Education is a skillful (and harmonious) mix between school lessons, values instilled at home, and learning in everyday life. In the same way, for English and bilingualism, learning does not stop at the school gates, however good it may be! To progress in English, your child will have to practice it as regularly as possible. Not only at school, but in different environments using several methods as well as using all the resources at their disposal: books, music, online educational sites, videos, or games. Above all it will be up to you as parent, to accompany your child and offer them small exercises so that he can include this learning in his daily routine whatever his age and his level in English… without the responsibility of becoming a private tutor!
Our team of teachers has therefore studied this issue to gather the best advice, tips, and methods to help your child improve their English as naturally as possible and for just a few minutes a day!
1. Combine Learning with Entertainment
Let it be said: children love watching cartoons, while parents often see the television as something that drains a child’s imagination. However when used productively screens can have real benefits in your child’s education. We see this with the emergence of many very well-made educational videos, games, and sites that allow children to learn the English language while having fun. And fun is essential to learning! It is even a driving force in the assimilation of new languages, and more broadly, of new concepts. So rather than banning screens, our teachers suggest using them to your advantage. Help your child perfect their English, encourage them to watch their favorite videos and cartoons in the language of Shakespeare. Make Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig or Harry Potter your greatest allies!
Abroad, and especially in Northern Europe, children are bilingual at a very young age. They learn the English language from primary school as they have more language hours at school. However, above all else, English is completely part of their daily life. When a Dutch child watches an American or English series on television or on Netflix, they watch it in its original version. Films and cartoons are not systematically translated there, as is the case in France.
If you use this method and help your child at the start, you can watch the cartoon with them and repeat a few vocabulary words to then translate them as the action unfolds. Your child will assimilate the word to an image and sometimes even to an emotion. When children know how to read, they can also benefit from French subtitles at the beginning, then in English.
2. Do Not Shun All the Free Content on the Internet
There are excellent free, and educational YouTube channels that offer cartoons in English which are particular to the learning of the English language.
British Council Learn English Kids is a great example in this area. There is also Learning Time with Timmy, a channel for the youngest known all over the world. Two cartoon series, Martha Speaks, which is aimed at children aged 6 to 10, and Doki, a series available on Amazon prime and intended for the little ones, are also very successful.
3. Engage Their Ears
Rhymes and songs, thanks to their rhythms and catchy tunes, are a great asset to help your child sharpen their ear, pick up on the subtleties of an accent and enrich their vocabulary. In addition, music does not require great concentration: in the car or playing in their room, your child will be able to hear tunes in the language of Shakespeare, distinguish the different pronunciations, and grasp the subtleties of the accent. Your child will also be very happy to have you discover or listen to tunes in English that they learn at school. At The Garden Academy, music in English is a tool that we use on a daily basis. As much by listening to nursery rhymes or small musical games, by playing instruments with a teacher, as well as a musician who teaches every week in our schools. Remember, a language is a sequence of sounds…just like music!
4. Enjoy Reading Moments
Bedtime is a special moment between children and their parents: it’s time for cuddling, small moments, and it is also the time for reading with great stories. Reading a book in English to your child, or listening together to audio books in the language of Shakespeare, will allow you to create a bond around learning English. And we’re not going to hide it, at this time of day, children are often very inclined to ask questions and come back to certain situations. No doubt to postpone the deadline for bedtime, but it would be wrong then not to take advantage of it a little!
Like music and cartoons, reading is a great tool for learning a new language. At The Garden Academy we have created a store of English books, The Garden Store, which could inspire you, complete, or fill your child’s library.
📚 THE GARDEN STORE, Online bookstore specializing in English books for children
5. Talk With Them in English
Even if English is not your first language, even if you are not bilingual and your pronunciation is not perfect, do not hesitate to speak or say a few words in English every day to your child. School, books, music and cartoons are prime alternatives which must be complemented by direct and non-virtual contact with the language.
When speaking to your child in English, the challenge will be less to teach them vocabulary and more to encourage him to get started. The French can sometimes be embarrassed by their level of English and taking the plunge by expressing themselves is a crucial step in language learning. In addition, you will show your child that learning a new language can be a lot of fun, especially when the learning is shared with the family.
6. Ask Them To Speak
Ask your child to tell you about their day in English, even very basic comments from the beginning. Start with easy things, a memory of which should be happy for them For example, if you know that they love playing marbles at the playground, ask them questions in English about their last game. If they still can’t form sentences, ask them to answer using a maximum amount of words in English. Enrich their vocabulary, encourage them to express themselves without pressure and without judgment, just for a few minutes. Encourage them have fun and to make learning the language as natural as possible. Above all, always encourage them!! Your role is not to assign a grade or play teacher. Keep in mind that you are not giving him a lesson, but you are exchanging and interacting with him. You will see, by adding small exercises and activities in English with your child, you will make learning this new language a pleasant family routine and well anchored in their daily life..
7. Organize Outings in English
If you take a closer look, you will certainly find events or exhibitions in English in your city that will offer your child the opportunity to enrich their vocabulary, broaden their horizons and discover more about English culture. This will once again be an opportunity to have a good time learning English and continuing the immersion work we do with your children at The Garden Academy. When a child learns a new language, there is of course the integration of new sounds, vocabulary, and grammatical rules. Learning languages is also learning a culture, a way of life, and a way of being. These factors are also very important, because they are the ones that will allow your child to feel completely at ease when they express themselves in the language of Shakespeare.
8. Play With Them
In all areas, learning through play is a method that has always shown excellent results with children. To learn a language, this is one of the best tips that our teachers could give you: on weekends or in the evening, play with your child very simple little games like Simon Says (Jacques a dit in French) or I Spy with my little Eye. We give you the YouTube link for this below. Whatever the age of your child and their level in English, these games could even be of great help to you to pass the time on the train or during a wait in an endless queue!
🎶 I Spy with my Little Eye : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwyv-4sOsrc.
9. 🏆 OUR GOLDEN ADVICE: Make English Part of Your Child’s Routine
Learning a language takes time and practice. By integrating English into your child’s daily routine and providing them with opportunities to use this new language and interact with the English-speaking culture as regularly as possible, you will help them perfect their pronunciation to become completely bilingual with a very good accent.
Your child will also become aware that learning English is not reserved for their schooling and that they can practice this new language in everyday life. One of the methods that we ourselves use in our schools, and that we advise parents to follow, is to offer your child to listen to and learn a song in English while they get dressed in the morning or before going to sleep. For all ages, the internet is full of resources: nursery rhymes, short stories and catchy tunes in the language of Shakespeare.
We have published on our Blog our Top 10 songs and nursery rhymes in English: it should give you some inspiration to renew your audio library!