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Every day parents ask me how they could organize an English class at home, what goals to pursue or even what is the basis for not missing anything important. I'm going to give you some ideas so that you can set up your masterclass in the very living room of your home and tea become the best English teacher for your children. Ready, steady… go!
The fundamental guideline, the instrument that should never be lacking in the teaching of a language or any other subject, is fun. And, starting from that base, we are going to see point by point how to organize an English class for children in your living room.
The first thing is to know what I want to teach. The concepts that I need my little one to learn or practice. For this, it is very important to take into account the age of the participants who attend the activity. Your level of maturity and understanding are essential. We cannot pursue very ambitious goals if we are also facing your first project at home. That is why I always recommend that you start from the base that they know and then expand their knowledge, make them participate more or even let them create and build their own class.
The best thing is that you start with short sessions, specific activities in which our little geniuses focus all their attention. The well-known 'Spanglish' is very important in this initial phase, since their interest is to participate (very different from ours, which is that they improve their level of English or that they begin to stop seeing it as a subject). In addition, that margin allows us mothers and fathers who perhaps do not have very high levels when dealing with the language, to be able to resort to cards, mobile applications that pronounce specific words, books or stories that are written in both languages ...
Here it is very important to analyze our sons and daughters and see what would hook them to our class. We must always bear in mind that it is through play that they will be able to learn in a more natural and relaxed way. They will normalize what they are doing and the vocabulary or expressions they learn will internalize them much better.
Board games, experiments, contests while they practice hobbies that they like, memory games, program a Master Chef, discover a treasure and, also, we can even organize a concert to leave us amazed while they play their favorite instrument and we interview them.
It is very important that we have the vocabulary on the subject prepared first. Yes, we have to review the concepts first. We must avoid, as far as possible, not having the answer to the question, 'How do you say this in English?', Although if that were the case, you can naturally do a search with them and show them that learning is something for children and adults.
Finally, it is very motivating when we express how happy we are because they have helped us. They are very proud to see that we also learn from them and that their learning something is really useful and not just a study and an exam.
This is perhaps the most difficult point. There are children who immediately sign up for a bombing and, on the other hand, others who are already tired or who see English as a task and saying 'let's play in English' may seem more like a punishment than a benefit. I would suggest that you present it as 'Let's spend some time together doing what you like so much'.
What will happen then? That we must put into practice what is prepared and mix both languages. Our learners should start with a stimulating part of listening. The fact that we 'make a mistake' or 'go blank' will help them to want to participate, since they will feel an important part of the activity (without them we could not have continued).
An informal setting will also help. The living room, the bedroom or a park ... We don't want them to think they are in class. They must feel that they are creating and take advantage of even their curiosity to take them to our field where, finally (or even in time), we will be in an environment in English, playing comfortably and enjoying time with them.
Learning means acquiring knowledge, skills, values and attitudes through study, teaching or experience. The fundamental process in learning is imitation, that is, the repetition of an observed process and implies time, space, skills and some other resources.
Pedagogically, learning is related to the discovery of contents that, once reorganized, are adapted to a cognition system. The learning, receptive and meaningful, will make the child understand and link to the knowledge he wanted to acquire. In short, there are many types of learning: implicit, explicit, associative, non-associative, cooperative / collaborative, meaningful, emotional, observational, experiential, discovery, rote, and receptive ...
Depending on the age of the children and their own personality, they will have a greater or lesser capacity to assimilate or understandTherefore, using different methodologies will help us bring them closer to knowledge in the way that their abilities allow it at the time they are, that is, we cannot put a baby to read.
The teacher (in this case, father or mother or better both) must learn to listen to and interpret their students (children) with respect, closeness and positive reinforcement. Dads and moms must forget that they are their children's teachers and only more advanced students, with more experience and more knowledge, but who continue to learn and that of course, they can be wrong.
Here there are no errors but ideas that must be redirected, but that already have part of the truth. Everyone must speak the same language. If they say a wrong word to us, we can repeat it well, but nodding so that our son or daughter perceives that we have understood them and they alone, by imitation, will end up doing it well.
My daughter Emma came home one day with a black poster board and glow-in-the-dark stars. As she is very uncommunicative ('What have you done at school today Emma?' - 'Nothing'), we asked her teacher and she told us that they were studying the constellations. Based on what he told you before, the first thing was to know what his father wanted to teach him: What is a constellation? How big is the Universe? What are planets?
Next step: How long will I be able to keep her entertained with the same activity? At that time I was 3 years old and although I can say that she is very calm, she either gets hooked on the class or directly starts doing something else, so my partner planned half an hour of activity. Then he was shocked!
What activity can help me? Emma loves to build. Everything that is painting with tempera (smearing but good), cutting, shaping… it fascinates him! So it must have been a manual job. My husband cut out several different sized circles (about twenty) and left them blank. Experimenting is also essential for Emma, she loves to discover and invent!
How did you present the activity? What can help me hook them? Well this is the best part. A three-year-old girl who sees a planet in an image and knows what it is because she has 'studied' it, but who asks her where there is more and points to the book instead of the sky, she has not yet come to understand what that they are beginning to teach him in his school.
They are very small and everything takes a little longer when it comes to complex concepts. So his father considered how to make him see that in the sky there are many, but many other things besides airplanes, the sun and the moon. It started from the knowledge and experience base of our daughter: The aliens. Emma really likes a movie starring aliens, so her dad made her a spaceship out of cardboard boxes.
At that time I promise you that we could have taught him the Pythagorean Theorem if he had learned it, he would have learned anything! And what was found inside? A lot of circles (some slightly glued to make it start, others hanging from the "ceiling of the ship", others on the floor ...) and a note that when read it said in English 'I don't know where my house is. Could you help me please? ' Emma's response was: 'Mom, you have to help us get the alien home because he is English.'
We colored the planets, we made the rings of Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune with fluorescent paint (because Dad explained to us that those planets are gas giants with rings and she wanted it that way). In order to see which planet our friend was from, we had to place them all in order at the distance from the Sun, which map, and place the stars that fill the rest of the Universe, in addition to the (milky at the moment) pathways that serve us to orient us like the constellations. Yes, he came to understand that a constellation was a group of stars grouped, apparently, in the form of a figure.
But how did our friend know to come home? Because in his spaceship the constellation that was next to his school was drawn, and thus Emma was able to leave him a map of how to get home. The surprise for us was that half an hour was not enough, she needed more! He wanted to know how he could fly the ship, what his alien friend was like physically, if they ate popcorn on his planet ...
We took advantage of all her curiosity to be able to put vocabulary, ready-made expressions, simple orders and some more complex ones on the table, phrasal verbs, use indirect and passive styles ... A few days later we even had to take her to the Madrid Planetarium where she finished understanding that the Universe It's infinite.
Emma will only remember that she was playing with her parents, teaching her dad English, working cooperatively, letting her version of events count too (apparently the spaceship went in through the kitchen extractor because it sounds like a motor, ha, ha ha), contextualizing, learning through touch and emotions, moving around the house looking for materials to work with, letting her build her reality, but guiding her towards knowledge. Simply natural and extremely productive!
I would like to end by saying that if we all felt like Edison when the lightbulb was turned on, learning would never be an obligation, no matter what subject it was. As Einstein said 'the mind that opens itself to a new idea will never return to its original size'.
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