English as a second language
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  1. #1
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    Default English as a second language

    I’ve got a child starting soon whose home language isn’t English.

    They’ll be about 22 months old when they start. Their main exposure to English has been through children’s TV programmes. The parents’ English is very good.

    It’s a very long time since I’ve looked after a child whose first language isn’t English, so I’m looking for ideas and information.

    What do you have in place? What works and what doesn’t? Going back a long way we were always told to get books and signs in the child’s home language, but I’ve often wondered why, if I can’t pronounce them properly and the child is too young to read?

    As the child is just learning to talk, I’ve asked parents to record some of the words/sounds he says/attempts to say and tell me what they mean. I’m going to use photo picture cards to show what we’re doing through the day and for choice cards. I realise they won’t work straight away, but hopefully they will in time.

    What sort of things would you do? Any tips will be gratefully received

  2. #2
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    it's not quite the same as your situation but I had a little one whose mum is French and dad is English. She came to me at 7 months and I spoke English all the time to her. At home mum spoke French to her all the time and dad spoke in English, confusing you may think but no she speaks and understands both languages perfectly and she's nearly 3 now. You say the parent's English is very good so what do they do at home? The younger they are to learn a new language the better aren't they so personally I don't think I would try to speak in a language I wasn't familiar with as I feel that wouldn't be helpful to the child.

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    I did a course years and years ago where the leader spoke to us in Gujarati for the majority of the activity part of the course. She read us a story (think it was Brown Bear, Brown Bear) and asked us questions afterwards. Obviously, the non Gujerati speakers didn't have a clue what she said. Then, she did the same activity but with lots of props and we were all able to join in with the story and figure out what she was asking of us. It was amazing. The point she was obviously making was to have lots of props/visuals to bring stories and rhymes to life. She had target vocab which she would use in several different contexts (with props) until we actually learnt the word, for example, horse.

    I think you just have to be even more focused on language/vocab than we already are anyway in the eyfs. Have set words/phrases that you want him to learn and repeat them in an exaggerated way, again in lots of different contexts and with gestures.

    You might be able to find versions of familiar stories in his home language on youtube.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris goodyear View Post
    it's not quite the same as your situation but I had a little one whose mum is French and dad is English. She came to me at 7 months and I spoke English all the time to her. At home mum spoke French to her all the time and dad spoke in English, confusing you may think but no she speaks and understands both languages perfectly and she's nearly 3 now. You say the parent's English is very good so what do they do at home? The younger they are to learn a new language the better aren't they so personally I don't think I would try to speak in a language I wasn't familiar with as I feel that wouldn't be helpful to the child.
    At home parents only speak Polish and most of the people they mix with are Polish, so that's what the little boy hears most. From what I've read, it's best for the child if the family speak exclusively in their own language at home and I speak English. I've got no plans to attempt speaking Polish as it's not a language I'm at all familiar with, but I did think it would be useful to know what he was saying when he speaks to me. It's good to know that you've got proof of it working!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maza View Post
    I did a course years and years ago where the leader spoke to us in Gujarati for the majority of the activity part of the course. She read us a story (think it was Brown Bear, Brown Bear) and asked us questions afterwards. Obviously, the non Gujerati speakers didn't have a clue what she said. Then, she did the same activity but with lots of props and we were all able to join in with the story and figure out what she was asking of us. It was amazing. The point she was obviously making was to have lots of props/visuals to bring stories and rhymes to life. She had target vocab which she would use in several different contexts (with props) until we actually learnt the word, for example, horse.

    I think you just have to be even more focused on language/vocab than we already are anyway in the eyfs. Have set words/phrases that you want him to learn and repeat them in an exaggerated way, again in lots of different contexts and with gestures.

    You might be able to find versions of familiar stories in his home language on youtube.
    That course must have been interesting.

    I have looked after children whose home language isn't English before, but they were older and had a good understanding of English, even if their spoken English was a bit slower to develop. I think I'm worrying that this little boy is just learning to talk, at the same time as learning a new language.

    I have lots of props and visual aids so I'm going to give them a go

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