Good morning! The more you push your children into speaking English, the more they’ll dislike it. I’m no child psychologist, but I do know that anything that is forced upon you is not very palatable (pleasant). Just leave the kids alone, they’ll learn English on their own. It is a necessity and with time your kids will recognise the need to learn English and will pick it up quickly.

The other day, one of my students asked me, “Madam, which is the best way to learn a subject, mugging up (to cram, Gujarati – gokhvu, Hindi – ratna) or understanding the concept and then putting it down in your own words?”

My obvious answer was, “Understanding the concept and then putting it down in your own words.” This, in my opinion, is the best way because this method will let the concept remain in your memory for a very long time. Cramming an answer has two disadvantages, one – you don’t understand the concept and two – the answer remains in your memory only till the exam lasts.

Strange as though it may sound, there are some schools which insist on cramming up answers that the teacher makes the whole class write… and God save the kids of such schools as not only do they have to learn sickeningly long answers, but are also not allowed to add or delete a word on their own.

I don’t know about other subjects, but English cannot and should not be learnt like this. You’ve got to let the child read the story or any other piece of English writing and let him or her frame his or her own answers. It doesn’t matter if the answer is childlish (even Shakespeare’s first piece of writing might not have been very intelligible). The more elderly help a child gets, the more beating his or her creativity in expressing himself or herself in English will take.

These are some of the ways by which you can make your child enjoy learning English:

♦ Make your child go around the house and tell him or her to name everything in English (furniture, clothes, etc) and tell your child to look up for words he or she doesn’t know.

♦ Buy an English board game (like Monopoly or Scrabble).

♦ Kids love it when parents are a part of their activities. Promise to do so. make sure the entire conversation during the game is in English. (They’ll resist initially, but I’m sure you know the best way of dealing with your child.)

♦ Let your child watch English cartoons and movies, like Home Alone or Baby’s Day Out or even Harry Potter.

A query now:

What’s a Limerick?

Limerick is a short poem of five lines (it’s actually a non-sense verse [rhyme]). It usually tells a story and is kind of funny, and its first, second and fifth lines rhyme with each other.

Something like this:

Be good, be nice
Don’t indulge in any vice
Said mother to her son
And the son promptly replied,
“I will, if you let me eat some more ice.”

By the way, Limerick is also a place in the Republic of Ireland.

Try writing a limerick and send it to me.

Keep smiling…

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