Learning English from 2 years old is not a trend but a need of the modern world!
In recent years, the age of those children, who study English at their parents’ wish, has decreased significantly. Learning a foreign language from 2 years old has become common for many people. An English teacher and psychologist Natalia Yevseichyk will tell us whether it will really help to master a foreign language at a qualitative level in the future and what must be considered when teaching preschool children.
Natalia Yevseichyk is a graduate of Nizhyn Gogol State Pedagogical University. By profession, she is a teacher of the English and Ukrainian languages and practical psychologist. For over 8 years, she has taught English to children aged 2-7. Natalia is the author of several techniques of working with preschool children and works with children at OKESHKA Preschool.
When is it better for a child to begin learning a foreign language?
According to my 8-year experience, the earlier a child begins learning a foreign language, the easier and more natural they will feel in it. In fact, children learn new material very easily because their memory can absorb a lot of new words. Once I calculated that my 4-year-old pupils already knew about 120 English verbs and nouns, as well as a bunch of adjectives. Therefore, if you regularly speak English with your child, it will be easy for them aged even 4-5 years old to communicate with foreigners in public spaces. I have repeatedly witnessed how children naturally switched to English in a foreign environment. And it is amazing because those people who begin learning English in later life always face a particular barrier, “How to say it?”, “Do they understand me?” or “Will I look funny?” Any child easily fits in a foreign space and does not have such a psychological problem. So teaching a foreign language to your child from 2 years old, you make an investment in their future. In addition to gaining the knowledge, the child also gains confidence in their abilities.
Games in working with preschoolers are the key to learning a foreign language!
Like any other mental activity, learning a foreign language for preschoolers is easy and interesting if a teacher makes each class entertaining. When you learn the names of animals, you definitely have to go with your little friends to a virtual forest. If you want your pupils to know meals, you should create an atmosphere of a real restaurant. Involving their favorite toys and talking about their hobbies help them master a foreign language in an easy and simple way. In this case, a teacher must necessarily connect “the language game” with singing and dancing to help children feel comfortable during each lesson.
The role of parents in learning a foreign language
If you, parents, speak any foreign language your child is learning in parallel with a native one, I would highly recommend you to find at least an hour to communicate with them in this language. However, I have to warn you. This is not about a typical practice like “Let’s learn a verse or repeat the words you learned in class”. Unfortunately, such form of learning will not catch the interest of your child and will have practically no effect. Much more useful will be discussing any topic and simple questions about what your child has done, which toy he or she wants to play today and why. Just believe me, this form allows your child to switch easily. Moreover, he or she learns to perceive even complex words and phrases by ear. If you managed to turn such language games into a family tradition, then a few months later you will be proud of how easily your child speaks English with your friends and colleagues.
Will native speakers be of help for your child?
A native speaker is not a panacea for your child when learning a foreign language. Naturally, listening to a native speaker’s tone of voice and getting acquainted with the set expressions they use is an important thing. However, it is not the solution to all problems. First, I advise all parents to find a professional who has a special education, understands psychological characteristics of children, and knows a teaching methodology. Of course, these professionals (native speakers) also work in Ukraine. But believe me that Ukrainian teachers are professional as well. Perhaps, they will have a way with your child faster.
Group or individual lessons: achieving the best results when learning a foreign language
When we talk about teaching preschoolers, we have to consider that their main activity is a game. Therefore, I believe that preschoolers learn material better in small groups consisting of 5-6 children. Here they light up each other, communicate with each other, and “infect” each other with emotions, thus creating a natural atmosphere of learning and communication situation in the real world. When you are left with a baby face-to-face, you cannot move away from the situation “an adult – a child” even if you want to. So, personally, I would advise group classes for children. By the way, learning a foreign language should presuppose the division of preschool children into the following age groups: 2-3 years old, 3-4 years old, and 5-6 years old. Such a division meets the psychological characteristics of children and will enable them to achieve the best results. Moreover, when working with preschoolers you should remember that the activities you offer to children should be constantly changed to avoid tiredness. Besides, there should always be “a miracle” in your pocket to not only surprise them but also to attract the attention of you pupils back to yourself and your lesson.
Tips for young professionals who want to try their hand at teaching a foreign language to preschoolers
First, do not hesitate and try. It took some time for me to start working with children. But when I conducted my first lesson, I realized that I loved it. Then my pupils showed the incredibly successful results in learning English. Of course, you should remember that you have to play the same games with your pupils, and you need to forget about your age and become as a child during each lesson. The only remark: you are a little bit older and are responsible for your pupils.