6 Ways to Get Kids to Express Themselves in Another Language

“It is said that children learn languages from their environment. They get into an environment where language can happen, and language learning happens.” —Greg Thompson

Although kids learn English in school, the most powerful language learning takes place outside the classroom with family or peers. Children need a context and time to experiment and play with the vocabulary and grammar they’ve acquired. They need to make plenty of mistakes so they learn from them. Outside the classroom, children can make mistakes safely and don’t feel intimidated by grading or assessment. Below are six ideas for helping children practice English outside of school in fun and engaging ways. This is a great list to share with parents at the beginning of the school year! Feel free to make a copy of this parent email template to send to the parents of your English language learners this year. (more…)

Silent E, Evil E, Magic E: Videos and Songs

I’ll never forget the day my son came home and told me all about how evil the letter ‘e’ can be. He taught me that the letter ‘e’ sometimes goes at the end of words and makes the vowels say their names. How rude! While I remember learning about Silent ‘e’ (worked for me), I’ve since learned that there are many other names for this trickster of a letter, including Evil E and Bossy E.

Are you using Sprout English’s Spotlight Phonics lesson in class this week? Have you reviewed Tanya’s pronunciation tips? Here are some fun songs and stories to share with your learners to get these rules to stick!

Evil E

“Say it Vowel! Say your name!”
Young kids act out a funny play with letters and demonstrate how ‘e’ hops over other letters and makes the vowel in front say its name. Evil E is bit of a bully, isn’t he?

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Music Activity for Young English Learners: Drumroll, Please!

Do your young learners love singing, clapping, and dancing to the music? Young kids are natural music lovers. Research suggests that our taste for a specific kind of music gets stronger with age. In other words, when we’re young, we’re tolerant of many types of music.

Listeners of any age appreciate the unexpected when it comes to music. This is why we pay attention when we hear an acoustic song that we are used to hearing with electronic instruments. We also take notice when a female sings a song originally recorded by a man. Mixing things up, especially when it comes to music, is the key to staying interested!

Here is a fun activity to try with your young learners. It includes a drum craft followed by a singing activity.

Make Some Drums

Choose one of the following recipes for making handmade drums with your students. (more…)

Odd One Out: 5 Silly Activities for Very Young English Learners

Young kids often giggle when they see things that don’t seem quite right! Get your youngest English learners giggling (and learning) with these silly Odd One Out games and activities.

Dizzy Doodlers

You will need: Whiteboard markers or chalk and a board

1. Think of a category or theme that you have been working on with your students, such as “shapes” or “animals”. Don’t tell the kids the theme.
2. Invite four students up to the board. (your first set of doodlers)
3. Choose three related words from your category (e.g., monkey, hippo, bear) and one unrelated word (e.g., can of soup). Assign all of the students at the board one of the words you chose. If they don’t know the word in English, you can translate it.
4. Before the students start drawing, spin them around once or twice (to get them a bit off balance).
5. Give the kids a short amount of time to create their drawing.
6. When the drawings are finished, ask the class this question:

Who’s the Dizzy Doodler?
In other words, which student drew the picture that doesn’t belong in this collection? Have your students identify each drawing as well as the category or collection the drawings belong in. Which category or collection would the odd picture belong in? (more…)

10 Educational Songs and Videos for Teaching Kids about Food

This week’s Spotlight feature is from our Discovery Center, and it’s all about Food Allergies. Are you doing a unit on Food in your classroom this year? You’ll probably want to teach your students some songs to help them learn all of the basic vocabulary. I’m sure you’ll also read some stories and play some games. Here are some fun and educational videos you may want to use during your unit on Food.

1. Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream? (song)

Introduce how to express food preferences.
Do you like…? Yes I do. No I don’t.
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