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There are three key ingredients for successfully teaching children English at home, according to language learning experts at Cambridge. These are creating a dedicated learning space, sticking to a routine and setting realistic targets.
The tips were highlighted by language assessment experts George Heritage and Sarah Ellis from Cambridge Assessment English – at a time when more parents around the world are home-schooling as a result of Covid-19. Sarah and George presented their thinking at the Cambridge Live Experience 2020, a three-day event held to help English language teachers adapt to the changing education landscape as a result of Covid-19.
They explained that parents supporting learning English at home face a variety of challenges associated with communication, sharing workspaces and technology. Their tips included creating a dedicated learning space at home, no matter how small, to help motivate children, along with highlighting the importance of creating simple routines and setting realistic goals in line with recognised standards.
George Heritage explained ‘The challenges of home-schooling are varied and unpredictable and this year parents around the world have had to adapt really quickly.’ Sarah continued: ‘Whether it’s having to learn new technology or share a workspace, we’ve seen some excellent examples of parents rising above the challenges and showing great adaptability when helping their children with English at home. There can also be difficult communication challenges when you consider the differences in the level of English among non-native parents. We find that the three ingredients to success are: engagement with English little and often, doing so in a familiar setting or environment, and not pushing too hard. It’s also really important that children have fun as this helps to increase their confidence. Now that children in some parts of the world are returning to school in some capacity, this is creating new challenges to overcome. We’re full of admiration for the way parents and teachers have ensured education has continued during this difficult time.’
Sarah and George also covered the importance of teaching vocabulary around the house and how parents can make this a fun experience using a variety of free visual resources, ranging from the more traditional flashcards and posters to engaging online activities.
The Cambridge Live Experience was organised by Cambridge Assessment English and Cambridge University Press English Language Teaching. It included a packed programme of talks on a range of themes including advice on transitioning back to the physical classroom, online learning, socially distanced teaching, understanding learners’ levels and providing emotional support. The event proved popular with registrations of 50,000 teachers from 162 countries around the world. It generated 105,000 live views of the sessions during the event and 370,000 views after the event.