For ESL Parents – Supporting Your Child’s Language-Learning Journey

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” ~ Jane D. Hull

Dear ESL parents,

Is your child learning English? Are you an English learner yourself? The most important thing you can do to support your child’s language learning is to be involved. After all, parent involvement is the key to early literacy!

Think back to when your child learned his or her first language. You were your child’s first teacher! Parents teach their children their native language by talking to them, singing to them, reading to them, and keeping them close by during daily routines and interactions with others.

Parent involvement is crucial when it comes to learning additional languages as well. Here are five tips for supporting your children during their language-learning journeys.

1. Be a role model. Show that you care about learning English yourself. Read books, newspapers, and magazines in English. Tell your child, “I’m learning English too!”

2. Be a learning partner. Find dialogues to practice with your child. This week’s featured Sprout English lesson (see below) is perfect for a parent and child to practice together. You can play the role of the parent, and your child can be the child! You’ll find plenty of dialogues to practice in Sprout English’s Conversation Station.

3. Be a good listener. Find a television show or series to watch regularly with your child. Tune your car radio to an English station. Even if you and your child don’t recognize most of the words, you’re both learning the rhythm of the language. This is very important! While you are doing chores around the house, listen to ESL-Library’s podcast. Tell your child it’s your English show.

4. Be an English detective. If your child doesn’t know the proper pronunciation of a word, look it up together. The Merriam-Webster dictionary for English learners is an excellent resource. A pronunciation dictionary like HowJSay is useful too. Put a shortcut to these English tools on your mobile phone and computer desktop to make English detective work easy!

5. Be your child’s student. The best way to learn is to teach. Ask your child to be your English teacher. Children love playing school! Get a chalkboard or whiteboard for your home, and ask your children to teach you everything they learn, including vocabulary and grammar. Invite some stuffed animals or dolls to join these English classes. Read English stories out loud, and ask your “teacher” to correct your pronunciation and help you with words you don’t know.

Weekly Word Wall Parent Challenge
Look at the list of words below from the text above. Are there any words you don’t know? Look up the definitions in the suggested learner’s dictionary. Look up the pronunciation of these words in the suggested pronunciation dictionary. Teach these words to your spouse, a friend, or even your child. Create a Weekly Word Wall list for yourself and put it on your fridge. Show your child that you want to learn new vocabulary, too.

  • literacy
  • crucial
  • interaction
  • role model
  • dialogue
  • detective
  • podcast

Try this week’s featured dialogue with your child. Conversation Station – Simple Past Dialogues 2.


[Teachers: Feel free to print and send Sprout English's blog posts and letters home with your students to share with their parents!]


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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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