How to teach your child SPEAK foreign language?

speaking_difficultiesIn this article we are going to speak about the fact why children can’t speak foreign language. In opposite to adults, children can have different problems and, of course, different ways and different methods to solve them. In my experience, there are some cases where children have been learning a foreign language for some years, but they still can’t speak. Some teachers adhere to the opinion that, at first, children should learn the grammar. So during the most part of the lesson, they practise grammar, do exercises and translate some texts. But the problem is that children don’t learn how to think the foreign language. It takes lots of forces to create a sentence and it is almost impossible to express simple thoughts. Let’s see how you can help your child.

  1. Ask your child to give the whole answer to the question, instead of “Yes” or “No”

  2. Often ask “why?”

  3. Ask child’s opinion

  4. One speaking topic for every lesson

  5. Discuss the problem situations


There is 50 per cent of the answer in the question. If the child repeats the whole sentence, he memorizes its structure and gets used to the speaking in the foreign language. For example, “Do you like reading books?”, “Yes, I like reading books” or “No, I don’t like reading books”. The child pronounces the sentence and thinks about its structure.

“Why?” it is a very useful question when learning languages. Try to ask “why?” after an affirmative sentence. For example, “I like reading books”, “Why do you like reading books?”. The child has to explain, why it is good to read the books for him/her. Even if the answer contains just one sentence, it is great. An additional method is asking child’s opinion. After reading a text, ask the opinion about certain questions. For example, “What do you think about this text? Do you like it? What do you like the most about this text? Why does this character behave like that? What is good/bad about this character?” Let the child think two minutes about it and let him make some notes if it is needed. The very important thing in this method is forming a habit to speak. It will be usual thing for the child to think and speak the foreign language.

I did a simple examination for one of my pupils who had speaking problem. He is just seven years old. Every lesson I gave him a speaking home assignment. There were some simple speaking topics about his favorite holidays, animals, about his leisure and hobby. At the beginning, he answered unwillingly and just a few sentences. But after some weeks, he started to speak more and he tried to do his speech longer and more interesting. Now I feel the confidence in his speech. I see that it is the usual thing for him to speak English. In addition, I asked him lots of questions during our lessons and his speaking became better.

There is also another useful method. I use it with my teenage pupils. While learning some topics, I choose problem situations and ask my students how to solve them, or how would behave my pupils in this situation. It works good for teenagers, as we can choose an interesting topic for the discussion and I can watch the interest of my pupils for it. They want to express their opinion and share with a teacher their experience. Here are some discussion topic that I used:

– Changing appearance: the pros and cons

– Bitter true or sweet lie: what would you choose?

– My parents don’t understand me. What can I do about it?

Don’t forget to say a couple of good words to the child, say about their progresses and do some compliments about their work. But remember, when you do a compliment, explain it to the child. You can say for example.: “Today you worked well because you used the past simple tense correctly and your answers were interesting”. The next lesson, the child will try to work better to have another compliment. Never lie to the child about the learning progress.

Also read french and russian version


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