Ways to support your child’s English Diction at home

By Olubukola R.B Agbalaya

More and more parents want their children to learn the correct manner in which English words are pronounced earlier enough.

I often meet parents of children as young as two or three who say that proficiency in speaking English will help their children get ahead in a globalized world.

In other words, the sooner a child get started to learning the correct pronunciation of English words, the better.

In Nigeria today, most parents pay for their kids Diction classes, which is commendable.  However, learning and practicing at school isn’t enough to improve a child’s English pronunciation.

Children need to speak and practice English Diction at home to get favorable results. Parents play a critical role in a child’s language development, and the single most important factor in a  child’s success in English pronunciation is the parents’ interest and encouragement, no matter the child’s age.

So what can parents do at home to support their children’s English pronunciation?  Here are few tips.

1. Learn and pronounce  English words correctly yourself

To build a positive attitude towards learning, and towards English as a language, the best place to start is with ourselves.

Remember, children’s minds are like sponges, they suck in and learn everything they see, taste, smell, and hear.

A child starts to learn from when he can perceive sounds. From then on, the child will try to imitate what he had heard.

That’s why parents should talk to children with proper pronunciation of words.

Most parents pay for diction classes in school, but what’s stopping you from enrolling on a diction course too?

Learning the pronunciation yourself will help you reinforce what your child had learnt. It helps you know when and how to correct your child when he makes pronunciation mistakes.

It helps create a positive attitude towards learning English pronunciation and speaking with proper diction.

By learning and using English pronunciation yourself, you can show your kids that  ‘having a go’ and making a mistake is better than only speaking when you have the perfect pronunciation.

And lastly, it helps you create the right environment. The more a child is exposed to an environment with people pronouncing clearly, and rightly the more he is likely to comprehend.

Your child’s speech will mirror yours.

2. Emphasize the Importance

Making the time and effort to speak English with proper diction when communicating with your children sends a very clear message – “learning English pronunciation is important and I want you to speak with proper diction”.

That message can make a meaningful difference in how children approach learning English pronunciation.

It can raise their confidence,  make them put more effort and focus better.

3. Make sure the programmers, cartoons, or music they watch and listen to pays attention to proper pronunciation

One of the main ways of developing language is through listening and repetition. By watching programmed/cartoons on the TV that pays attention to pronunciation, and listening to music with proper pronunciation, your child unconsciously learns word pronunciations.

They can even learn by imitating their favorite character in a cartoon. Cartoons like poppa pig, Sofia the first, Oliver twist, etc.. can help.

You can download some apps on your phone to help your child as well.

I recently met a little boy who has never been in school and I was impressed with how he speaks with proper diction.

Upon asking, the mother confessed that he learnt it from cartoons and movies.

4. Never criticize your child’s articulation or speech patterns

Instead, consciously repeat his statements to him with the correct pronunciation. Give your child plenty of praise and encouragement for his efforts, and always motivate him.

5. Help your child practice

While practice may not make perfect, it definitely makes improvement.

That’s true for any subject, and the more complex the subject is, the more important it is to practice regularly. English pronunciation is definitely a complex subject.

Help your child practice by communicating with him/her using proper diction and encourage him/her to do the same.

6. Scrutinize your child’s interaction with others

Having put the above-mentioned measures in place, ensure that your child speaks right with others and they reciprocate.

If your child spends more time with your maid who can’t communicate properly in English or your child have friends whom they play with often that are bad English users, there are tendencies that your child’s diction can be influenced negatively.

Considering the benefits of speaking with proper diction, I implore you to try these tips and, believe me, there would be definite improvement in your child’s English pronunciation.

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