To train your child to speak fluently, you have to do more than just skip the baby talk.
The Little Miss talks and, boy, does she talk a lot. But what most people find amazing is how articulately she speaks. It’s not any training or extra tuition or enrichment that I’ve sent her to. Here are some tips to help train your child to speak properly – you’ll be surprised how easy it is!
Always speak properly. Kids are like sponges and they learn by example. So it goes without saying that if you speak to your child properly, that’s what they’ll learn and that’s what they’ll use. Since Little Miss was born, I always speak to her in full sentences. I’ve never indulged in baby talk with her, or given nicknames to any of her toys or items. Everything is called as it is, and everything is described as it should be.
Talk. A lot. Like I mentioned earlier, Little Miss talks a lot – as do I. I always encourage her to tell me how she’s feeling and ask whatever question is on her mind. This also means that I try to answer all her questions with proper explanations. It doesn’t always work out though, because sometimes the answers just aren’t enough for her! “But why is that man going there, Mum?” “What has he got in his bag?” “Where is he taking it to?” “Why?” My mum says it’s payback time. Apparently, I used to do the same to her when I was Little Miss’ age. Well, at least one mother is amused.
Watch the good stuff. Choosing the sort of TV programmes your child watches also makes a big difference. Try to avoid shows that feature gibberish-speaking characters, like Teletubbies.
Bedtime stories. Stories are a wonderful way for kids to get a feel of how words come together to form something so enjoyable. And it also gives them a chance to learn words in the right context plus stir up their imagination.
Correct them. But in a gentle, non-condescending way, of course. When they’re saying new words for the first time, it’s important that you make sure they pronounce it as correctly as possible. And, let them know what the word means – it’s easier for them to remember the word when they know what it means and how to use it.
Make it fun. Recently, Little Miss and I have been learning new languages. It happened quite by accident when I thought she’d be tickled by how we say “I love you” in German (Ich liebe dich, in case anyone wants to know). Since then she’s asked me to find out more words for her in a few different languages. I repeat the words slowly to her, say them as phonetically as possible and even spell them out. These language lessons have turned out to be a great parent-child bonding session as well. Once, Little Miss asked what light in German is. After I told her it is “licht”, she asked, “Lick? Like this?” then proceeded to lick me on the knee. To this day, whenever she sees lights, she’ll stick out her little tongue!
About the author: Deborah Giam is a full-time digital native, having worked and played in the online world for most of her life. Her second job is mother to a precocious four-year-old who loves dinosaurs, airplanes and Hello Kitty. Forget designer labels she’s happiest in an old-school world shooting with film, traveling the world and exploring new places. See more of her travels and photographs at www.livinglavidaholga.wordpress.com.