The more opportunities your child has for speaking, listening, reading and writing English, the more independent and confident he/she will become. The experience of E31 teachers suggests that active use of English - that is, speaking and writing - is more effective than passive use - listening and reading - in terms of language development and therefore in building self-confidence.
Active uses of English
Interacting with native-level or near-native speakers
Rich interactions (ie: pleasurable participation vs ‘homework’) such as:
-Talking about what you are doing in your daily context (cooking, shopping, gardening, washing, playing etc) and naming things in your environment (clothing, body parts, tools, toys etc) will turn everyday experiences into learning opportunities. At home there is the great advantage of using real and meaningful life experiences to prompt language growth. By talking about what your child is interested in, you are helping them make new connections in their thoughts and language.
-Providing a good model of recounting what you did at the end of your day (covering when?, where?, what? etc...) so that when you ask your child “What did you do today” they know what is expected and are less likely to respond with “I can’t remember”!
-Participating in board games and card games, telling jokes and singing songs, and for younger children, nursery rhymes…(you will find inspiration on YouTube by typing ‘nursery rhymes English’ into the search bar)
-The ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association has lots of tips on encouraging language development in children, which you can find here. To help the development of your child’s minority language, try:
*interacting with E31 and other anglophone friends,
*participating in telephone and video interactions with friends and family members,
*meeting different people who can speak the minority language.
It is also important to be consistent in linguistic behaviour at home. That might mean one parent, one language, having a ‘holiday language’ and a ‘round-the-year language’ or a ‘weekday language’ and a ‘Sunday language,’ or everyone speaking their preferred language. It’s up to you to choose something that suits your family.
You don’t have many opportunities to speak to native-level speakers? See the list of active language opportunities in Toulouse.
Interacting with non-native level, but confident speakers
The activities suggested for native speakers apply and parents can show particular interest in their children’s English class work by asking them what they are studying, by reading through their work and by discussing it with them and by helping them revise. Your support and encouragement in this way will help your children a great deal - even if you are not a native speaker.
Here is an extract of an article by Australian Speech and Language Pathologists Elizabeth Love and Sue Reilly, with tips aimed at parents of younger children to help develop oral language skills.
Production of language
Production of language includes anything which helps the student to produce something in English. Encourage enjoyable participation and risk taking. Keep in mind that expressing ideas is initially more important than perfect grammar or spelling.
-telling stories. For younger children, you can prompt them to include and describe the main story components: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution.
-keeping a diary or writing blog posts in English.
-interacting with others via e-mails, letters, social media or suitable on-line penpal platforms.
-having your children write shopping lists and recipes in English, write a novel or a comic book. You can create comics by using computer software or applications such as the Toontastic app.
-getting creative and recording Podcasts or videos.
A note on spelling: To help overcome difficulties with spelling common words you can help by dictating ‘tricky’ spelling words at regular intervals to help your child master them. Remember that the more students read and write, the less spelling mistakes tend to occur.
Passive uses of English
Note: Reading begins in the first year of life. If materials in both languages are available for the child to hold and glance through and if books are read to the child in both languages, biliteracy is encouraged before a child begins to decode words on a page.” (Bilingualism experts, Erika Hoff & Cynthia Core)
Reading books, e-books, magazines, web-sites, instructions, text messages...or even recipes. Monsterchef presents recipes which are adapted for children aged 2-12yrs.
-Re-reading books/texts that you have already read is very valuable for developing vocabulary and concepts - so it is not necessarily vital to constantly provide new reading material.
-Here are some tips and advice on how you can focus on developing vocabulary through books.
-And here are some general reading tips from the Booktrust for parents of children of all ages.
Your child doesn’t like to read? Try some of these ideas.
Your child is starting to learn his letters and sounds or is struggling to learn them?
-Try Mr Thorne’s lessons: where phonemes and graphemes are presented in individual videos by a likeable British guy and his friend Geraldine the Giraffe.
-Or try the BBC programme called Alphablocks which uses characters of the letter sounds to 'build up' words.
-Letters and sounds breaks the sounds down into phases, 1 to 6. As a guide, in E31 the phase 2 begins in CP (ie: UK year 2). Normally phases 2 and 3 (and possibly the beginning of phase 4) are covered in CP. Phases 4, 5 and 6 are covered in CE1 with both 5 and 6 being revisited in CE2.
-or: try the free computer-based Teach Your Monster to Read which has 3 different ability levels to choose from and is produced in the UK.
Not sure what to read? It is important that the choice of books is motivating. Begin by looking in the E31 libraries! You can also try searching on-line for suitable books and keep in mind that many classic English books are available on-line for free.
-You can buy English books via bookdepository.uk (free delivery) or similar on-line options. To find suitable books you can use the search terms ‘Year X reading list UK’ (so for example for a child in CE2 the following words could be used: ‘year 4 reading list UK’) always taking into account your child’s level of reading.
For students in the lower years: GS -CP Year 1 and 2 UK and CE1-CE2 Year 3 and 4 UK:
-Booktrust offers books with audio and text. Check the link to their YouTube channel which has numerous books presented on video.
-Unite for Literacy provides short picture books and also has the option of audio (American accent) and a suggested activity to do at home at the end of each book.
For older students in CM1-CM2 Year 5 and 6 UK and 6eme-3eme
- Commonlit is a US based website for children in grades 3+ that is, UK year 4+ or CE2+) You can search texts by grade level, genre, literary device etc. One very nice feature is the integration of word definitions integrated into the texts and the option of audio if you sign-in.
- The school magazine is an on-line school magazine which contains stories, plays, poems, non-fiction and activities for readers of 4 different age groups: 7-9, 9-10,10-11 and 11+years
-You can search for books in the children's library by age, length (picture books or chapter books) fiction or nonfiction
-Wattpad is especially for teenagers
Want to read current events/ news stories?
-for 7-14 year-olds there is FirstNews and theweekjunior– which are both weekly paper-based newspapers from the UK that require paid subscriptions.
-But if you want current events on-line for free, young people could read Dogonews and kidsnews and for older students there is Newsela.
-Or if your child is not interested in the news, you could choose to subscribe to a suitable monthly magazine. For example, from the UK check out newsstand.
-Take advantage of the E31 school libraries sections. Students are encouraged to borrow books from our English31 library sections across primary (E31 classroom), collège (room 132) and lycée (CDI).
-Some public libraries have sections dedicated to English books. Ask your local library and take a look. (especially in and around Toulouse)
-You could try book sharing with other E31 families.
-Second-hand books are often for sale on local Facebook pages and from local sales (eg: TWIG annual book fair).
-To give your kids the true feeling of being in an English bookshop visit ‘The Bookshop’ in Toulouse.
Passive uses of English specifically for History-Geography for collège and lycée.
-History Today Magazine - print or app subscription
-National Geographic magazine for Geography
-History Extra (run by the BBC) - magazine and podcasts
-Horrible Histories are a popular series of books that can appeal to children from CM1 to early college
-You're Dead to Me - Kids History podcast. Highly recommended.
-Kids in the past - short podcasts on life as a child in different ages
-The Past & The Curious - History podcast for kids
-Horrible Histories video adaptations of the book series for children from CM1 to early collège
Reading, listening and watching history-geography
-History Hit - the Netflix for History with a hundreds of podcasts, documentaries and articles. Regularly updated and a wide range of topics. It's also divided into age specific sections in 'Collections' so there is Key Stage 3 for lower collège. Small subscription
Including listening to people, English radio programs, Podcasts, audio books and music
There is sure to be something that focuses on your child’s interests.
-The Storylineonline site which presents famous actors (mainly American) reading picture-story books and which is suitable for younger students or try 'Mrs Rutland Reads' on Youtube. Mrs Rutland demonstrates (with a UK accent) how to read stories whilst also talking about the books to encourage children's interest and to develop their vocabulary and language.
-There is also this site Storyberries with stories and audio with text in order to read along. You can select according to age 0-12yrs, theme, length and some of them are even animated.
-And this poetry archive presents poetry for ages 0-16yrs with the bonus of many of the poems being read by their authors.
-Audio books are available to buy on Audible or these following sites are free: -the BBC has some audio books or try here at Lit2Go which includes some classics (and also poetry, speeches etc.) and also provide accompanying texts to read along with ( note: Lit2Go is a US based website so Grade 4 the US for example = Year 5 in the UK = CM1)
Watching anglophone TV or films in English/VO, appropriate Youtube videos etc (the use of subtitles can help to reinforce vocabulary). Again, there is sure to be something that focuses on your child’s interests.
-For younger students, here are some short animated stories from the British Council with the possibility of printing the text. And these stories from the BBC also have subtitles.
-Younger children might like to watch quality public television programs many of which can be viewed via YouTube. For example:
-from the USA there is the PBS (eg: Wild Kratts, Word Girl, Arthur Read, Sid the Science Kid, The Magic School Bus, SuperWhy), Martha Speaks is an animated series. Designed to enrich the vocabulary of 4- to 7-year-olds,
- from the UK there is the BBC (eg: Nina and the Neurons, Blue Peter, and current events)
- from Australia there is the ABC (eg: Bluey or Play School for example which are both very good for 3-6year-olds)
-For current affairs: for older children you could try listening to Newsround – CBBC news channel
Some Passive Learning Links (Websites with activities)
Two characters Boowa and Kwala present French-English songs and games for children 2-10yrs
British Council offers activities for children in all areas of communication (listening, reading, writing….)