Do you want to speak more English with your children at home? It might seem like a huge task, maybe even scary too. I live in Japan, with my two children, and we’ve created an English speaking home here. Here are 6 tips to use more English at home.
Make it fun
Whatever age your children are, it’s so much easier to get your kids speaking English if it’s fun. That can be with games, videos or books. You don’t need lots of stuff to make an English-speaking home. A few well-chosen resources, that you find fun and interesting, can be a great start. You can play games your children love, and just add a few English words and phrases in. When you eat food, mention the English names, or make a fun quiz to see who can say as many English words as possible. Always count in English or say ‘Good morning’ every day in English. I believe where mama goes the children will follow. So start, and show the children what you’re doing.
Make it natural.
English at home doesn’t have to be grammar books and flashcards. Learn and use natural phrases with your children. For example; when someone sneezes in English we say ‘bless you.’ Now you can use that phrase with your kids. When it’s time to brush their teeth or get ready for bed, tell them in English – ‘Time to brush your teeth, so they’re all shiny and clean’ or ‘bedtime, let’s go to bed now, sleepy-head!’ You might find it’s a good idea to use English at the dinner table for example, or at bathtime. But be careful because if you’re just using English in only one particular place or time, you will always be using the same vocabulary and phrases. Try different places and times for some variety.
Connect with others.
Let your children know that English isn’t just something that Mother has invented, nor is it just a school subject. Try to connect with others in your area so you can speak English in real life! Find out if there are any international groups in your area that host family meet-ups where you can interact in English. If you’re in Japan I recommend Global Mom to Mom for this. Or online find lessons with teachers from around the globe and explore the topics that your kids are interested in. If you need more English practice yourself, and a chance to speak to other mums around the world, come and join in in Mums’ English Circle, it’s my online conversation club for mothers around the world.
Don’t give up.
Some days, or weeks, it might seem like you haven’t spoken English with your children at home at all. It happens. Being a parent is hard! Cooking the meals, getting kids to school, helping with homework, emotions and problems, as well as doing your own job, is a lot of work. So if you feel you’re failing at English at home – remember even a little bit counts, and today is the best day to start! So you can go now and ask your kids a question – How are you? What are you doing? Pick up a book or put on English-language music. You can start (again) now.
Don’t worry about mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. Yes, even native speakers! The other day my daughter asked me to write a sign saying ‘no loud voices allowed.’ and I wrote ‘no laud voices aloud.’ ergh! If you make a mistake, own up! Say you made a mistake and give the correct information if you know. It’s ok, and it also is a great thing for your children to see that even adults make mistakes, but we can fix them. By the way, it’s ok to mix languages up. If you don’t know the word in English say it in your language. For example at meal times, there’s no set phrase in English to start a meal so we use the Japanese ‘ittadakimasu.’ When you do learn a word, it’s a great way to start a conversation – tell your children: ‘I learnt a new word today…’
Don’t worry about your accent.
Your children won’t pick up your accent. This is because accents are created by the whole environment around them not just parents. If you grew up in a different place than your parent’s hometowns you might have noticed this. You speak more like your schoolmates than your parents. What is important is to expose your children to lots of different accents so they are used to speaking to people from around the world, and can communicate clearly. My English Pronunciation for Mothers online video course will help you learn the essential elements of pronunciation for clear communication in today’s world, even if you’re not a native speaker.
How do you feel about creating an English-speaking home? Can you do it? Let me know in the comments below
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