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Exercises for Children Learning English

by Nadia Haris , studioD

If your native tongue is not English, your child will face challenges learning to speak this language fluently in school. The American Speak-Language-Hearing Association notes that English as a second language is common for many families. In California, for instance, 60 percent to 70 percent of schoolchildren do not speak English as their primary language, according to the association. You can help your child learn to speak, read and write in English with exercises that build and improve his vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.


Singing songs together is a catchy way to teach children language. Choose a song that has rhythm, rhyming and repetitive lyrics. The children's songs "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" is easy for kids to learn and uses simple vocabulary and universal animal sounds that all children will recognize, no matter what language they speak. Hold up pictures of farm animals as you sing the song together so that your child can associate the image with the word. After singing the same song a few times, pause so your child can sing the lyrics without your help. Help your child make up his own rhyming sentences and sing them together to memorize new words and definitions.


Expand your preschool or school-age child English vocabulary with pictures and objects. Use a large picture of a person or even a full-length photo of your child. Point to parts of the body and say the name aloud. Have your child repeat the words after you a few times. Then point to each part and ask your child to tell you what it is. Gently prompt him if he forgets. Use other pictures and objects such as fruits and vegetables to teach your child new English vocabulary. Say the word in your native tongue first, if necessary, to help him recognize the object. Immediately follow this with the English word to help your child build the association.

Flash Cards

Flash cards help your school-age child learn English by improving grammar and sentence structure. Write one word of a sentence on each note card. Add a picture to illustrate the word, if possible. Use sentences such as "My car is red and it goes fast" or "I am eating an orange and an apple." Say the sentence aloud and then scramble the flash cards. Help your child arrange the flash cards in the right order to make a complete sentence. Have him read the sentence to you and copy it in his notebook. Use sentences with up to 10 words at a time, but do not overwhelm your child with long or ambiguous-sounding sentences.

Complete Verbs

Using "to be" verbs such as "am," "is" and "are" can be confusing for many children, particularly if your school-age child is learning English as a second language. Write a list of simple sentences that use these verbs, such as "I am a boy," "My father is an engineer" and "The children are playing outside." Repeat a few sentences out loud and explain why you are using the different verbs. Then remove the verbs from each sentence and ask your child to complete it by filling in the verb in a written exercise or saying it for an oral exercise.

About the Author

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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