How to teach English to children from their earliest years
The use of the mother tongue is one of the basic skills we learn during our early years. The brain processes related to language are most active during our childhood, but over time they attenuate and make it more difficult to assimilate new linguistic structures. Knowing how to teach English to children allows us to take advantage of all their abilities and to establish the structures of two or more languages on a permanent basis. Studying in a british school , where all subjects are taught in English and where all primary teachers are native speakers, offers the possibility of effective language immersion for children from an early age.
At what age can a child start learning languages?
Learning a language is not something innate, we all follow the same process which, during the first 4-5 years, allows us to assimilate a large part of the language that we will use for the rest of our lives. If during this stage we learn a second, even a third language, the grammatical structures and vocabulary can be assimilated at the same level at which we learn our mother tongue.
Therefore, the recommendation is to start learning languages at the same pace at which we assimilate our mother tongue.
How to teach English to children from nursery school onwards
Using certain language learning activities can help us to reinforce vocabulary, to establish syntax or to improve oral expression, but when we analyse how to teach English to children, there is only one effective method: linguistic immersion.
Language immersion is based on exposing a student to continuous practice of a language. Traditional educational programmes include learning English as a subject, but it is language immersion that allows for a permanent foundation of knowledge.
A language immersion experience can be circumstantial, as in the case of summer experiences in other countries, or it can be permanent. In the first case, immersion helps to reinforce confidence in aspects such as comprehension and oral expression, in addition, this type of activity allows you to expand your vocabulary.
Permanent language immersion will be an advantage, especially during the first academic years. A bilingual experience such as the one offered by International School Andalucía provides an opportunity for students to listen, speak and think in English throughout the school day.
The direct consequence is that English becomes a vehicular language, which they learn to use fluently and confidently. The possibility of learning English at the same pace as learning one’s mother tongue, in this case Spanish, allows a permanent foundation to be laid which can be further developed in the future.
How to teach English to children in the academic environment
Language is a social skill, which allows us to communicate effectively with other people. In order to learn it, it is also important to have an environment that favours this training, allowing the continuous practice of all aspects of the language.
The school and, in general, any educational institution, is a suitable place for language learning, precisely because it offers a social environment in which the student can practise listening, comprehension, speaking, etc. However, for learning to be successful, these processes need to be ongoing.
The syllabus establishes a series of specific hours for learning English, but this method only allows the memorisation of certain grammatical structures that are rarely put into practice. Through a bilingual programme such as the one at our school, students not only learn English in the classroom, but also have an environment that allows them to communicate continuously in English.
The results of this learning method are exceptional, the students do not only learn a language, they also develop complete communication skills, which are also useful for learning other languages.
At-home reinforcement activities for language learning
Language learning at school can be reinforced through activities at home. Everything a child learns at school should be reviewed at home, and in the case of languages, it is recommended that there are reinforcement activities that allow the use of English to be activated beyond the classroom.
These are some of the activities that can be carried out at home to improve language learning.
Reading in English
All children have books at home adapted to their age. Books in English will encourage their ability to understand the language, as well as being an excellent way to expand their vocabulary and discover other worlds through reading.
In this case it is very important that the book is adapted to their age, as the book itself follows the level of the pupil and therefore provides reinforcement.
Board games in English
Board games are also a great reinforcement for learning English. There are many board games that are geared towards active language use, and which allow new language skills to be developed. In any case, most board games can be adapted so that participants can communicate in English.
Music in English
Music is the perfect way to improve listening skills without even realising it. Music in English allows a child to enjoy a playful activity while learning almost without realising it.
Through games, we can get them to understand the lyrics of their favourite songs. In addition, films and series in English are also a basic aid to improve their perception of the language.
Apps have been a revolution for learning, through Apps we can reinforce certain aspects of the language, develop specific parts of vocabulary, improve speaking and much more.
Apps allow them to learn while they play, with challenges that are adapted to their level.
International School Andalucía, the perfect environment in which to learn English
Our british school is the perfect experience for learning English from the first academic years. Our school has the environment that any student needs to develop their ability and assimilate a language that will be crucial for their future.