From 2020, Japanese students will be expected to answer questions on English listening and speaking in addition to reading and writing on college entrance exams. As a result the importance of English communication skills is becoming more and more important for Japanese students. What should parents do to encourage their children to like learning English(foreign languages)?
According to research, about 60% of Japanese junior high school students dislike English (foreign language). Of this 60%, 80% of them felt uncomfortable with English until the last half of their first year of junior high school. Therefore, the majority of students begin to dislike English (foreign language) very soon after they begin to study it.
Some parents are worried about introducing English(foreign language) before their child’s native language has developed. However, instead of trying to “teach” their child English (foreign language) it is important for parents to provide them with a fun environment where they can pick up the language naturally. Exposing children to English (foreign language) from a younger age in this way will help lower the hurdle for them when they begin studying the subject in school. If possible, children should be exposed to English (foreign language) before the age of 5 years old.
For parents who cannot speak English (foreign language) themselves, creating a fun learning environment sounds like a difficult task. However, it is not as difficult as you think.
It is important for parents to provide their children with the opportunity to experience English first hand as much as possible. One way may be to attend mommmy and me classes held in English(foreign language). Exploring children’s books and videos like “Winnie the Pooh” and “Curious George” which were originally written in English is another way to encourage children to like English (foreign language). Children can understand the story by looking at the pictures or video even if they do not understand the words which makes the experience less stressful.
Toddlers like to listen to their favorite picture books and watch their favorite cartoons over and over again. As they watch or listen over and over again, they begin to memorize the words and phrases they hear. So parents should expose their children to English works as much as possible. Apps and video are a great way for young children to learn English (foreign language).
Children get bored easily. All of a sudden, they may shift their attention to Japanese cartoons and picture books instead of the English (foreign language) versions they showed interest in earlier. However, it is important that parents do not get angry when this happens. If children feel this pressure and anger, they will develop a negative feeling toward English last will last forever. Instead, let’s wait until they understand the importance of learning the language on their own.
If children grow with a belief that English (foreign language) is fun it will last them until adulthood. In conclusion, to prevent children from disliking English (foreign language) in the future, it is important for parents to make the language fun and not pressure them into studying if they are not interested in it.
Let’s make use of mommy and me classes to make learning language fun and provide our children with the opportunity to explore English (foreign language) through play!