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Friday, June 18, 2010

I want to improve my son’s English speaking skills. 

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"Dear Ai, I want to improve my son’s English speaking skills. How is it possible? He is in grade 7. My husband and I don’t speak fluent English. Please help me."- Sydney

“Hi Sydney, thank you for asking me a wonderful question. All parents wish that their children do well in their lives. You mentioned that you and your husband do not speak English well. Does that mean both of you speak different languages to him at home? That’s great! He can be a multi-language speaker in the future.

I also understand your worry for your son’s English speaking skills.

One scenario might be that your son is shy and has low-self esteem. In that case, sign up for sport/music/reading club activities for your son. Set up a familiar and safe speaking environment for him. Even though he is shy and it is hard to speak to his friends at first, he can communicate with doing things that he is good at. Team sports is great because they will help him to meet different types of children, but if he is good at an individual sport like swimming, please encourage him to pursue his interest. Once he has confidence, he will be comfortable to try things he is not good at.

The second scenario would be that he might sense that his parents feel uncomfortable speaking English. Show him that learning another language is fun! Watch movies/TV shows with him. Listen to dialogues and practice with him. Invite your English speaking family friends to play together.

I heard from a piano teacher that many parents learn how to play piano together with their kids. You also can join a karate, yoga, or swimming class that caters to both parents and children. Get a new skill and improve speaking English!

At home, you can read English picture books (which have a lot of conversation) to him. Then he can read aloud and you can even role-play. One of my favorite books to read at this stage are The Hardy Boys.
You will be surprised to hear a lot of parents wish for their kids to be multi-lingual like your son!

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