Have there been moments when you notice your child is about to say something and, in the end, decides against it because she feels a bit hesitant to express herself. You may even have noticed highly talkative children grow silent at a party where many other children are conversing and playing.
Very often, the reason for ‘shyness’ is lack of confidence emanating from poor language skills. Children as well as adults often get nervous, stutter, and even go blank when someone expects them to answer in English. This is normal, especially when you are not a native English speaker.
The fear of not finding the right words, being misunderstood or making grammatical mistakes are the three most common reasons why people are afraid to speak English. This invariably impacts confidence and the ability to speak up in social or professional situations.
Also Read: How to help your children speak for themselves!
English has become a part of daily life. The true value of this language is that it facilitates communication irrespective of background, qualification or context. It is most often the language of education, trade and social interaction.
One of the main benefits of learning language at an early age is that one learns faster. Kids have more time to learn, fewer inhibitions, and a brain designed for learning new things.
Here are a few ways you can help your child start young and strengthen language skills without judgement or fear of sounding silly.
The key to mastering any new skill is ‘practice’. The more children practice using the language, the less nervous they will feel when speaking publicly. Encourage children to speak in full sentences and give detailed responses instead of putting together a few of words to convey the information. For example, instead of saying “picnic tomorrow”, encourage your child to say, “Tomorrow our class will go for a picnic to the zoo.”
Puzzles are a great way to improve concentration power, strengthen vocabulary, and exercise your brain. Puzzles encourage children to interact and communicate through individual play. Thus, allowing free usage of English without fear of judgement or ridicule. Games provide language practice in the various skills – speaking, writing, listening, and reading.
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Encourage children to slow down their speech. Trying to talk faster than they can think of the words can make them feel flustered and affect their ability to form sentences. Children should be taught to slow down and give themselves an opportunity to think before speaking.
Read out loud
In order to help your child sound more confident, encourage her to read more often. Reading teaches children to “think” in English. This helps them write better and think faster in English. Also, it is good practice to read loudly enough that anyone in the same room can easily hear.
Encourage watching News or Shows in English
Children often watch content on TV or YouTube. Encourage children to watch a short news telecast in English – they will not only learn about a new event but also understand the language. You can use this as a discussion point. Also, instead of watching TV shows or Movies in the native language, it is recommended to switch to English versions. Encourage children to ask you words or phrases they do not understand.
Moreover, children who learn a second language grow up to be expert problem-solvers and creative thinkers. Their brains go through a constant workout from a young age as they try to sort out which language to speak and when.
Remember, learning English will allow you to access over 2 bn people in the world who use this language as an unofficial medium for international communication and trade!
“Language is not a genetic gift; it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language.”
– Frank Smith.