A Love for Learning: 3 Things You Can Do To Make Learning English Enjoyable

SeedsForSuccess  3 Things You Can Do To Make Learning English Enjoyable The mind of a child is like a sponge—it can soak up new information almost effortlessly. For this reason, many parents decide to expose their children to different languages while they are still young. Children have been created with such a curious and programmable mind that is ripe for learning.   However, as children are acquiring a new language, parents and teachers should be cognizant of more than just what information is being learned. There also needs to be a sensitive awareness of the how the information is being learned.   For children, learning should be engaging, interactive, and enjoyable. So here are 3 things you can do to make learning English enjoyable:  
  1. Play Learning Games
There is so much evidence to support the importance of play in a child’s learning. Along with their ability to learn, children have been created with an innate desire and need to play. So as you approach your English curriculum, ask yourself the following questions: Will this lesson/activity make my child excited or bored? Will this lesson/activity encourage my child to move around or keep them confined to a chair? Will this lesson/activity involve a fun, thought-provoking challenge or a mundane memorization task? Will this lesson/activity be one they look forward too or dread in the future?   There are endless amounts of English learning games available on the internet. Don’t be afraid to search for them and to try out new activities that will make your child eager to learn English!  
  1. Tailor Learning to Personal Interests
As a parent, we have a pretty keen sense of what our children like. So use this to your advantage when you design English lessons. If your child is interested in animals, teach them English vocabulary about animals. Allow them to read books in English about animals. Encourage them to create a puppet show in English about animals! Find ways to incorporate their personal interests into the learning and they will be far more engaged.  
  1. Celebrate Progress
Learning a new language is scary sometimes—especially when it comes to speaking! Therefore, sensitivity and praise are both key aspects of English instruction. If all a child hears when attempting to recall, write, or speak a word in English is “No. That’s not correct”, then he or she will lose self-esteem as well as motivation to learn. A child’s progress, no matter how small, needs to be celebrated! Take time throughout every lesson and at the end of every lesson to make them aware of what they did well. It’s even a good idea to establish a system of rewards to positively emphasize your child’s learning milestones. Did they read through an entire book without making an error? Reward them with a visit to the ice cream shop! Did they complete an impressive project? Take them to see a movie! Let them know that their learning matters. As you consistently commend their progress, they will be encouraged to continue reaching their learning goals.   As your child works hard to acquire the English language, make sure their learning is entertaining, personalized, as well as highly-valued along the way.  

Learning with Labels: 3 Easy Steps to Promote English Acquisition in Your Home

SeedsForSuccess Learning with Labels: 3 Easy Steps to Promote English Acquisition in Your Home One of the major components of learning any language is vocabulary. Communicating, reading, and writing in a foreign language all depend upon a strong, working understanding of words and their meanings. As a former professional educator, I had the privilege of working with many young English Language Learners. A strategy I used to reinforce their understanding of words was to label objects within the classroom. Then, I would make a conscious effort to refer verbally to those objects while interacting and communicating with my English Language Learners. I would also draw their attention to the printed label. By labeling objects and referring to them frequently, my students had the opportunity to associate spoken English to written English. Thus, each and every day their collection and understanding of English words would grow. MEG_labelsblog This effective vocabulary building strategy can be duplicated in your own home in 3 easy steps: Step 1: Choose a Variety of Objects in Your Home You could start with objects in your child’s room or you could choose objects from around the entire house. If your child is old enough, allow them to be involved in the hunt for objects! This will increase their excitement and ownership of the learning. Also, in an effort not to overwhelm your child, try to begin with around 10 objects total. Once your child has learned to successfully identify and name the object in English, you can label some more! Step 2: Use a Multilingual Resource to Create Labels Google Translate is a great resource to use as you create your labels, but any multilingual dictionary you have access to will do! You can make labels out of index cards, Post It notes, or blank stickers. Whatever material you choose, it’s important to make the words large and visible from a distance, while also taking into consideration the eye-level of your child. Again, allow your child to be involved in the creation process! You could even encourage them to draw and color a picture of the object next to the word. Step 3: Refer to the Objects Consistently This is especially true in the beginning! Make an effort every day, multiple times a day, to refer to the labeled objects. Your child needs to hear the words spoken repeatedly before they can successfully identify the object or refer to it by name. To make it exciting, you might want to make it into a game. Send them on a hunt to find the object you call out! Give them opportunities every day to identify the objects when they are named, as well as to say the name of the objects. Labels are a valuable tool for teaching English words in your home!    

The Power of Pictures: 3 Reasons Why English Language Learners Should Go On Picture Walks

SeedsForSuccess There is an expression we use in English that says, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Simply stated, pictures have the power to convey meaningful concepts just as effectively as words. As a child is learning the English language, it is critical that he or she be interacting frequently with books. But that interaction doesn’t necessarily start with the text itself. Beyond mere text, there is a powerful tool in many books that should be used initially to help a child develop their understanding of English: Pictures! Colorful, expressive, and full of details—pictures truly do have the ability to communicate the key elements of a story. Before your English Language Learner dives into the text, they should first interact with the pictures. A “Picture Walk” is a strategy used to guide a child through the illustrations before the actual text is read. This strategy is primarily utilized whenever the child is interacting with a brand new book. While there are many benefits to this strategy, here are 3 reasons why English Language Learners should go on Picture Walks: Reason 1: It Helps to Activate Prior Knowledge Every child possesses a wealth of personal knowledge and experiences. They bring this knowledge and experience with them every time they open a new book. This is referred to as their prior knowledge. Pictures will instantly activate, or turn on, their prior knowledge, which will propel them to start thinking about and relating to the text. Let’s say that a child knows a lot about cats. Perhaps they even have a pet cat. When that child opens a new book and sees a cat in the pictures, they will automatically start to think about all the things cats do and need. They will think about their own cat and the experiences they have with it. All the vocabulary they already know about cats will begin to flood their minds. In turn, they will then be able to relate this information—their prior knowledge—to what they see occurring in the actual illustrations. Ultimately, the pictures will get them thinking, and thinking will lead to a much better understanding of the text. Reason 2: It Allows for Explicit Vocabulary Instruction When English Language Learners embark on a Picture Walk, they will have the opportunity to be taught new English vocabulary in a direct way. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the adult to preview the pictures and learn the English vocabulary that will be taught prior to the Picture Walk. Then, during the Picture Walk, the adult can point to various objects within the illustrations and directly teach the English name for those specific objects. English Language Learners can expand their English vocabulary significantly by discussing the objects present in the pictures. Reason 3: It Strengthens Overall Comprehension The major goal of reading in any language is comprehension. Yes, it’s great if a child can read all of the words in a book without a single error. However, if they don’t understand what they’ve read, then they are missing a key component of literary success. When an English Language Learner previews the pictures of a story, they are gaining a basic understanding of the characters, setting, and events of that story. As a result, when they do attempt to read the text for the first time, they will be able to better connect the unfamiliar words to the now-familiar pictures. Essentially, they will be able to better comprehend what is being communicated. The power of pictures should never be underestimated when it comes to learning English.