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Encouraging your Kindergartener to Converse in English

Learning to converse in English is beneficial but oftentimes frustrating for kindergarteners since they may not be able to communicate their thoughts effectively. With proper guidance and encouragement at home, kindergarteners can develop their conversation skills and become more fluent speakers of English. This will ensure success in their primary school interviews and speaking exams like Trinity GESE.

To be able to converse in English, children need two main ingredients – vocabulary and common sentence patterns. Here are some ways to encourage your kindergartener to pick these up:

Use exciting stimuli like nursery rhymes and cartoons

One of the best ways to encourage your child to pick up vocabulary and sentence patterns is through English songs and cartoons. They can listen to and repeat nursery rhymes like Incy Wincy Spider and watch cartoons like Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. If you are in the car, you can tune into an English radio station. Even if children are not actively listening to nursery rhymes or watching cartoons, just having them on in the background helps young learners absorb common vocabulary and sentence patterns.

Encourage reading, storytelling, and role-playing

Children can pick up lots of vocabulary and sentence patterns through storybooks. They can also develop their understanding of word- and sentence-stresses by reading different characters, e.g. a booming monster or a squeaky, cowardly mouse. In addition, you can role-play characters with your child and develop your own variations on the dialogue. While role-playing, you can ask each other questions to practise question and answer sentence structures.

Do some fun activities in English

Dedicate a period of time each week or every day during which you and your child enjoy crafting, colouring, building with Lego, etc while conversing in English. During these activities, you should ask your child plenty of open-ended questions and provide them with the necessary vocabulary and sentence patterns to answer them if needed.

Don’t focus on the mistakes too much

It might discourage children to keep conversing in English if we focus too much on their mistakes and try to correct them every time they say something. You should let your child express himself/herself freely most of the time. However, when the mistakes have become repetitive and it is time for you to correct them, make sure that you do not interrupt them while they are speaking, or say “That’s wrong” when they have finished. Instead, try to change your language to a more encouraging one, by saying “Let’s try again this way” and getting your child to repeat after you. There are lots more tips on correcting mistakes in last week’s article in this Conversation Series.