where the child feels confident enough to make mistakes, laugh at mispronounced or difficult words, and learn together with their parent or babysitter.