How to Help Your Young ESL Child Learn English


John in the Phillipines wrote us and asked “My daughter is 2 and ½ years old. What can I do at this age to prepare her for your program? We live in the Philippines and she uses English and Cebuano. We try to speak English to her, but there are so many relatives around who only speak Cebuano.”

That is an excellent question.

Here are some tips on how to teach ESL children for early reading :

  • Set up a daily time — 30 minutes is sufficient– but try to make sure it is daily.
    Go to a quiet area where only you and your child are present (it can be indoors or outdoors).
  • Sit with your child, open the book and at a slow pace, make “easy and simple” comments such as “Here is a big truck. It is really big, and it is so bright. It is all red.”
  • Do not question her (this is very important!). Just let her look at the material with you.
    If she makes a comment in Cebuano, “translate” it into English and then offer a relevant comment in English. Do not be afraid of long pauses or long silences. Within 3-4 weeks, she should become comfortable with the setting (as long as she feels no pressure), and even if she does not speak in English, she will be learning a lot. 

    You can do a similar activity using simple games like Lotto, or memory, etc. Ravensburger is an excellent company for that.

    Any comments you make should be in English such as “Now it is time to go back.” and “It is getting dark. We need to put on a light.” and so on. You may even want to make videos of some of the sessions. Over time, you are likely to be surprised and pleased at how much she is learning.

    Best of luck!

    If you have a question about how our online learning program can help your early reader, send us a message!  The Reading Kingdom is a great resource for both ESL students and children learning early reading skills. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Reading Kingdom to receive 30 days risk free!