5 Mistakes Parents Make When Their Kids Are Learning English
You know how it feels to learn a language as an adult. It’s difficult. For kids, it seems far easier because they’re wired to learn languages when they’re young. However, it’s quite easy to forget some key ideas that make a HUGE difference.
One of the best things about creating Jool was that it gave us an opportunity to learn from our students and improve the process of learning a language the Jool way. Here are 5 mistakes parents often make and a way to fix all of them.
Mistake #1 - Impatience
This is a big one and I’m sure it might ring a few alarm bells. Kids need time. That doesn’t mean the learning process needs to be slow or passive. That’s very different. What I’m talking about is time to absorb the content being learned and time to bond with their teacher. Language learning requires a complex feedback loop where we are exposed to stimuli, try to understand it, and then try to encode that language into long-term memories. It’s simple to write, but very difficult for kids. So, what can parents do to best help? Stop getting itchy feet. It is far better for the progress of your child and their emotional and intellectual progress to give them time to adapt. Don’t expect your child to pop like a bag of popcorn after 2 minutes. Make a careful choice of where you want your child to study and give the process time.
At Jool, we’ve seen such amazing progress with our students who have time to grow with their teacher and the language.
Mistake #2 - It’s miserable
Kids are not adults. Their personality can become incredibly mature, but kids are kids. We can push them and challenge them, but they need to smile and feel upbeat. Consider how important it is when you’re learning anything to feel like it’s worth it. If you’re surrounded by stress and negativity, it probably doesn’t feel like that. That’s why we’re so obsessed with our Jool sandwich of joy/challenge/joy to bring out the best in kids by pushing them to an incredibly high intellectual level without making them feel miserable! Elite achievement doesn’t require stress.
Mistake #3 - Start early and start big
Human personalities are almost fully formed at about 10 years of age. That means that by 4th grade/year 5 your child is almost fully formed as the person they’re going to be. That also means that their ability to learn languages becomes a bit more problematic beyond this age. It’s often the case that students who learn a language after this point never really become bi-lingual or native in it. It also means that you’ve got to use their natural ability to absorb knowledge by giving them something worth learning. Why teach children about daily routines when you can imagine life on another planet? Science, politics, economics and so much more are possible earlier than you might think.
Mistake #4 - Relying on memory
Learning versus memorisation is different. I’ve given students vocabulary tests in the past and, though they scored 100%, I almost NEVER heard them use the words on the test again. EVER! Memorising 1000 words but only ever using 100 seems like a bit of a waste of time. So, USE language, don’t memorise it. This is one of the reasons why we refuse to give vocabulary tests at Jool. It’s a bit of a shock to a lot of parents, but we don’t see value in them. Instead, we’d rather spend those 10 minutes discussing the ideas around the vocabulary or presenting with them. So, ask this. Am I asking my child to do vocabulary tests for their benefit or for mine? Do I feel better knowing they took a test or do they learn more? Not, do they memorise more. Do they learn more?
Mistake #5 - Stopping
Language learning is a lifelong endeavour. So, I often ask myself why a lot of parents spend so much money and time on language learning for their kids when they’re young, only to stop when they get beyond 5th grade. I’ve seen some amazing students regress so much because they simply stopped learning. When I started Jool, I always had a dream to create a curriculum for older kids to study that WASN’T simply test prep.
The Key Takeaway
I understand that helping your children to learn and keep a language is a never ending challenge. So, trust my experience and do the 5 things above. If you can’t do all of them, do one or two. They’ll help.