Cannons ESOL, Nancy Toney


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Top 10 Tips for Parents of English Language Learners



10.  Make sure your child is prepared for school.  This means they are getting plenty of rest and assistance on homework assignments.  If you are unable to provide your student with homework assistance, look into programs within your school to help your child.

9.  Work with your child's teacher.  Talk about problems you've noticed, progress that's been made and ask questions about what they think may help your child.

8. When your child is having difficulty understanding schoolwork in English explain concepts in your home language first.  Once they understand, you can work on the concept in English.


7.  Encourage your children to be proud of your heritage.  Find ways for them to incorporate their knowledge of in their classroom (like on class projects).  Encourage them to read and write in your home language.  Books in different languages can be found at the public library, on and other online book retailers.


6. If your stay in the U.S. is not permanent, encourage your child to learn all he or she can while here.  Remind them that learning English is not to replace what they already know but instead is to enhance it.  Talk to them about their feelings about being in a different place. Negative feelings can have a huge impact on what is learned.  Help your children feel pride in themselves and their heritage.      


5.  Have fun with language!  Play games such as Scrabble and Boggle to help with English spelling.  Use I SPY and ABC Books to increase vocabulary in a fun way.  Read the comics in both languages and play games where you think of words in one language and your child has to think of the same word in the other language.

4. Help your child to focus on understanding of books as well as pronouncing the words.  Encourage your child to read and read again, in your home language and in English.


3.  Your child should be reading books for pleasure at an easy independent level.  Encourage them to do this by doing so yourself.  These can be in either language or any type of reading: magazines, comics, graphic novels, newspapers, and even online articles.  Use every sign, billboard, or menu as an example of reading.

2.   Tell your child how important you think school is and encourage him or her to participate in class.  Then point out ways you use education daily.  Examples could be reading for pleasure, using money in stores, or how you use science, math and language at your job.


1.  You need to find a balance in using both English and your home language in your home.  When children never hear their home language after they begin school then they begin to lose that language.  Bilingual people have more options in our world so your goal should be that your child know both languages well.  You should have books in both languages, and watch television in both languages.  There might be certain activities where it is more appropriate to use one language or the other and that won't create problems.  Above all don't make your child feel embarrassed or ashamed of either language.  No language is better than another but it is important to learn English in order to do well in the United States.


Links for parents:  this site has a lot of information on how to help your child in school as well as how to do well in your community.  this site contains children's songs from around the world.  Use it to learn rhymes in your language and English.  This site contains childrens books from around the world.  These books have been scanned into the computer and can be read in a variety of languages.  this site asks a question, a "wonder", each day and then provides information as well as an activity to explore this question.  What a great way to connect with your child and what they are learning in school!  this site might be more advanced than your child but if you need assistance learning English it is a wonderful site with listening activities to help learn grammar.