The recipe for making your children happy to learn English online!
You desperately want your children to learn English, but every time you suggest they do a course, the answer is NO, and it’s impossible to change their minds. That’s probably because your children have no idea of what you are talking about. When you tell them that they have to learn English, they start imagining long lessons and never-ending grammar exercises. Maybe they’re a little shy, perfectionists or scared by the potential difficulties. They might have visions of a strict teacher correcting their mistakes with a red pen, or it could just be the fact that they would like to spend time with their friends. They’d prefer to play games or do sports rather than sit for hours in front of a computer listening to a boring teacher talking about something they’re not interested in. Well, if you want your children to learn English, don’t talk about courses. Instead, talk about activities and games you can do together or with new friends. Encourage them by reminding them how good they are, tell them they won’t have to sacrifice the time they spend with their friends, tell them the lessons are short and not boring.
Here are the 4 ingredients you need to make your children love online English learning.
- Communication must be the purpose, and communicating in English must be a fun moment and not a grammar moment. Children must be driven by motivation, and nothing motivates them more than play and fun. (I’ve written about this in this post). Your child must see a purpose in the course, and the purpose of language learning is communication. Why should your child feel the need to do a grammar exercise with no other purpose than please a parent or teacher. So, step number one: avoid online courses, which are recorded lessons and exercises with no meaningful interaction. If you want your child to love online English learning, both formats are good, but only if they allow the children to be active! Talk, play and do craftwork. Choose a course based on games that allow interaction between small groups of students rather than grammar exercises. (Like my free course) Your child will love to play with other children online, and they’ll soon understand that if they want to have fun and meet new friends, they have to use English and therefore find the motivation to do so.
- Positive feedback. Right, a moment of growth rather than humiliation. The focus must be on what is done correctly. When our children are learning, they don’t need us to continually tell them that they have spelt something wrong, that they’ve mispronounced a word, or that they have to remember every single word from the word bank in their textbooks. They need to know how well they can communicate their message, despite their mistakes. If you want your children to love online English learning when you see them making some mistakes, just correct them by repeating the correct language and having them repeat it after you, but they emphasise what they have done well. The same rule applies to a teacher on an online course.
- The right level, a level that is too high, can be stressful and demotivating, whereas a level that is too low can be boring. Test your child's level before choosing a course, and talk to the teacher about your own and your children’s expectations.
- A routine. Keep in mind that the attention span of your child must be respected. In terms of flexibility, an online course is perfect. If you want your children to love their course, choose the best time to watch the recorded lesson together or, if it’s a “Live only” course, for studying and doing the proposed activities. Having a routine is essential. It helps the child focus, and it allows to build it around their attention span.
As you can see, successful online learning is not about watching YouTube videos, passive video lessons and playing video games. Instead, you can see that I have been talking about human interaction. A child is a human being who needs positive and meaningful human interactions to learn everything, including English, and it is wonderful to know that these interactions can be included in online English learning.
Now you know the ingredients, let’s make your child a happy online English learner!
What do you think about my recipe? Would you add something to it?
You can download my recipe here and hang it onto your fridge! In this way, you will have something to refer to when choosing a course or helping your children follow an online one.
If you want to give online courses a try, you could sign your child up for my free seven-week online course: Busy Bee English.
If you want to get more tips to help your child learn English at home, you can subscribe to my newsletter. I will send you an email once a month (you can unsubscribe anytime) with suggestions about fun listening and speaking activities to enrich your homeschooling curriculum.
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I help homeschooling families find English a second language curriculum and resources for their children (8 to 12 y.o.)! My motto is: At Home Doesn’t Mean Alone! In my international online community. You can find fun activities, inspiring lessons, conversation classes, games and higher-level courses. I'll be glad to have you and your children there!