My dear friend has decided to follow my footsteps and become an EAL step-mommy. She’s suddenly learning a new language and trying to help a kiddo find fun and non-stressful ways of learning English. We talk a lot about what it is like to come into a new situation with only one parent knowing both languages. Here are some online suggestions for both the new language learning parent and the kids.
For the kids:
Muzzy: yes, seriously the old BBC tv program from the 80s. My kids love it. Today it also has some computer games attached to it. I’m not in love with the games because, truth be told, they are pretty lame. However, Muzzy is as endearing as ever and my 8 year olds will act out dialogues between the characters. They prefer Muzzy to almost any other online option. As a parent, I appreciate that it starts with assuming that the kids have no knowledge of English and works up from there. – ($10 a month)
Anglomaniacy: This functions as online picture and spoken dictionary. It does have worksheets, games, and stories that can be printed. It isn’t as easy to follow as Muzzy but it does give the kiddos the option of learning the vocabulary that they want in the order that they want. – (free)
ESL Games +: This is definitely more of a teacher site than a parent site, but if you stay within the games section you can choose vocabulary and games that the kids can play. They have a lot of online and printable options so play around a bit and see what suits your kiddos. – (free)
For the adults:
Duolingo: I swear by this one. Use it on the computer or download the app on your phone. The phone version will make you listen to language and transcribe it as well as gaining a lot of vocabularly. The computer version gives you short grammar lessons and pronunciation practice. It paces the learning in a non-overwhelming way and it teaches you in sentences. Which means it teaches how you use the words in context. Honestly, this app is amazing and it is free. (I used this in my classroom as a free choice activity for my 10 year olds students. They loved it and competed against me.) – (free)
Memrise: This is a user uploaded app and site. I love the variety of the vocabulary you will encounter but word to the wise … it is straight up flash card memorization. It doesn’t do more than increase your vocabulary but, it can give you more vocabulary than duolingo. – (free)
For both of you:
Youtube – if your child has a favorite character or tv series, odds are in our globalized world that there might be an English (or the other language) version of that show. The younger the audience it is geared for the better, since the characters will repeat words a lot and use a lower vocabulary. Even though my kids are 8 and well past Mickey Mouse Clubhouse days, they can take on the challenge of short snippets in English. Sesame Street clips are very useful, as well. Honestly, their stamina for the new language works better with the short clips that are available on youtube. I challenge myself back by watching Phineas and Ferb in Danish. They love the back and forth of learning that this creates. Good luck with your family’s language learning!