How to be an English Teacher At Home
Teaching English at home might seem like an unconquerable task. From reading comprehension to essay writing, there is a lot of work to be done. However, developing your child’s English skills at home might be far easier than think. Here are three simple things you can do at home to help ensure your child’s success in English.
Read, Read, Read!
Encourage your child to read by making them engage with at least two different forms of written media every day. This doesn’t have to be a chapter of War and Peace – a magazine article, a poem, an email, or even a recipe would suffice. Ask them what they like or dislike about the way it is written. Is it informative? Is it Funny? Is it boring? What words stand out to them? Have them pick out a sentence and re-word it to make it sound scary, or sad, or any other way you can think of. This will only take ten minutes, but will have them reading, thinking, and writing in new ways.
The prospect of being stuck at home with grumpy teenagers and hyperactive eight-year-olds might seem daunting, but fear not! There is a way to turn that lockdown angst into discursive gold: the art of debate.
Rather than bicker about who gets dibs on the TV remote, children can debate and stake their claim constructively. See how convincing they can make their argument and what evidence they can provide to support their points of view. If they want an extra hour on the iPad, have them make their argument as convincing as possible. If they want pizza for tea, have them explain the potential benefits to try to convince you to order in.
Encouraging students to debate and engage in such discussions, however silly, can help strengthen and develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. Such skills can be applied to almost every aspect of English, from discursive essay writing to non-fiction writing tasks.
Read and Watch Between the Lines
Deduction and Inference are key tenets of literary analysis, and the development of these skills forms a central part of the English curriculum. Perfecting these skills at home, however, takes little more than a casual discussion. A simple conversation about your child’s favourite book character will encourage them to synthesise information and make relevant inferences. Ask them about this character and why they like them –what sort of person are they? What about this character’s actions indicate this? Students will have to consider the context surrounding specific events or the actions of their chosen characters to form relevant and evaluative inferences.
Crucially, this does not have to be limited to the written word. Cinema can be a great way to get students thinking about authorial intention and effect. A director is a like a writer: every camera shot and action sequence is designed to make us feel and respond in a certain way. Discussing these kinds of things with your child while they watch their favourite film can help them better understand the implications of a writer’s description and characterisation.
Comprehension, as both a skill and a practice, can be honed through this kind of questioning and enquiry. Aligning this with your child’s interests is a great way to keep them engaged and to help advance their interpretive abilities.
Written by our Education Director, Alice, who specialises in English up to undergraduate level.