When should a child start English lessons?
One of the most common questions that parents are asking teachers and other parents, concerns the dilemma of the English language; when should a child start English lessons –ιδιαίτερα μαθήματα? In many countries, English is a basic subject in schools and it is mostly introduced when children are 6 years and even older.
But having taught English for many years, it is time to look into the details of the “right age to start English lessons”. Even though every child is different, there are some basic steps that parents need to follow in order to get started with a second language. And the first one of course is the support of the school and teachers!
Let’s get into the components of starting English lessons to a kid and helping them absorb all the needed knowledge to master their second language!
When should we introduce children to English?
When we are talking about introduction to a language we by no means refer to courses and tutoring. Introduction is all about getting to know the differences, alphabet and slowly getting to speak out the first words by referring to images and songs.
This can happen when the child is in kindergarten, with games, pictures, theater and music (songs). The thematic game is also very important, e.g. when autumn begins we can talk to the child about what autumn is like and anything that marks the beginning of the school year.
We are trying to turn children’s images into words, sentences and thematic vocabulary. At this age, learning is experiential and fun for both the young student and the teacher! It might sound simple and maybe useless, but this is a basic and important step so that children will love and not despise the language later on.
Is it okay to start with more languages at once?
The answer to this is definitely a no. Apart from bilingual children who are learning to speak and communicate in two languages simultaneously, introducing two languages to a child will probably confuse them. It will require a lot of effort and the child will end up learning neither language.
It would be better not to start a second language to the child -at the same time as English- because it can create performance anxiety. First we need to acquire solid foundations in their first language and then we can talk about starting a second one, again in an experiential way.
How can parents help in their children’s English language acquisition?
Language learning is enhanced by the application of games in the lesson but also by movies that it is good for the child to already know. In the beginning it is good to enter subtitles so that the child gradually gains confidence in English. Music at home is also very important because it is associated with emotion.
Therefore, whether listening to a song or doing karaoke, the child learns by having fun and fun learning! Role-playing is also amazing as the child learns the language through the theater, the lesson or the home session acquires meaning and the self-confidence of the child increases!
It is important to not rush your children when you are at home. If they seem uninterested in English-related games and activities let them take a break as you will not gain anything from pressuring them. Let them take their time and stick to movies and songs for a short period of time.
Why the English lessons at school are not as effective?
Responsible for the fact that the child usually does not learn English at a sufficient level in school, are the wrong choices of books, the large number of students per class as well as the poor management of time and class. Also, within a classroom, the level of the students differs and it is very difficult for the teacher to coordinate a correct lesson plan.
With private lessons the relationship that is built is of utmost importance because you have the opportunity to “discover” the child with a universal approach and to enhance both his learning and emotional intelligence. It is easier to focus on one child and move on according to their needs rather than trying to create a lesson plan to cover every level of English in the classroom.
Is it true that some children are born with an innate talent in foreign languages?
It is true that some children have an innate talent for learning a foreign language. However, this does not say much as no matter how talented a child is, the maximum result of his performance cannot be achieved without motivation and proper study. Both our experience in tutors.gr and the results of our examinations show that students who do not have the “inherited gift” but who worked and collaborated with their teacher (s) managed to achieve the maximum.
What are the characteristics of an effective teacher?
Tolerance, patience, appetite, love, creation and humor! To be a child in heart and able to adapt to the age and personality of the children in front of him, whether the latter are five or one hundred and five years old! Adaptability is key when someone is in the teaching industry!
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