It’s easy to say that ESL students and parents should speak English at home to help students learn English faster and better (and it’s true), but just saying it may not be enough to understand why that’s the case. Here are some specific examples that can help.
It’s Important to Speak English at Home to…
1. Offer More Practice
While practice may not make perfect, it definitely makes improvement. That’s true for any subject, and the more complex the subject is, the more important it is to practice regularly. And English is definitely a complex subject.
Learning and practicing at school isn’t enough to excel. Students need to speak and read English at home, too, to get enough experience to do their best.
2. Emphasize the Importance
Making the time and effort to speak English with your children sends a very clear message: learning English is important. That message alone can make a meaningful difference in how kids approach learning English. It can raise their efforts and focus: two key elements of success.
3. Share the Knowledge
Speaking English at home benefits everyone, especially in families with more than one child. Older children can share grammar and syntax rules that they learn, and younger children can share foundational rules that older children might miss by starting English in a later grade (like pronunciation and spelling rules). And those tidbits can benefit adults, as well.
So simply by talking to each other in English, the entire family learns and improves.
4. Link English to Their Native Language
In public schools, teachers often have multiple ESL students and may not be able to speak the same language as any of those students. Granted, young students tend to learn languages more quickly than adults, and teachers have training and techniques that can help. With that said, there are times when being able to explain something in a language the child knows is invaluable.
That’s where the child’s parents and siblings have an advantage. They can answer questions in a language the child knows well, and sometimes, that clarification can greatly enhance the child’s level of understanding. That’s something children can’t take advantage of if they don’t speak English around their parents!
5. Keeps the Parents Updated on the Student’s Progress
When do parents know their child’s skill level best? When they are involved. Parents who help their children with homework and tutor their children on issues are the ones who have the best understanding of how the students are doing and what they need to work on.
Speaking English at dinner or in the living room may not seem the same as helping the child with a math problem, but in many ways, it is. Pronunciation, vocabulary, listening skills, and grammar are all being practiced and polished through conversation, and at the same time, parents are seeing exactly what their child can do.
That’s 5 advantages to using English in regular conversation at home, and, believe me, teachers see the difference in school as students who were struggling with English begin to make more and more progress. That’s what every parent wants, and in this case, there is a clear and simple way that you can help: speak English at home.
How do you help your kids practice English? Share your tips with other parents!
Author: Elizabeth F., Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead