Psychologists have proven that learning foreign languages is much easier for children than for adults. Some experts believe that the most successful age is from 4 to 8 years, others are sure that from 1.5 to 7. Anyway, many parents are thinking about how to teach their child English – one of the most common languages in the world.
The choice of teaching methods depends on the age of your child, on whether you (or someone in your family) know English enough to speak it, and how much time and effort you are willing to spend on classes.
What to choose: classes at home or in a group?
Many teachers agree that speaking English is the perfect way to teach a child the language. For example, my mother constantly speaks English at home, while my father speaks Russian. The only condition is that until the child is four years old, do not change roles, otherwise you will confuse him. This is really one of the most effective ways, if you do not speak English enough to speak with your child at least on everyday topics – take an English course. The effort spent will pay off handsomely. As a result, a bilingual child will grow up who will be equally good at both languages, will be able to communicate in any one and easily switch between them.
If no one speaks the language at home, then you can hire a nanny or a tutor who will communicate with the child exclusively in English. If we are talking about a child over four years old, then it is better to find a governor who has lived for some time in an English-speaking country.
You can also prepare small classes yourself and do them regularly for your child. This method has a disadvantage: your son or your daughter perceives you as a parent, family member and may simply refuse to study. It can be difficult to cope with this obstacle, you need to prepare for the lessons very carefully, find or invent games that will delight the child and will not bore him for a long time. Forcing the child will not work, and if it does, you can discourage any desire to study.
The third option is to take your child to a group. The effectiveness of this method depends almost entirely on the teacher. And it doesn’t matter whether he graduated from a pedagogical university. His knowledge of English may be limited to the “children’s program” – the main thing is that he loves children and knows how to interest them.
Whichever option you choose to teach your child (other than creating a language environment), classes should not last more than three hours a week.
Principles of teaching a child English
There are three principles that will help you achieve good results when learning English with your child:
Do not rush to teach your child the intricacies of grammar and spelling if you have even the slightest doubt that he is ready for this. If you are not using any teaching aids and are writing the program yourself, you should pay special attention to presenting the material consistently. Although practice shows that it is still better to use good textbooks, a plan drawn up by a professional philologist will be more effective.
Many parents are sure that there is no need to start classes with a child under five years old, you should wait until he goes to school, otherwise these lessons “take away the child’s childhood.” In fact, if the lessons are organized correctly, they will flow naturally – and the child will not feel any academic load.
It may not go as smoothly as you would like. If your child does not like a certain technique, postpone it for the duration of the lesson, and then try to interest him in the language in a different way.
Teaching methods for children
When choosing a method of learning English, pay attention to what age it is designed for.
1. The play method is liked by both children and teachers, it is interesting and effective. The essence is simple: the teacher conducts games during which children improve their language skills.
Advantages of the technique: it adapts to any age (from one year old), with its help you can develop both oral speech and knowledge of grammar, spelling, etc.
2. Zaitsev’s technique is suitable for children from three years old. It was recently adapted for learning English – on the famous Zaitsev’s cubes, you can now see English letters.
3. Glen Doman’s methodology was developed for babies: they are designed for the child’s visual memory, so that pictures and words written on them will be remembered and will simplify learning to read and write in the future. You can make these cards yourself: Glen Doman has given clear guidelines in his books. You can use cards not only with babies, but also with children up to middle school age.
4. The project methodology is suitable for children from 4-5 years old. The teacher chooses a topic and devotes a series of lessons to it. He offers different types of activities, with the help of which the children learn something interesting on the topic of the project, gives tasks for independent work (or with parents, depending on age). To the final lesson, children bring creative, large-scale works for their age on a given topic.
5. Mixed methodology – in it you, at your own discretion, combine other methods, play games with your child, learn songs, develop projects, etc. The main advantage of the technique is diversity. It will be easier for you to interest the kid, he will never know in advance what you will be doing today.
When should you start teaching your child a language?
If you decide to take up teaching your child seriously and have agreed with your other half to speak two languages at home (or hire a nanny for this), you can start today. There is no age limit.
Have you decided to take your child to a group or study at home? Start no earlier than 4-5 years old. By the time classes begin, the child should have a linguistic picture of his native language, he should have a sufficient vocabulary. If you begin to explain to your child that “house” means “home”, and he does not know what “home” is, the effectiveness of the lesson will be zero.
Good luck to you and your children!