What have you tried to get your kids interested in English?
If you’re like most parents, you might have told them that learning English will be helpful in the future. However, psychology tells us that the idea of working for a reward far in the future isn’t motivating for adults — let alone kids!
So today, we’ll introduce five easy things you can do at home that will actually make your child interested in English (read: trick them into thinking it was their idea). We’ll focus on kids ages ten and under in this post.
1. Make English a Part of Daily Life
Kids are smart and will quickly realize if you’re trying to teach them something they don’t find very useful. So your first order of business is to prevent your child from asking, “Why do I need English?” by making it as easy and natural to them as breathing.
A good way to do that is to introduce them to English as early as possible. There are plenty of ways for you to do so, such as the following:
- Buy them toys and books that use English.
- If you plan to hire a nanny, try to find one who speaks English or knows it well enough to use some with your child.
- Speak in English with your friends in front of your child. If that’s not an option, you can practice having conversations with an Engoo tutor!)
- If your child is allowed to use a tablet or a phone, be sure to set the language to English.*
You can also merge English with some regular routines you have with your kid. For example, let’s say you’re grocery shopping with your child. On the car ride over, you can play some kids music in English. (Super Simple Songs is a good place to start if need some ideas!)
And at the grocery store, make a game out of getting the products you want by asking your child to get you things in English (“Go get … bananas! Go get … apples! I bet you don’t remember what kiwis are!”).
By exposing your child to English on a daily basis, they’ll not only become familiar with how the language sounds and looks. Using English will also become second nature for them.
*Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend children under the age of 18 months use screens, unless they are making video calls.
2. Make English Fun For You and Your Child
Many parents these days feel pressure to turn their children into fluent English speakers early on. However, it’s better to take things step-by-step. For now, focus on sparking their interest in English first.
Remember that an important part of being interested in something is not hating it. So try to focus on making your child’s early experiences with English as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
This means that instead of sending them to English classes that drill them in grammar and vocabulary, it’s probably better to play them kid-friendly movies, TV shows, and music.
To get started, you can check out Peppa Pig’s official Youtube channel and Disney+, which streams Disney movies as well as National Geographic documentaries, and other fun, educational content in English.
Keep in mind that every child has a different definition of “fun.” If your child is into sports, you might have to watch sports matches in English. If your child is into cooking, watch cooking shows and try to cook things from recipes in English.
And don’t forget that fun is contagious. If your kid sees you having fun with English, they are more likely to enjoy it as well. We’ve had parents who’ve told us about how they would often play some English songs they liked while doing housework and how one day, their children would suddenly start singing along!
3. Make English About Family
Keep in mind that interaction is key to learning languages, whether it’s our native tongue or a foreign language. After all, languages aren’t a one-way street!
So when possible, try to use some English when doing activities with your child. Watch movies, sing English songs, and play simple games with them (e.g. hide-and-seek) using English.
Doing arts and crafts together, such as origami or painting, is a good way to introduce them to simple nouns, shapes, and colors. (Remember that working on your child’s motor skills may also help their language development!)
And don’t forget about picture books! These can be bilingual or fully in English. Classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar are a big hit with kids and have at most one sentence per page, so they shouldn’t be hard to read even if you don’t feel confident in your English.
And if you’re hesitant to read to your kids in English, there are plenty of videos of people who do this which you can learn from. But know that it’s better if your child hears you reading and not some person from the computer. And don’t stress if you make mistakes. The purpose of these activities is to have fun with your child while doing something in English!
4. Make English About Friends
It’s important for children to realize why English is useful for them, and a good way to do this is to make friends who speak the language.
In fact, if a child doesn’t have English-speaking peers, they’ll see no reason to use it and may even ask you to stop using it with them altogether!
So to make sure English stays important to them, here are some tips:
- Find a playgroup with English-speaking kids. These don’t have to be totally in English. In fact, it’s good to have a mix of local families and those from English-speaking backgrounds. The important thing is that everyone wants to raise their kids to be bilingual and bicultural.
- Enroll your child in an interdisciplinary English-speaking preschool or kindergarten, where they don’t just teach English as a class, but also use it to teach other subjects.
- If you have friends or family in English-speaking countries who have kids, try to visit them during holidays and video-call each other the rest of the year. That way, they’ll associate English with these fun holidays and new friends.
- Hire some older English-speaking kids who are good at the things your child is interested in.
If you can’t organize in person meet-ups for your kids, try showing them videos of kids around the world who can speak English and try finding penpals from other countries they can write to or video-call with.
5. Online Tutoring
In case you need more ideas, here’s one final suggestion: online tutoring.
Online tutoring is an easy and affordable way to get your child the one-to-one interaction they need to learn English without “breaking the bank” for an expensive private tutor. Online tutoring also eliminates the hassle of dropping off and picking up your kids.
With Engoo, you can also rest assured that our tutors will get your kids hooked on English. They praise and reward kids frequently, allowing them to enjoy the learning process. We’ve also got thousands of tutors from over a hundred countries. This means that we’re open 24/7 and your child can meet people from all over the world, developing a global mindset early on. Newly registered users get a free lesson, so give us a try!