Teaching language does not have to be bounded by the classroom walls. You can do it everyday with your child, even at home. Do you have family photos? Does your child have favorite toys? If you do, then you have just found the very materials you need to teach your child English informally.

Picture Talk (3-5years old)

Mother reading to her child

Looking at photo albums usually brings back fond memories of things you did with your family. Such pictures help children recall where they have been and what they have done. You can make this a pleasant activity which you and your child partake in during the evenings on the couch, on a regular basis. As you look through old family photos with your child, try to engage him or her in a two way conversation about the photos. Try not to just tell them about the photo and move on to the next page, give your child opportunities to talk about the photo. You can start by asking questions about what they recall. The conversation can go something like this:

Parent: “Hey Joy, do you remember where this was taken?”
Child: “The Zoo.”
Parent: “What were you doing here?”
Child: “Looking at the animals.”
Parent: “Which one did you like best?”
Child: “The tigers.”

learn english through photos

Pictures give children the opportunity to reflect over memories and express personal views concerning those moments. You can also have children talk about photos they were not in, such as old family photos, before they were born. Instead of simply telling them about what happened, have them guess what the people in the photo were doing, what time of the day was it, where the place was. Do not be quick to focus on the right answers, but give your child the opportunity to logically interpret what he or she sees, and expresses them. You can tell them what really happened later, on.

Imagine If… (3-5 years old)

I’m sure every child has at least one or two favorite toys, maybe more. You can put all your child’s toys in a row, and take turns constructing a make-believe sentence including that particular toy, and join these sentences to make a silly story. It does not have to be realistic, but you would want to be grammatically correct, especially on your part as the parent. You can also help your child be grammatically correct not by correcting him or her, but by reiterating what your child said in the grammatically correct manner.

learning english with toys

Say for example your child said, “And the tiger running to the bear to eat him.” You can say, “Do you mean, “The tiger ran to the bear to eat him up?” This way, your child is unconsciously presented with the correct manner of saying things, which he or she will pick up in due time.

Word Hunt: (5-6 years old)

Pick a favorite, commonly occurring word, and look for all the occurrences of the word in the house, be it in speech or print. Be sure to read the context of the word usage with the child. The one who finds the most occurrences of the word wins. You can try, “because”, and “help”, for a start.

By Tabitha Lee

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