To learn a new language, one must understand how a child learns the mother tongue. Most people learn mother tongue by listening to others speak.
Child has to listen first, then speak and finally be able to write. Teach English like they are learning their mother tongue.
From the time a child is born, they listen to members at home speak their mother tongue. They hear the words, sounds, see the actions and try to imitate the same.
Listening is a basic skill and acts like the first building block to learning a language. Expose the child to different kinds of audio in the language. They can be music, rhymes stories or even poems. Accustom the child to listening to the language and slowly that grabs their attention.
As the child keeps listening, they gradually learn to speak as well. First they start with small words and then speak short sentences. This happens organically without any stress on using the right grammar. The child freely gets to exercise their speech using the vocabulary they hear and pick up every day.
The pronunciation, the accent of their mother tongue is also learnt naturally without any emphasis being given to learning it. It is first their mother tongue which develops the child’s hearing and speaking skills.
We do not teach them to read or write the mother tongue first, do we? This applies to learning any other language too.
After listening and speaking their mother tongue, they are then taught how to read their mother tongue. A child must first learn the alphabet or letters of the language. The grammar, and sentence structures comes next. Picture books, letter books, story books, newspapers or magazines at home help a child understand how their language. All these written forms gain an insight into how the language is being read out.
A child cannot learn to read unless they first listen and learn to speak the language. To learn to read a language like English, there are different methods used in preschools to each phonetics as part of the reading readiness program.
Reading therefore must be taken up only once the child gains listening and speaking skills in the language being taught.
The last skill to be mastered is the writing skill. None of us would have learnt how to write without listening, speaking and being able to read a language. Preschool curriculum should focus first on teaching a child develop listening, speaking, and reading skills before writing. Writing is taught through sand tracing, sandpaper tracing and several other methods. This develops the child’s pincer grip before moving to holding a crayon or a pencil.
Therefore, one must focus on listening and speaking skills before mastering reading and writing skills. Any change in this order of teaching a language will hinder the learning process. Just the way a mother tongue is taught to a child, learning any new language must be taught too. This process ensures the child gets fluent and comfortable using the language.
When a child is fluent in a language like English, it automatically gives him confidence in this global world. They have the power to communicate with people across the world. This helps them succeed and excel in their careers as well. Learning a global language like English is a prominent skill as it enables us to interact and work in a highly productive manner. In the absence of this, they might struggle to reach higher professional or personal goals in the current times.
One can learn a new language at any age, any time in their lives. In order to excel with competent proficiency in a language, remember to first master your listening skills through listening to others speak the language. For instance, you could listen to native speakers talking to each other. Even, watch movies in that language. Secondly, master your speaking skills by speaking to native speakers or others learning the same language. Thirdly, learn the letters/alphabet of the language and learn how to read the language. And finally, once you master all the three skills above, move to learning how to write the language. Keep listening, speaking, reading, and writing until you get fluent in the language.
For instance, the same applies to your child too when they learn a second or third language like English, Hindi, or any regional language in India. An important thing to note is that practice makes them perfect over time. Above all, as a child moves from lower to higher grades, they get to perfect the language and get fluent eventually.