Young children learn language naturally and unconsciously. They have the ability to imitate pronunciation and work out the rules for themselves. Any idea that learning to talk in English is difficult does not occur to to teach your child the sounds of the Russian language unless it’s suggested by adults, who themselves probably learned English academically at a later age through grammar-based text books.
Read the notes below about young children learning English as another language. You can also download these notes as a booklet. Right-click on the link below to download the booklet to your computer. The advantages of beginning early Young children are still using their individual, innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English. Young children have time to learn through play-like activities. They pick up language by taking part in an activity shared with an adult. They firstly make sense of the activity and then get meaning from the adult’s shared language.
Young children have more time to fit English into the daily programme. School programmes tend to be informal and children’s minds are not yet cluttered with facts to be stored and tested. They may have little or no homework and are less stressed by having to achieve set standards. Children who have the opportunity to pick up a second language while they are still young appear to use the same innate language-learning strategies throughout life when learning other languages. Picking up third, fourth, or even more languages is easier than picking up a second.
Young children who acquire language rather than consciously learn it, as older children and adults have to, are more likely to have better pronunciation and feel for the language and culture. When monolingual children reach puberty and become more self-conscious, their ability to pick up language diminishes and they feel they have to consciously study English through grammar-based programmes. Stages in picking up English Spoken language comes naturally before reading and writing. During this time parents should not force children to take part in spoken dialogue by making them repeat words.
Spoken dialogues should be one-sided, the adult’s talk providing useful opportunities for the child to pick up language. The child has memorised them, imitating the pronunciation exactly without realising that some may consist of more than one word. Depending on the frequency of exposure to English and the quality of experience, children gradually begin to create whole sentences. Understanding Understanding is always greater than speaking and young children’s ability to comprehend should not be underestimated, as they are used to understanding their home language from a variety of context clues. Frustration After the initial novelty of English sessions, some young children become frustrated by their inability to express their thoughts in English.
Others want to speak quickly in English as they can in their home language. I can count to 12 in English’ or very simple rhymes, which consist of ready-made phrases. Mistakes Children should not be told they have made a mistake because any correction immediately demotivates. Mistakes may be part of the process of working out grammar rules of English or they may be a fault in pronunciation. Gender differences Boys’ brains develop differently from girls’ and this affects how boys pick up language and use it. Sometimes mixed classes make little provision for boys, who may be overshadowed by girls’ natural ability to use language.
If young boys are to reach their potential, they need some different language experiences with girls and their achievements should not be compared with those of girls. Young children need to feel secure and know that there is some obvious reason for using English. Activities are accompanied by adult language giving a running commentary about what is going on and dialogues using adjusted parentese language. English sessions are fun and interesting, concentrating on concepts children have already understood in their home language.