Learning a language is like learning to salsa dance. It is so much easier when you start young. It does not mean you can’t start late but learning a language or dancing or playing golf becomes so much easier when you build that muscle memory from a younger age. And the great news is more and more parents are starting to understand this and are encouraging their children to start learning a second or even third language when they are young. As a English language training program with a global presence, we have certainly started to see a huge increase in interest for our “English for kids” and “English for families” programs. In fact, in the last few months, we have probably received more requests to expand our English Classes For Kids than we have for adult programs.
So why are we strong advocates of teaching kids English when they are young? Firstly, think of how you learned your native (first) language? Did you learn all the grammar rules before you started speaking or did you just speak? Did someone teach you how to pronounce different sounds or did you just “get it” based on what you hear? Did you take any accent training when you were learning your first language?
You did not!
The same thing is true when you start exposing your child to the English language at a very young age. At Spoken English Practice, we work non-native English speaking children between ages 3 and 17 and we have found tremendous success on how quickly they have absorbed the English language. In fact some of these children who have worked with our Native English speaking partners have started speaking English better than their “first” language!
So what do we do different in our English classes for kids than what we do in our adults or business English courses? Our approach, fundamentally, does not change. We focus on conversational English and on getting kids to talk about various subjects – whether it is cartoons, school, sports, siblings or learning to how to ride a bike. We keep the conversations very “real” by keeping interruptions at a minimum. One difference between the English classes for kids and adult English classes is that in the kids program, we will use a lot more visual materiel like pictures or videos to get kids to start talking.
Overall, what we try to re-create is an environment similar to what your kids would experience if they went to day care, pre-school or middle school in an English speaking country. Obviously, we will not be able to immerse them in English 24/7 but the what we have found is that continuous and high intensity weekly English lessons over Skype definitely have a strong impact in helping non native children master English at a young age.
Also, we have now started a new family English program where the whole family (up to 5 members) can practice English with a native English speaker. This is a great program specially if your kids are very young (below the age of 6) but you want them to get acclimatized to native English accents from the start. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more about how to join this program.