English for Your Adopted Child: How to Make Learning Faster and More Fun
Adopting a child from a foreign country is an inspiring time for your family, but no matter what age the child you welcome into your home is, you're likely going to be faced with the challenge of teaching them English. Don't fret, though, there are many creative and fun ways to accomplish this awesome goal:
Use Food as a Learning Tool Although it may sound funny, you can use food as an effective learning tool with your young adopted child. For example, rather than simply placing a side of fries on their plate, spell "E", "F" and "I" with the sliced and diced potatoes instead. Say the letters, and get excited about it. You'll probably find that your child starts doing the same. Use ketchup to write "Hi", or spell out your child's name. In no time, they'll be bursting with enthusiasm for learning and dinner.
Turn Music into Tutor Background music is absorbed by the brain, even if it isn't fully understood. Play intelligible music constantly, and choose songs that feature simple, repeated phrases. For example, old Beatles songs have easy to understand words and often repeated choruses. As a bonus, this process will also help your child develop a love of music.
Let People You Meet Help Whenever you go out, say to a restaurant or farmer's market, introduce your child to staff and specifically mention the ongoing challenge of learning English. Nearly everyone you encounter will happily assist by speaking clearly and trying to engage your child in the spoken word.
Try American Board Games Many favorite board games have words like "stop", "go", "finish" and more to help your child navigate simple phrases. The fact that the family gathers around the board will add fun and incentive to the learning process as well.
Read, Read, Read! No matter what age or skill level your child is at, they will most certainly benefit from hearing you read. Read newspapers, books, gossip magazines, Internet articles, bills, letters -- anything you have your hands on. Of course, sitting down to read magical stories will also be of great assistance to your child learning the language, but reading out loud, whatever you happen to be doing, will also help and save you valuable time.
Have Family Spelling Bees Making a big deal out of spelling means generating enthusiasm for learning, so have everyone in the family participate in spelling bees. Ask them to stand in front of everyone else and be formal, by having them repeat the words before and after spelling them. If your adopted child is shy and doesn't want to participate right away, that's okay. Simply let them sit in the background and observe. Even as an observer, your adopted child will be learning, growing and developing the brain.
Give Your Child Flashcards Cards with a word on one side and picture on the other are invaluable tools for learning basic word. They're also quite beneficial because your child can use them independently, after you've demonstrated their proper function.
Write Cards, Letters and Poems Together Rather than buying cards for holidays, birthdays and other special occasions, work together with your child to make them. Phrases, words and sentiments will be viewed in action, helping the learning process along. A bonus is that all your friends and relatives will enjoy the special treat of handmade greeting cards.
Play Educational Video Games Because kids love video games so much, having to learn certain words in order to play is a great incentive for learning. Of course, you want to carefully screen games for appropriateness, but if you keep the focus on education, you should not encounter issues.
Immerse Your Child in the American Culture Going to movies, plays, museums and even the library will expose your child to both the language and culture, even if they hardly know any English yet. Expressions like joy, sorrow and laughter are universal, so your child will always have something to relate to in the context of the encounters. Because it's fun, they'll want to learn faster, in order to be able to participate and to truly understand the experiences that await.
Fortunately for you and your adopted child, English is one of the easier languages to learn; however, it doesn't usually make a lot of sense to foreigners. With all the rules, exceptions to the rules and odd structure, sometimes even forming simple sentences can take time. With due diligence, patience, fun, and creative parenting, your adopted child will pick up the language in no time at all - and have a great time bonding with you too.
Anabela Barros is a professional who runs nacel London, a popular language immersion program offering students opportunities to live abroad and learn English as a second language. To learn more about these exciting programs, visit nacelesl.co.uk/.