English has become the language spoken most often at home in Singapore. The recent General Household Survey by the Department of Statistics shows nearly 40 per cent of residents aged five and older use English most often at home. Yet, many children continue to face challenges in using English fluently in daily conversation and creative writing.
What are the reasons behind these worrying trends?
The problem is that most children treat English as a school subject, which is the worst way to learn and master a language.
English is embedded in everyday life and contexts. This is the reason why real fluency cannot be attained through memorisation or assessment books—the progress gained through these tools are limited at best.
Fluency is like a dance; learners must be able to relate their life experiences to the language in order to tap into their imagination. When your child is using their imagination, they are having fun; they are excited to learn; they are stretching their natural abilities.
So how do you spark your child’s imagination?
You can start by thinking about something that you love to do and imagine how it would be like to have the same passion for English. Connect the language to the things that your child naturally enjoys, including their natural abilities and interests.
Remember, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” The same goes for learning English.
Here are 5 tips on how to help your child enjoy learning (and mastering) this beautiful language.
1) Connect English to what your child already enjoys
Perhaps your child has an inner artist, or he loves building Lego. Wherever his interests lie, use that as an entry point. Use new words to describe a favourite artist’s painting, for example. Or draw on his latest Lego creation to build a story or stage a drama; remember to throw in (or pretend to be) a villain, and use emotional words in your dialogue such as “bellowed” or “belittled” instead of “he said” or “she did…”
Another method is to draw on IT. At ELLoquence, we embed technology in our lessons in a selective and engaging way, using it to help enhance our students’ understanding of certain topics, and to feed their curiosity.
2) Organise vocabulary into categories for meaningful application of new knowledge
Context is king. A same word differs in meaning and weight when used in varying context. Hence, learning it is more effective to understand how a word has been used and why it is used in the sentence.
This is why we begin every English lesson with either reading a text or watching a video. It is also why we encourage our students to learn phrases rather than words. Through this contextual approach, our learners are better able to grasp how words fit together with each other as well as their definitions.
Learners expand their vocabulary through better understanding of sentence making.
Jasmine walks into the house.
Jasmine walks excitedly into the house.
Jasmine walks into the house with a bounce in her steps.
To consolidate this, we give our learners the opportunity to apply their new knowledge in speaking and writing exercises.
3) Teach English using your child’s preferred learning style
The seven learning styles include:
- Visual: Your child prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Auditory: Your child prefers using sound and music.
- Linguistic: Your child prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical: Your child prefers using his body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical: Your child prefers using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social: Your child prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary: Your child prefers self-study.
Your child’s preferred learning style may have more influence than you may realise. It guides the way they learn, and may affect how they internally represent experiences, recall information, and even the words they choose.
To help our students achieve fluency, ELLoquence’s team of teachers plans a variety of activities to engage with the kids’ different interests and learning styles. A typical English lesson would include audio texts, video clips, group discussions, writing and reading exercises, as well as reflective self-assessments.
4) Have a goal in mind
With purpose, comes motivation.
Your child should have an idea of the benchmark and standards in order to progress towards them. In line with our national English curriculum standards, we will guide your child to identify clear learning objectives and pen down well-defined personal achievements.
Beyond academics, we also advocate learning English holistically and teach non-academic life skills such as confidence and etiquette in handling the language. After all, the purpose of learning English is to equip your child with the skill to communicate with confidence, act with intention, and handle different life situations with ease.
5) Practice and revise daily
As with everything, regular practice makes progress.
If your child does not have a habit to revise daily, start with small steps. The important thing is to be present to handle your child’s queries and arouse his interest to learn.
ELLoquence provides a digital curriculum that your child can access at home, at any time 24/7. You can also stay abreast of what your child is learning, so you can reinforce it at home.
Our hope is that your child falls in love with the English Language, seeing it not merely as a subject but also a life skill. When this happens, they will be able to attain higher proficiency levels, and do well in life to achieve their dreams.
Let your child come onboard ELLoquence today!
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