By Shimmi Sharma
As an English teacher, I have worked in a private school in Lahartara Varanasi, the holy city of India for ten years. While this doesn’t automatically make me an expert, I have certainly gained plenty of experience and the one thing of which I am totally convinced is that as teachers, we should always attempt to enlarge the vocabulary of our students and particularly if those students are children and encourage them to use this vocabulary as much as possible.
It I have been found that children with more expansive vocabularies achieve better grades in school. These children are able to think more deeply, express their emotions and thoughts better and learn new things faster than others.
How to improve our children’s vocabulary.
One of the best ways to improve our students’ word bank is to read aloud. When we do this, children learn more words, sharpen their pronunciation skills and increase their comprehension skills in an enjoyable way.
Fiction and non-fiction books can open the door to the unexplored, unknown and the unimagined, creating a boundless expanse of knowledge and creativity.
1.Talking to children: English communication should mean COMMUNICATION.
In a language class, although children cannot be allowed to just shout out anytime anywhere, they should not also be expected to sit quietly and just listen. Lessons should be interactive and conversation should be promoted whenever possible. The teacher is the powerful construction engineer of the language who begins to lay down the foundations of the language as soon as the child starts school. From there it is her job to build scaffolding on which vocabulary can grow.
2. Repetition: As a language teacher, I believe we should talk to the children in a way which is a step above their language level in order to stretch them.
If we introduce new words and repeat them often in the course of teaching and conversation, they are gradually infused into their word bank very easily without the tedious effort of rote learning. But be sure to select words that relate to our children’s existing vocabulary and knowledge base.
3. Role models: Children love to imitate their teachers…sometimes they mock us too, it’s all natural.
However, we must never forget that we are their role models and given the chance they are going to copy our words and our actions. This is in itself quite a responsibility, as it means that we must be constantly aware of the words we use, the style we adopt and that our words and actions can either motivate or demotivate. Our energy will in turn energize them and our fascination with words books and stories will hopefully be an inspiration to them.
4. Nonverbal communication
They say that you speak with our voice but you converse with your body. Therefore as teachers, it is important that we use our own body language to enforce and enhance what we say with our voice in order for our children to have the confidence to do the same. That way whatever vocabulary they have will be used to its best advantage.
5. Building confidence to speak.
We should always remember to respond positively to our children’s attempt to talk whenever possible because it is the first step in building their self-confidence; criticism can negate confidence. We should try always encourage and validate our children’s attempt at communication, giving praise where possible.
In this way, our children will become language competent, which means they will be able to use their linguistic knowledge in a second language to fulfill a range of purposes in communication.
People across the world do not talk only about fluency in English rather they focus on the expansion of the framework of communication competence. The goal has shifted from producing learners who can mimic the ‘inner-circle’ countries’ language, to effective language users who are competent in using English as an international language. But for this expertise, children still need to learn the linguistic code of grammar, as well as style and convention.
6. Reform, rethink, remove. There is an imminent need to reform the obsolete ways of teaching English in the classroom. Rote learning, non-interactive learning are now old-fashioned and restrictive, as is testing by examination to some extent, but arguing the latter is best left to another future article. Language learning is a two way process and as such should be allowed to flow back and forward from student to teacher in a fluent and positive way which expands on all facets of the language In this way we are hopefully developing in our students a love of the language they are learning and a love of learning itself.