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Learning English as a Second Language – For Preschoolers!

Please use this resource page to help promote development of VOCABULARY, SIMPLE SENTENCES, and SOCIAL INTERACTIONS with children who are learning to speak English during their preschool years.

English Vocabulary Categories:

Simple Sentences:

Social Interactions:

Preschool Songs:

Tips For Parents:

  • Research has shown that bilingual children who do best in school are those who have had a strong grounding in their home language, perhaps including development of literacy in that language, before being exposed to a second language (Collier, 1987).
  • Children learning two or more languages may need more time to start talking and to develop overall expressive language skills. Yet, the end result is an understanding of one’s culture, improved self-esteem, a greater sense of community, and possibly more complex thinking skills (Rosenberg, 2002).

Other points to keep in mind:

  • Be consistent. Use one language at a time rather than using two or more languages in the same sentence or conversation. It is o.k. for children to mix languages during the learning process. However, adults should model each language individually to help the child distinguish between the two.
  • Give plenty of opportunities. The more a child is exposed to a language, the better he/she will become at using and understanding it. For example, if more time is spent using English (vs. Chinese), you can bet that the child will become more fluent in English. So, make sure to balance both languages.
  • Slow down. Try not to talk so fast. This doesn’t just apply to parents of bilingual children. Kids will have a much easier time picking up on what they hear if you just speak at a slower pace.
  • Keep it simple. Use language that your child can understand. If he/she is using 1-2 words at a time (e.g. “Cookie!”), try modeling a slightly longer 2-3 sentence (e.g. “Want cookie?” or “Cookie please.”). Also, model words that will be useful in his/her everyday life.
  • Story time. Read books in each language to help your child develop reading skills while building vocabulary, sentence structure, phonemic awareness, and learning about the related culture.
  • Play time. Allow your child play opportunities with same age peers in both languages to encourage social interaction and to learn play routines in both languages simultaneously.  It will help them to build vocabulary, social skills, and an understanding age appropriate play skills.
  • Communicate. Share your concerns regarding your child’s language development with your child’s teacher.  Consider volunteering in the classroom to share your own cultural traditions with all the children and to see what your child is learning in his/her classroom to help with home practice.