Reading in English – even for three-year-olds? You might wonder how a child who can’t read in German could possibly read in English. Of course, recognising words and actual reading will have to wait a couple of years, even for very smart children. However, children LOVE learning new things, and learning something in a language that is new for them – English – brings the feeling of accomplishment to your child that will make them want to learn more and more.
What to read with your child?
Apart from reading simple books for children (which there are plenty available everywhere), one type of book that your child will definitely enjoy is a picture dictionary.
First of all, picture dictionaries include many topics that your child is already familiar with, such as house, toys, family and food. They also encourage your child’s natural curiosity with topics your child is interested in, like wild animals, vehicles, dinosaurs and technology.
How to use a picture dictionary to most effectively learn English language vocabulary?
First, let me tell you something: if you offer a picture dictionary to a child and tell them to study the pictures, they will NOT be interested. As I mentioned in the previous blog article - Why and how to learn English at a young age - children learn through play. And it’s easy to play with a picture dictionary!
How to have fun with a picture dictionary?
When it comes to playing, a picture dictionary offers many different possibilities:
- At first, try simple “look and find” games which will help them learn the words quickly. For example, the parent can use both the English and the German word, while the child points at the picture in the book.
- Once the child is familiar with the meaning of the words, the next step can be a “speed find” game where the parent uses only the English word, while the child points at the picture as fast as they can. Here the parent can introduce the phrase “Where is the…?” as it doesn’t require of the child to produce the word yet.
- After this step, the parent can ask questions such as “What is your favourite… (animal, fruit…)?”, where the child needs to say the word in English.
- Once the child knows all the words and groups well, you can try guessing games, in which you either describe an object (“It’s a big animal. It can swim.”) or act it out (you hop like a kangaroo). Or you can try and find as many objects from the book as possible in your own home.
The possibilities are endless. However you want to use it, a picture dictionary is an amazing way of building your vocabulary, and giving your child a feeling that they can read. Also, it makes learning English fun!
It is important to start with learning foreign languages as early as possible.
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