One piece of advice I give to new teachers, especially ones teaching second language learners is to constantly speak to them and ask them questions. This of course gives them more opportunities to hear English as well think in the language and speak it.
Practice, practice, practice!
The more you practice anything, the better you will become. Learning a language is no different.
This of course carries over to parenting and raising a child to speak more than one language. I suppose it will even help a child who is learning only one language.
When my son was an infant, I read in a book about raising children that I should have a constant running dialogue when I am with them. Even when he was too young to speak or communicate in any way, aside from crying, I should speak. At bath time, the running dialogue might sound something like, “Now I’m going to wash your arms. I’m cleaning your arms with soap. Isn’t the water nice and warm? Now I’m rinsing the soap off your arms. Does that feel nice?”
It completely makes sense why this would be good for your child. While they are with you they hear your voice and are surrounded by the language they will someday speak. It’s another form of mental stimulation. Sounds straightforward and easy, but I often find this type of running dialogue difficult to maintain. I suppose it is a little mentally taxing for me and sometimes I simply forgot to do it.
When my son was younger and even now I find myself zoning out when I am doing something that required concentration such as giving him a bath. When I would zone out, I would stop speaking.
Today I went for a walk with my son and spoke to him the entire time. I asked him questions about the vehicles we saw as well as the plants and flowers we walked past. “Is that a white or a blue car? Look at the ambulance. Is it loud? Did you see all of the pink flowers on the tree? Do you want to go to the supermarket? What kind of juice do you want?”
I realize that English is my son’s second language and I need to pick up my game and start exposing him to more of it.
I have to admit that while I need to pick up my game as a teacher at home, my wife has been doing a fantastic job all along. She has that constant dialogue with my son and speaks to him in both Japanese and English.
Another thing we have been doing all along, but more now that our son is speaking a lot is discussing his “linguistic future.” We spend a great deal of time talking about how we can work together to make sure his English skills are strong. We have been discussing what type of schools he should attend. We have also been discussing how we will teach him to read and write English if he attends a Japanese school.
Luckily I’m not stressed about that since I have been teaching of many years and have spent the last 5 years teaching young children phonics and writing.
More updates and ideas to come.
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