Some children find it hard to speak English – some because they are shy, some because they don’t want (or don’t like) to make mistakes. As a parent, you can help your child build up the confidence they need to express themselves. Here are a few tips:
Never show disappointment if your child refuses to say new words – being the centre of attention can be scary.
To help your child to say English words or sentences without worrying, ask them to say the words in different ways: with a happy face, with a sad face, singing opera, acting sleepy… use your imagination and have fun. If the stress is not on speaking but on making funny faces, children are often happy to repeat the language over and over again.
If you want to correct your child, don’t correct every mistake, and never interrupt a child to correct. Wait until they finish speaking, then say the word or the sentence correctly and encourage them to repeat. Don’t say ‘Not like that’ or ‘It’s wrong’. Instead choose ‘Listen…’ or ‘Let’s try again’. Making mistakes is an important part of learning a language.
Try to relate English speaking skills to the child’s ‘real world’: cartoon characters that speak English, common words in your mother tongue that were imported from English, sports, food, etc.
Above all, don’t make a big thing out of your child’s silence. Help, encourage and always be positive. Talk about it if necessary and reassure them: you are there to help them become more confident.