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Some children find it hard to speak English. Some are shy. Some don’t want to make mistakes. You can help your child feel more confident by creating a positive and encouraging atmosphere at home.
Let them know that making mistakes is a normal and important part of learning a language. Everyone makes mistakes at times – it’s how we learn. But don’t pressure them or show disappointment if your child is not ready to speak yet.
Here are some tips to develop your child’s confidence:
Above all, don’t make a big thing out of your child’s silence. Help, encourage and always be positive. Talk about it and reassure them: you are there to help them become more confident.
Encourage funny, light-hearted and unpredictable answers. For example, 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.
Many children are more motivated to learn English if they like English-speaking music, films, cartoons or books. Your child might have a toy version of a favourite English-speaking cartoon character. Tell your child that this toy only understands English. Have a conversation with the toy yourself to encourage your child to do the same in private.
Many young children learn language more easily when the learning is subtly combined with creative activities. Think about what your child likes doing for fun and try doing these activities in English, such as singing, playing games, reading books aloud, role-playing.
If you want to correct your child, don’t correct every mistake, and never interrupt your 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’.