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Learning English for the First Time

October 2, 2015

Learning a language takes time and patience, but we have some found some tips complied by Licensed Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist Natalia Likhtik at that can help children acquire the English language faster.


  • Talk to your children in English a lot. If children are to acquire a language, they absolutely must have a language rich environment.
  • Use gestures to support understanding of a specific word.  If you’re talking about something under the table, use a gesture to explain the meaning of “under.” Some parents have even taught their children signed manual codes like English Sign Language or Signing Exact English.
  • Speak slower, especially when introducing new concepts.
  • Rephrase statements using simpler language.
  • Repeat key words and phrases to make your meaning clearer.  
  • Praise your child’s attempt to use English.
  • When your child is expected to respond in English, limit his answer choices. “Do you want a shiny red apple or a big round orange?”
  • Set aside some home routines like tooth brushing or getting dressed that have a lot of tangible objects to be conducted only in English.  Go over the names of all the objects every time the routine is completed.
  • Introduce a larger variety of words. Instead of using words like “good” or “nice,” be more specific. Say something like, “That drawing is beautiful. It’s very brightly colored! You are such a talented artist.”
  • Your child needs to be able to tell stories about himself and what happened to him. A great exercise for this is taking turns telling each other about your day at the dinner table.
  • Ask questions and make comments that continue a conversation “What happened next?” “That sounds scary!”