English for Your Whole Family

english familyLearning English is important to you. But what about the rest of your family? Are your siblings learning English? What about your parents or in-laws? If you are a parent, are you teaching English to your babies and young children?

Don’t leave out the older generations in your family. People often assume that older people don’t want to learn new things. This is a myth. Many older people know the importance of learning something new every day. They will be happy to know that language learning is food for the brain. It’s never too late to learn English.

Teaching English to your family members is a great way to improve your own English level. Consider this famous quote: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” By teaching someone else the skills you’ve learned, you will become more fluent.

Learning something new together can bring you closer as a family too. Here are 4 tips for helping your family members learn English:

  1. Have an English Evening each Week Learning is always easier when it becomes a ritual. Here are a few examples of English rituals you can have with your immediate and extended family one night per week:Recipe Night: Find an English recipe from a cookbook or online recipe site. Read the recipe out loud and have your grandmother or father-in-law help you follow the instructions. As you cook and eat, teach vocabulary about the food. Teach simple verbs such as “eat” and “like”. Teach common adjectives such as “tasty” and “spicy”.Movie night: Choose an English movie with subtitles. Pause the movie once in a while to help your family members learn new words or expressions.Sports Night: Get active in English. Go bowling, skating, or hiking once a week and teach a few words related to the outing. For example: “You fell down.” “You got a strike.” “Your skates have long laces.”Novel Night: Choose a classic English story that your family members may know, such as “The Wizard of Oz” or “Harry Potter”. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” is a great story for the whole family. Read one chapter out loud each week. It isn’t important that the other members understand the words. Just listening to the language is a good start. Teach a few new words each time. Review what happened in the previous chapters each week.
  2. Create an English Family Tree together
    This is a great way to get your family interested in English. Gather your family together and tell them you have to create a family tree in English. Teach your family members what each person is called in English. This will help you learn which members are interested in English. Write the words in English and share stories together.
  3. Be an English Mentor to One Family Member
    You can be an English mentor to one of your family members. Perhaps your grandma or your cousin has expressed interest in learning a bit of English. Devote one hour of your week to this person. The time you spend together will be worth every minute! Introduce this family member to MyEC. Help your sister or brother set up a page!
  4. Share your Favourite English Secrets
    Maybe your aunt or uncle need a little nudge to learn English. When you find an English lesson or video that you find useful, send it to your family members via email. You could also share your English links via Facebook or other networks your family members are part of. Encourage your family members to join EnglishClub to receive the 7 Secrets for ESL Learners! Create your own English library of links so that you can share them easily. If your family members don’t have a computer, take the time to print out a page once in a while. Send it via snail mail or put it on their fridge!

leave someone out: to NOT include a person
generation: all the people in one stage of the family
myth: a common belief that is not true
snail mail: letters or other mail that you send via a postal service (not electronically)

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Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | November 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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