Archive for 2010

December 18th, 2010

Vocabulary Building-Clothing

Some of the basic teaching techniques you will want to use to help your child learn vocabulary skills include;

  • Get the child’s attention
  • Aim the teaching at or just above the chid’s level
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Keep it fun
  • Use lots of positive feedback

If you use Ready for R for teaching vocabulary, you will find it meets most of the above criteria.  As an example, you may want to focus on teaching the names of clothing.  The pictures and stories in Ready for R are fun, so that will go a long way to keep the child focussed and ready to learn. I find that children want to read the stories over many times. When teaching about clothing, don’t forget to talk about what the child himself is wearing.  Talk about what you wear in different weather.  Using Ready for R you can talk about what bakers wear as well as race car drivers, pirates etc.   Include discussion of  things that go on clothing such as; zippers, laces, buttons, hood, snaps.  Talk about other things that are worn; helmet, earrings, glasses etc.  Shoes make a good topic because there are so many different kinds.  Here are a few to think about; flip-flops, runners, sneakers, high-heels, flats, sandals. Activity: Older children enjoy the memory game; I’m Going on a Trip.  The first student says, “I’m going on a trip and in my bag I packed ___”. The second student has to repeat what the first one said and add another item of clothing.  Whoever forgets something in the list is out.  The game continues until everyone is out. Variation: To make it more challenging say “I’m going to the beach__” or “I’m going on a mountain___”. Worksheets: To extend your teaching, you may want to use these cut-outs designed by the Ready for R illustator.  Silvana Bevilacqua has kindly allowed me to share them with you and your child or students. You’ll recognize the adorable Ronald and Ronalda from the Rhinoceros family in Ready for R. If you’re interested in other cut-outs, check out this website:

November 30th, 2010

Vocabulary Views

If you look carefully at Ready for R you’ll notice that there are themes to help you develop vocabulary skills.  These are some common vocabulary themes for early language  and second language learners that you might want to check out:

Food-        Rolling Radishes

Tools-        Runaway Robot

Clothing-  Rhinoceros Family

Christmas-Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Some vocabulary themes are throughout the book such as, animals, actions and transportation.   To teach action words, read the poems out loud.  Stop when you get to an action word and talk about what it means.  Have the child look at the picture and name the actions.  Here are a few words you’ll find in the book:  sitting, reading, cooking, fishing, swimming, driving, standing, climbing, wrestling, rocking, raining, falling, wrapping, singing and don’t forget blowing raspberries.

Teaching tips: Here are a couple of games to make learning action words fun:

Charades:  Each child can choose an action to act out in front of the group-no words.   You can also whisper a word to the child or have them written on a small piece of paper that the child chooses.  Whoever guesses the action gets to perform the next one.

Simon Says: One child is the leader.  The leader says “Simon says_” (jump or clap your hands etc.).  All the other children perform the action, unless the leader omits the “Simon says” part.   Anyone who does the action when the leader says just “sit” for example is out.  The last remaining person is the next leader.

November 20th, 2010

Language Learning Problems? Ready for R Can Help.

It’s often said that children are able to learn a language easier than adults. Just think though, if you spent most of your days soaking up the language around you for 4 years, you’d be able to communicate pretty well too.  On the other hand, not all children learn language easily.  For some children language difficulties are part of other learning problems.  Other children just seem to be late to talk.  Whatever the reason, research shows that one of the best predictors of success in school is oral communication ability.

How do you know if your child has language difficulties?  School age children shouldn’t make any errors when talking.  For younger children these are the guidelines:

AGE:                 SHOULD HAVE

12 months:      First words, “mama”, “up”.

2 years:             2 words together, “big ball”.

3 years :            3- word phrases, “I go park”.

4 years:             4, 5, 6- word sentences, “The boy falled”.

5 years               Adult-like sentences. Few errors.

Ready for R was designed to help with speech sounds and also language development. Learning language means learning vocabulary (words) and how to put the words together so they make sense (grammar).  Although  grade 3 is the target level, the vocabulary and interest level works for preschoolers  as well as  English as a Second Language learners up to about age 10.

How can you help your child?  If you think your child has language learning problems seek help from a speech-language pathologist for an assessment.  In the meantime there are lots of things parents and teachers can do to help develop language skills.

Language teaching tip #1: Be a good language model. That doesn’t mean you should talk to your 3 year old as if he was an adult, but make sure you use complete sentences. Speak clearly and not too fast.  Children learn to talk by imitating you.

Tune in to the next blogs for more language teaching techniques and activities.

November 2nd, 2010

More Than a Book

Wether it’s our first or second language, we all learn it by actively talking and listening. I’m always surprised by how many parents who speak English as a second language think that their child will learn English by watching T.V.    There is no magic computer program to teach you English, you have to get out there and communicate. Reading a book with a child can be a wonderful way to teach vocabulary and grammatical skills.  I don’t think anything yet can replace what children can learn from books.  This Youtube video says it all:

Ready for R was designed to be enjoyed just as it is-a book of poems with fun pictures and a book useful for helping children with the R sound.  On top of that though it was organized by common themes so it would also be helpful for vocabulary and grammar development.  Ready for R can be used in an ESL classroom or for a child who is language delayed. Each picture is so interesting that kids want to talk about them.  Each picture can lead to many other topics and themes. Here’s an example;

Teaching tip: Rolling Radishes features a girl carrying a load of groceries, but many of them are falling out of the bag. The theme could be grocery shopping.  Have a fun session by bringing in empty food boxes, monopoly money and grocery bags.  Each child could bring in one fruit or vegetable that they like to eat. This leads to interesting conversation especially in an ESL class.  Work on food vocabulary, but also have them act out grocery shopping. Talk about the sequence of activities you do in a grocery store.