Just like necessity is the mother of invention, it is also the mother of learning. Language acquisition comes from the need to express, understand others and be understood by them. It comes from exposure to the language and attempts to use this knowledge in a positive environment. English is a second or even a third language in many Indian households and hence the urge to communicate is not felt as much as that of a first language. The end result: learning suffers.
English is taught in parts, with grammar, vocabulary and spoken language happening in parallel. The student is given parts of a whole that they are left to connect and these connections of right usage, right tenses and right forms come only with usage, listening and practice.
A few steps that we suggest parents to teach and support learning are
- Communication: Force your child to communicate in English. Make it a fun activity and for a small duration of time. Reply to questions that your child asks in any language in English and speak to the others at home in English as well.
- Exposure: Read stories, sing songs and watch programs in English. Listening to the right usage of the words and their context is encouraging.
- Positive Reinforcement: ‘No’ is negative reinforcement. Try to help your child to learn with positive reinforcement instead. If your child says “Mumma, cow!”, answering with “You’re right! That is a cow, what colour is it?” is a way to encourage learning the right grammar and showing an interest is motivation for more conversation and more learning.
- Encourage look-up skills: Help your child understand words that they find hard to comprehend. In good time, when their skills of reading are developed, help them to look up words in a dictionary or thesaurus rather than giving them the meaning directly. This will equip them with a good source of knowledge, encourage them to learn on their own and also improve their reading and comprehension skills.
Small but conscious effort in the beginning will transform into a wonderful learning habit for your child. Remember, it is their childhood to live, their game to play and their achievement.