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I want to teach my 4 1/2 year old son english..
Thread poster: Dipalimatkar
Jul 10, 2010

We are indians and recently immigrated to Australia. My son had attended two years in school in India but he was mostly speaking native languages in the school. he can speak basic english sentences in present tense.

He will be starting his school in Australia from january 2011.Yesterday I took him to one of the preschools here but he is not able to understand the english spoken here .As Australian teachers as well as kids speaks english very fast and fluently.

I want to teach him to speak english fluently.What should I do for this.

We both (myself and my husband) try to speak in english with him, But our spoken english is very clear and he understands it very well.He watch english cartoons and understands it. what should I do to increase his vocabulary?

Can he be able to speak english fluently??


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Małgorzata Kubata
Poland
Local time: 23:02
English to Polish
+ ...
English teaching Jul 10, 2010

Hello, I'm sure he will be able to speak English fluently. Using English at home in everyday situations (each single talk, command etc) will motivate him. Perhaps there is a good English tutor or foreign languages school for children. And listening English all the time, eg: songs, plays, cartoons.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
At age 4 1/2 Jul 10, 2010

Not to worry. At age 4 1/2 a kid can learn any language fluently in no time. Just give him a little time in school and you'll see.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:02
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree with Henry Jul 10, 2010

Henry Hinds wrote:

Not to worry. At age 4 1/2 a kid can learn any language fluently in no time. Just give him a little time in school and you'll see.


Henry's right. Living in Italy I used to see visiting American academics and their families who came over for a semester or a year, and put their kids in Italian schools (which they said were much better than American schools).

The kids quickly became 100% fluent in idiomatic Italian, with a perfect accent (without studying it) whilst their parents struggled with grammar books and lessons, trying to put even one sentence together, and always with a heavy American accent.

I don't know why this is, but children of a certain age up to about 10 just seem far more open to picking things up.

So don't worry about it!


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Ulrike H
Local time: 23:02
English to German
+ ...
agree that you don't need to worry Jul 10, 2010

Children tend to learn languages quickly if they have to. I wouldn't think it is necessary you speak English to him - especially since that might mean he ends up forgetting your own language, which would be a shame... If you want to help him with the first months of school, i.e. make sure he already understands enough when he starts going there, then just try to get him together with English speaking children regularly (on the playground, neighbour kids, etc.) and maybe get him an English speaking babysitter. He might not yet speak perfect English from that, but I think it would be enough to get along in school, and there he will pick up more very quickly...

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Dimitra Tsakiroglou  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 00:02
Greek to English
+ ...
He'll quickly adapt Jul 10, 2010

Hi,

I grew up in Australia and went to school there.
Now, I live in Greece.
Apart from translations, I also teach English as a second language and according to researches, children under the age of 8 are able to learn a second and third language much faster than older children and adults.

It will help if at least one of the parents speaks to him in English at home, to keep him in touch with the language... it doesn't matter if you don't have the Australian accent, because: (a) what matters most is that he becomes comfortable enough to communicate in English and (b) even though you may not speak with an Australian accent, rest assured that your 4 1/2 year old will quickly figure out the differences and and adapt to his school environment.

I say this also from personal experience, since I was born in Zimbabwe and had a very strong South African accent when we moved to Australia. I started 1st grade elementary in Sydney as soon as we moved there, picked up the differences in the accent and quickly changed it from South African to Australian to fit in.
As I said above, what helped is that my mother would communicate to me in English, while my father would stick to Greek. So, I'd recommend that one parent also keep the native language alive at home as well, while the other speaks strictly in English... if that's possible.. otherwise, don't worry. All will go well.

Also, I'm sure the elementary school will have special classes to assist foreign speaking children. Check it out with the school when the time comes.

I wish you all the best in that beautiful country.

p.s. forgot to say... and when the time comes... reading lots of interesting books for his age will make a tremendous difference.

[Edited at 2010-07-10 19:23 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:02
German to English
+ ...
Young children are quick studies Jul 10, 2010

Others have said the same. My father was stationed in Germany when I was about 3 and 1/2, and my mother's German family spoke only German to me, and read to me in German a lot. Then I was sent to German kindergarten for some time and became fluent, but I don't remember how long it took, obviously. I lived there until about age 8, then we spoke German at home every Sunday while in the US, then we went back to Germany when I was 10 - 14, and spent a year at a German Gymnasium (high school), then visiting the relatives often and having German friends also helped.

I think of all those experiences, probably the early reading was the most influential, as I memorized the text with frequent reading and could then follow along by looking at the words, matching them to the sounds. You might try a children's dictionary with words and pictures, too. It will come easily to him, and you have a bit of time, but you might want to expose him to other children at the playground periodically, or look for a group of mothers with children his age, in addition to some selected kiddie shows on TV. Just talking to him in English will help a lot, too.

I'm confident he'll be just fine.

Best of luck to you!

Edited to add: You might want to make a habit of asking him questions in English now and then, using the books you read, or just simple ones about his activities, age, address, etc. so he will - hopefully - reply in English, too. That way you can test his progress.

[Edited at 2010-07-10 20:21 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
DVDs and logopedist Jul 10, 2010

Dipalimatkar wrote:
I want to teach him to speak English fluently. What should I do for this.


Let him watch lots and lots of Australian children's DVDs over and over and over. And over. And get him a speech therapist (if you can afford it).


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:02
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
No speech therapy needed - instead, open minded teachers Jul 11, 2010

Samuel wrote:
And get him a speech therapist (if you can afford it).


I respectfully disagree. Speech therapy is for people (children) who are unable to formulate sounds correctly by the age it is typically expected. The reason could be some sort of developmental delay, problem with the actual organs involved in speaking, learning disability, brain trauma such as stroke or other problems. Speech therapists are trained to deal with these kind of issues, not to teach a second language to a normally developing child.

I agree with those saying there is no need to worry too much about your son learning English - he will pick it up very fast.

I would suggest one thing though that nobody mentioned so far: when you select the preschool for him, make sure it is a loving, caring environment, and the teachers have experience, or are open to the idea of having a non-English speaking child in their class. This is very important because if the teacher thinks the child is dumb or disobedient when he does not follow directions, and punishes him for that (directly or indirectly), the child would unjustly suffer. The child may get scared, get lonely and start disliking school. A good teacher would make sure this does not happen, and support the child in his interactions with teachers and other kids.
If that support is there, you don't need to worry.

Katalin


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Lourdes Sanchez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
no problem Jul 11, 2010

I totally agree with Ms. Horvath about choosing an open minded environment for your kids. I would continue speaking my native language at home.

Another thing is if you could find a family with a similar situation that would create a support system for you and your child. My two children did not speak any English until they entered school. My husband and I spoke and read to them in Spanish and we spent our summers in Mexico with frequent visits, they had more friends there than in the US. In our experience in two weeks they were fine. Later we met another family with the same circumstances, when their girls entered kindergarten they only spoke German, once again no problem.

If you are calm, your child will take this as a normal part of his life. It is the adults who get anxious, no need for speech therapists or mindless hours in front of a screen.

[Edited at 2010-07-11 03:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-07-11 03:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-07-11 03:28 GMT]


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:02
English to Polish
+ ...
Correct Jul 11, 2010

Tom in London wrote:
Henry's right. Living in Italy I used to see visiting American academics and their families who came over for a semester or a year, and put their kids in Italian schools (which they said were much better than American schools).
The kids quickly became 100% fluent in idiomatic Italian, with a perfect accent (without studying it) whilst their parents struggled with grammar books and lessons, trying to put even one sentence together, and always with a heavy American accent.
I don't know why this is, but children of a certain age up to about 10 just seem far more open to picking things up.
So don't worry about it!

My own niece is a good example. Her parents are also academics and until she reached the school age (which is 7 in Poland) they used to switch countries / languages almost every year, always putting the kid in a local creche / nursery while sticking to the native language at home. It never took her more than a few weeks to be able to communicate and 3-4 months to become fluent in the local language. They had a far bigger problem with maintaining her acquired languages after another switch. Now that she's adult already, she can speak really fluently only two of the acquired languages (with basic knowledge of the others) plus her native language, which was carefully maintained all the time so that she didn't forget it or get it distorted. It is also an asset, after all.

[Edited at 2010-07-11 09:33 GMT]


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Salvador Scofano and Gry Midttun
Norway
Local time: 23:02
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Enormous levarage Jul 11, 2010

Learning a second language (any language) at young age gives a child an enormous leverage. Children have an incredible capacity of decodification and codification. They can crack the codes much easily than adults. The language "confusion" that some adults claim to happen with the children in these cases is more a lack of understanding of the processes that occur in children's brains and minds. Actually these adults are the source of the confusion.

Go ahead!


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:32
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
No special effort is needed Jul 11, 2010

Since your son is under five, he will pick up the language spoken around him, which I presume in Australia is English, automatically.

Children of that age have a natural affinity for language-learning.

What you need to concentrate on, however, is to continue speaking to him at home in his native language, as otherwise he will lose it over time as there would not be many speakers of that language in his new milieu, and it would be tragic if he lost his own language.

[2010-07-11 16:42 GMT पर संपादन हुआ]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My own experience Jul 11, 2010

We're a 100% English family who were expatriated to the Netherlands when our son was 7. As our plan was to move to France 3 years later, we put him into the French school.

So, 31st December we left England and he started school on 6th January. We were speaking English to him (his only language at the time), the kids in the street were Dutch and at school everything was in French. Poor kid!

He did seem to suffer for a few weeks, developing some stress-related symptoms (rocking, thumb-sucking, etc) but at the end of the first term he proudly announced he had come top in a dictation test! Then it was time to feel sorry for the parents of native French-speaking kids who were not at all happy with this situation! And by then he was swimming for a local club, and enjoying a good Dutch social life.

When we moved down to France he was fluent in both French and Dutch, but he lost all his Dutch within a couple of years. They learn quickly but they forget quickly too - so don't let your child forget the native language while acquiring English.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 23:02
German to English
+ ...
Don't wor5ry Jul 11, 2010

I moved to Austria with my daughter and spoke only english at home. She went to kindetrgarten at three and was a bit quiet there for the first year, and hasn't stopped talking german or english since! Kids learn easily.
Don't try and teach them. my German was not exactly a good model for hmy daughter to work from, the kids at school were. Keep your mother tongue at home (bilingualism is always a bonus) and expect xour son to use English most places, even in reply to questions in your own language


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