Hey, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we’re going to talk about how to teach your kids English.
As English learners, you know how important it is to start learning English early, so you can get a head start when it comes to English. At the same time, as English learners, you’re probably thinking to yourself that you are not enough or capable enough to teach your kids English. And this is why I created this video.
Because as English learners, not only that you can teach your kids English but you should teach your kids English as well. Learning from you is totally different than learning from a teacher. And before you go and spend money on teachers or on schools, I want to give you a few ideas that you can implement in your home to help them associate a good experience with English, and allow the bond that you have contribute to this good experience around learning English.
Because you don’t have to have perfect grammar or perfect pronunciation to teach your kids. And nothing guarantees that if you send them to a teacher, that teacher would do a better job than you. You don’t know what happens there. And while there are fantastic teachers, sometimes there are teachers who don’t really know what your kid or kids need.
And then it’s just a waste of time, a waste of money, and your kids might associate a negative experience with learning English cause they won’t be willing to do that or excited to do it. And that’s exactly what we want them to feel and experience – excited, curious, interested. And they need to have fun.
So even if English is not your native language, you definitely should and can teach your kids English. Especially these days – I’m recording this episode during Covid-19 – where so many families are at home, parents are with their kids. And not all parents have the time to teach their kids during these times.
A lot of parents work from home and they’re just trying to get by. So if that’s you, don’t worry about it. There’s a ton of resources online on YouTube, on television that can help your kids get comfortable with English.
But if you do have the 20 minutes, 30 minutes a day to work with your kids on English, I want to give you a few tips to make it effective and fun for both of you. So let’s get started.
Well, first, I want to go back to the fact that you have all the permission in the world to teach your kids English, even if your English is still broken, even if it’s not perfect. They don’t need to speak to native speakers, especially when they’re just starting out, using words and simple phrases, and sentences, and isolated sounds where it’s easier for you to make those sounds rather than in a word or in context of speaking. I mean, that is enough for them.
I have a bunch of videos and I’m going to link to it in the description below. A bunch of videos where you can actually download a list of words with, with the recording. So you can practice it with them. Because as an English learner, I think it’s extremely valuable to do it together.
They see you learning, they learn with you, you practice words together. They see that you are too, and you are their role model, right? They want to be like you. They learn from you. What it means to be, to be learning, to be a self learner and to be in this constant state of self-improvement. So do it with them, improve your English, and improve theirs as well.
Which leads me to the next point, where what you want to do when teaching is to really associate a positive experience around English, around communicating in English and around speaking in English.
Because here’s the thing. When they’re going to go to school and learn English, they’re going to learn all the grammar rules, and they’re going to get lists of words, and they’re going to fill out exercises and learn how to read and write. So maybe this is not what you need to teach them. Maybe what you need to focus on is the experience and building up that confidence in speaking.
Because when they get to school, they learn that there is right and wrong in English. Instead, teaching them English and supporting them while making mistake and while not having the right answers, might be the best thing for them. So they can build up that confidence and will learn that it’s okay to make mistakes. No one’s angry.
And even though kids tend to be perfectionists – my daughter is an extreme perfectionist, I don’t know who she got this from – but it’s hard for her to make mistakes or not have the right answers.
And I do my best to support her and not fuel that there is a problem. Not with this feeling of, “Ooh, I just messed up”, but also with the fact that she messed up and it’s okay. Because what is messing up anyway when it comes to English? It’s not a thing. It’s a thing if you decide that it’s a thing. But trying to communicate is all that we’re looking for.
And if you’ve followed me for a little bit, you know that when I talk about communicating in English, I first and foremost talk about the mindset and the confidence. And this is what you need to pass on to your kids when working with them on English.
So, there is no real right and wrong as long as you’re trying, even if you mess up, that’s what needs to lead you as you’re working with your kids on English. Also, as I said, it needs to be fun, engaging and it needs to get them curious about the language.
So you need to see what your child needs, loves, wants. Do they like to play physical games? Do they like to play with small toys? Do they like walking around and running around or cooking? Like what can you do that your kid loves doing anyway and how can you incorporate English into that?
So it doesn’t need to be like, “Oh, let’s sit at the table, open up the notebooks and learn English”. Because that is not going to serve them as well as doing something that creates an experience. Also, I think that approaching pronunciation, something that usually kids don’t learn in school is very important.
So it doesn’t need to be, “Okay. Let’s drill sounds right now”, but playing with sounds. So, for example, I don’t teach my girls English. I don’t speak English at home. I do incorporate English on the go. I read them in English, I say words in English every now and then. I speak sometimes in English to them, but I don’t deliberately teach them, and I don’t only speak English at home.
But what I do do consistently is play with sounds. So for example, if I want them to learn the R sound, and I have seen, like at first when they just started doing it, it was impossible for them to make the ‘ur’ sound. But just by repetition and saying words and playing around with it, they have gotten to pronounce this sound super clearly, accurately, it’s so much easier for a kid.
So when you introduce them to sounds of English, especially tricky sounds – like the R and the TH, and the open vowel sounds like ‘aa’ and ‘ah’. Like when you associate sounds that don’t exist in your native language and you just say words without even talking about the definition, right?
Like let’s just play an imitation game, when, where you say a word and they repeat. I think that’s extremely valuable, and they start recognizing the sounds, which is something that people lose the ability of doing that, especially when they encounter spelling.
So by the fact that you are giving them the gift of recognizing sounds, I think it’s extremely valuable, and it’s also a lot easier for them to hear something and automatically produce it or reproduce it. It’s so much easier for them when they’re kids and when they’re younger, than when they grow up and they’re more stuck on the sounds that they already know.
So having them repeat sounds or listen to words and then just repeat it without even talking about the meaning of them is such an incredible gift when they’re just starting out. Because that would serve them a lot more than just learning more words.
Now, as we talked about the mindset and the experience, it’s really important to create that mistakes-are-okay atmosphere. Today I was reading Dr. Seuss for my kids, Sam-I-Am, and my daughter got confused with “house” and “mouse”.
So I read it once and then I read it again, and then I said, “So what is house?” And she said “mouse” in Hebrew, so she got confused. And then the next time I asked her, she didn’t answer, she was kinda like thinking. And I knew that this is a point where she can lose her temper really easily. Like, “Oh, I don’t get it. I don’t want you to read it anymore for me”. Because she gets frustrated when she doesn’t get it right or when it becomes too challenging.
So we got a balance between “I don’t want it to get too challenging”, but also get them to think a little bit. But if you’re just starting out and you know that your kid might be upset about not getting it right, so I would recommend helping them and not putting them on the spot for too long.
So maybe you’re asking a question and you want them to answer, don’t wait too long. Help them with the answers. The thing is, they will get it eventually. But also, if they say the wrong answer, then don’t be like, “No, that’s not right”, but be more like, just tell them what the right answer is and not make them feel like they did something wrong. Just like, “good for trying”, but here’s the actual answer. Okay.
It really depends what you’re talking about. Let’s say, I’ll give you a different example. Um, if you’re trying to teach them how to use verb “be”. And you want to say “you are” and “she is”, right. “You are happy”, “you are sad”, “she is happy”, “she is sad”.
And then your kid says “she are happy”, and you are like, “Good! You said “happy” really nicely”. “She is happy”. And you just say the right form without telling them “no, that was wrong”. Maybe you give them a positive comment on something that they did do okay, and then just repeat the right and the correct form and ask them to repeat after you. Even without pointing out that they made a mistake, they’ll get it as they go along with you.
It also depends how old they are and how aware they are of the situation. So of course, a conversation can change whether you’re speaking to a six-year-old, a three-year-old, or an eight-year-old, it really changes. But at the same time, never put them on the spot for not knowing something or for making a mistake. I think is the most valuable thing you can give to your kids as you are teaching them English.
Now, if your kids are already learning with a teacher at school, then I would recommend doing something very different than what they’re already doing in school. Because they’re very focused on reading and writing I would recommend just don’t deal with it.
Get them to speak, get them to experience English in a fun way. Have them repeat after you have them repeat after their favorite shows, but don’t do stuff that they’re already doing or anyway doing in school.
Because first of all, they’ll do it there. Let the teachers do it with them, and you provide something that is a little different. It would be refreshing to them and, of course, more interesting. And they will stick with you rather than being like, “I’m bored, I just want to watch TV”. So ask your kids what they’re learning, ask their teachers, and see how you can do something that is completely different.
Now, if you want to teach them every day or every other day, whether you have time or you don’t have time, it really doesn’t matter. I would recommend keeping it short. Both for you and for your kids. I say, up until 30 minutes a day – that is more than valuable. 30 minutes, 40 minutes tops if you include videos or TV shows that you learn with and from.
But other than that, don’t overdo it. Even if they get excited about it, even if they have fun with it, then you can just make it a little longer, but not too much. Why? Because the next day they’ll be like, “Ah, that was too long. I don’t want to do it again”. It’s harder for them to get into it.
So if you keep it short and sweet, they will be more willing to do it on a regular basis, and so will you. So it won’t be also too demanding and overwhelming for you because you are important too.
Now. When teaching kids, you have to remember that repetition is key. To be honest, when teaching adults, it’s also important. But with kids, that’s the best way for you to actually get them to understand and to experience it because it doesn’t stick that easily.
So if you want to teach them a new word, let’s say you want to teach them the word “apple”. So, you might actually bring them an apple, because when you use physical objects, it’s the best. And then you may say a bunch of things about this apple. “Oh, it’s a red Apple. It’s a big apple. It’s a delicious apple. It’s a small apple. It’s a disgusting apple. It’s a sour apple. It’s a great apple”. Right?
So you’re actually not trying to teach them all those adjectives that you just used, but you want them to understand that this is an apple. By doing all of that, eventually the word “apple” will stick by repetition. Right?
When I teach my girls to ask for something, I talk about “I want”, right? Like if they want something: “I want food, I want water, I want to play”. And I want them to understand what is “I want” means. I’m not expecting them to remember what “to play” means. I’m not expecting them to remember what “food” means at this point.
If I’m trying to teach them the phrase “I want”, I’m asking, maybe I’ll present a bunch of stuff, like an apple, and water, and a sandwich, and a toy. And I would ask them to ask for each and every one of them.
Now, when they say “I want apple”, let’s say they don’t know how to use “an”, and I don’t care about it so much right now, I’ll repeat the right form. But when they ask it, I’m totally fine with them just saying, “I want apple”, I want water, I want sandwich, I want toy” or “I want to play”. Right?
So, as I said, they will probably forget how to say each and every item here, but they will remember how to say “I want”. And I’ll keep coming back to it.
Here’s another thing about teaching your kids English. You have that 20 minutes, 30 minutes a day that you intentionally learning and teaching them. But what I do is I just incorporate English on a regular basis at home.
So, for example, if we’re sitting down for a meal, and yesterday we talked about how to say “water”, then when they ask for water, I would, maybe they would say “Efshar mayim?” in Hebrew – “Can I have some water?” And as a response, I would say, “You want water?” Right? So I respond to them out of context, right? They’re not learning, but we are having dinner. And yesterday we talked about how to ask for water, and I would respond to them with something that they already know.
So I start to incorporate that without asking them to do anything in return. Usually they’re very excited to repeat it cause they remember it. And that’s how I make it stick for them. And that’s how they remember it, if I keep coming back to it and it’s not just those 20 minutes or 30 minutes a day. Of course, I don’t overdo it and I don’t force them to participate if it’s not like this intentional lesson.
And in general, I would just like maybe say a sentence and then instead of one word in Hebrew, I will flip it and use the English word. And because of the context, they’ll understand. Sometimes they would ask me what do I want. Sometimes they would be like, “Mom, I don’t want to speak English!” cause that happens too.
And sometimes they would just carry on as if I just said it in Hebrew, right? So I try to incorporate it and insert words here and there. Or respond to them with a small phrases or short phrases in English. And as I said, I’m not expecting them to remember it, but I want them to be surrounded with English, to hear the sounds, and also remember those short phrases that I keep repeating during the lesson, but also during the day.
Now, one of the things that I love, love, love doing and I think is super effective, is using movement when teaching. So, again, to create that nice fun experience around learning English, you want them to do something that is fun and not like just sitting by the table. And kids, they love to move, they love to play.
So I would just like stand up with them and then practice jumping. So I would say “jump” and jump with them. So they associate the word with the physical activity. “Sit, walk, run, skip, turnaround”, right? Like physical activities, again, when they associate it, they have to repeat it.
So they repeat it and they do it with me. And then I start messing around with them and I have them like jump and sit at the same time and skip and turn around simultaneously. So it’s, uh, it’s funny, it’s fun for me as well. Like I get to move with them, but also they remember it. And then next time I would just say it without doing it, and I expect them to remember it because their body remembers it.
The last thing I want to talk about is do not project your own fears and limiting beliefs onto your kids. So even if they struggle, even if something is hard, try to avoid saying stuff like “English is hard”, “I don’t know English but you will”, right? Like when you talk about your difficulties and your challenges.
Because if you share it with them in a way that is limiting, it will become their limiting belief as well. They will grow up thinking and knowing that English is tough and it’s not easy to communicate in English, and there is a lot of fear around English.
So before you go on to teaching them, I want you to think real deep about the words that you use, the vocabulary that you use, how open your voice is, how open your body is when you are speaking in English and teaching English and encouraging them to speak in English.
Because if you decide to teach your kids English, it has to come from a place of love, and openness, and no judgment, and there is no room for fear, only room for improvement and mistakes and acceptance. Because you have to accept yourself. Otherwise, it would be very hard for you to accept the mistakes that your child makes. And it would be hard for them to accept their own mistakes.
And as we said, giving them a head start in English doesn’t mean to teach them more words, doesn’t mean to give them the right grammar rules. No, it means to build up their confidence and their ability to communicate freely, without thinking that there is something wrong about their accent or about their mistakes. That is the most valuable lesson that you can teach your kids.
Okay, that’s it. Now, let me know in the comments below what have you been doing to teach your kids English, if you have. If you haven’t, what has stopped you so far? And not enough time is a good enough answer.
Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to get into that discussion with you. Also, if you liked this video, please click “Like” and share it with your friends and subscribe to my channel, if you haven’t yet.
Also, if you want more information or if you want to get all the practice drills and resources to help you improve your English and pronunciation and your kids as well, come on over to my website and check it out – theaccentsway.com – or click the link here to get access to all of the stuff that I’ve created for you to support you and that you can use to support your kids.
Have a beautiful week and I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.