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Use Words To Teach Words

By: Reading Rockets

Students who comprehend the most from their reading are those who know a lot about words. These students know about word prefixes, suffixes, word roots, and multiple meanings of words. This knowledge expands their vocabulary, which helps when they encounter new words during reading. As students reach the upper elementary grades and the reading becomes more complex, word knowledge becomes even more important.

Families can help develop word knowledge through simple conversations focused on words. For example:


Start at the root

Begin with a simple root word, such as push. Ask your child to come up with words they know that contain that word, such as pushing, pushed, pushover, push-up. Talk about how all these words have some shared meaning related to the word push.


Multiple meanings

Many words have more than one meaning. While sitting at the dinner table, choose a word and brainstorm as many meanings and uses for the word as you can think of. Some words to start with: spring, frame, check, and light.


Consider the prefix

Numeric prefixes like bi- and tri- are a part of many words kids know and use. Discuss words like tricycle, tricep, and triangle. All these words share the prefix tri-, which means three. Can they develop a list of words that begin with the prefix bi- (like bicycle and binoculars)? This gives you a great chance to introduce new words, like bicentennial, bicep, and biped. You can generate similar word lists with the numeric prefixes uni, octo, and cent.

Word learning and vocabulary growth takes time and patience. Don’t expect your child to learn each new word after one conversation. True word learning happens after being exposed to words several times. We all learn about words throughout our lifetime. You’re getting your child off to a great start by developing an early interest in words.


Writing Poetry With English Language Learners

By: Kristina Robertson

Writing poetry is a great exercise for English language learners. It gives them a chance to experiment with language and vocabulary, and to freely share their ideas without the confinement of perfect grammar or firm structures. Many ELLs have also had rich life experiences that range from memories of their home culture to saying good-bye to loved ones and adjusting to a new life in the U.S. They may very well welcome this opportunity to create heartfelt poems to share with their classmates and family. Here are some suggestions for getting started:

  • Read a variety of poems first.

    I would recommend a couple of different kinds of poems before assigning any writing activities. For more ideas on how to start a unit on poetry, be sure to take a look at Introducing and Reading Poetry with English Language Learners. While the introduction doesn’t have to be too in-depth, giving students time to read and think about poems will help them feel more comfortable when it’s time to write.

  • Introduce different poetry forms as models.

    Read some poems that fit the structure or format, discuss unique rhyming or line patterns, and then have students try writing on their own, using the poems read in class as a model. Focus on each form before moving on to the next one so that students have a chance to master it.

  • Use poetry throughout the curriculum.

    You may also wish to use poetry writing as an activity in other content-area lessons, or trying having students write some of these poems as riddles that their classmates have to figure out.

My own knowledge of poetry forms was pretty limited before I began teaching poetry, but here are some poetry forms that work effectively with students, as well as some ideas of how to help students try their hand at writing! I recommend beginning with simple poetry styles such as the ones that follow, as these forms offer a lot of structure and students of all English levels will find them easier to work with.


Learning Two Languages

By: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Anyone can learn a new language. Some people find it easier than others, but all of us can do it. People who can use two languages are bilingual.
Children can learn to be bilingual. They can learn two languages at home, at school, or in the community. Some children learn both languages very well. But sometimes they know one language better than the other. The language a child knows better is called the dominant language. Over time the dominant language may change, especially if a child doesn’t use it regularly.
Speaking two languages is like any other skill. To do it well, children need lots of practice, which parents can help provide. Without practice, it may be difficult for children to understand or talk to people in both languages.
How do I teach my child to be bilingual?
There are a number of ways to teach children to speak more than one language. You can do the following:

  • Use two languages from the start. Many children grow up learning two languages at the same time.
  • Use only one language at home. Your child can learn the second language when he or she starts school.
  • Give your child many opportunities to hear and practice using both languages in everyday situations.

Will learning two languages cause speech or language problems?

No. Children all over the world learn more than one language without developing speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do.

What should I expect when my child learns more than one language?
Every bilingual child is unique. Developing skills in two languages depends on the quality and amount of experience the child has using both languages. The following are some basic guidelines:

  • Like other children, most bilingual children speak their first words by the time they are 1 year old (e.g., “mama” or “dada”). By age 2, most bilingual children can use two-word phrases (e.g., “my ball” or “no juice”). These are the same language developmental milestones seen in children who learn only one language.
  • From time to time, children may mix grammar rules, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence. This is a normal part of bilingual language development.
  • When a second language is introduced, some children may not talk much for a while. This “silent period” can sometimes last several months. Again, this is normal and will go away.

What resources can I use to help my child be bilingual?

  • Books
  • You can read to your child in both languages. You can find the books you need at bookstores, at libraries, and on the Internet.
  • Audiotapes and CDs
  • Tapes and CDs in other languages can help too. Singing is a great way to introduce a second language to your child, and it can be lots of fun!
  • Videotapes and DVDs
  • Children’s programs are available in many languages. These programs often teach children about numbers, letters, colors, and basic vocabulary.
  • Language programs
  • Children can also learn to be bilingual at language camps or in bilingual education programs. These give children the chance to use two languages with other children. Some school districts offer programs to help children learn another language from an early age.

 If my child is having trouble communicating, should we use only one language?
In this case, it’s best to talk to your child in the language you’re most comfortable with. This is true even if he or she uses a different language at school. But try not to make a sudden change in your child’s routine. This can be stressful. Children who are having problems in both languages may need professional help.


4 Ways English Will Change Your Life

By Ethan

If you’re reading this, then you are probably learning English, or at least considering starting. But WHY are you learning English? And what motivates you to keep learning?


Why Learn English?

Today we’re going to look at four ways that English will change your life. Some of these may already be motivators for you. Others may be reasons that have never even crossed your mind (that you’ve never thought of):


English is a Tool for Success

Many of my students learn English for one of the following reasons:

  • To get a promotion
  • To get a better job
  • To pass a test

Do you know what’s missing in this list?



Very few learners can say that their main motivation for learning is that they love the language or they are passionate about it. However, this is one of the best inspirations for learning a language! So it’s important to start with a fiery passion for the language, which will make you unstoppable in your learning!

That said, in a globalizing world, being able to communicate with people from other countries is more important than ever. And English just happens to be the most widely spoken language in the world.

Almost any international company is going to value employees that can speak English over ones that can’t, and for more and more jobs it’s a necessity! Plus, many companies will pay up to 20 percent more to someone who is multilingual.
By speaking English as a second language, you’ll be more open to ideas coming from other countries and markets, and this will make you an asset (valuable member) to practically any company.
And what about self-employment? If you’re fluent in English, so many opportunities open up to you, like teaching private classes, interpretation, translation, internships, and jobs abroad.
If you want to be more successful, then that’s a damn good reason to learn English; come at it with passion, and you will be implacable!


Meet People and Make Friends with English

What better reason to learn English is there than being able to connect with people all over the world? It’s definitely my top motivator!
You can make friends both online (internationally) and in your own city (locally) through English.



Start in an international community, like RealLife English. You can find support and inspiration from learners like yourself that are passionate about improving their English! You can make friends to talk with on Skype and practice speaking together and get all sorts of cool English learning resources.
You can even meet people in your own city with whom to practice your English. You may be able to find members in our community, or other English learning communities, that live near you.
If you’re really motivated to meet both native and non-native English speakers in your community, I recommend that you read this article.


Discover New Cultures Through English

Almost everywhere you go, you can encounter English: English music, television, movies, news, etc. This is because of the huge influence that American and British culture have all over the world.
Wouldn’t you like to understand the music that you and your friends enjoy? How about translating the lyrics for your friends and family? You’ll find that most people are very impressed with this.
In addition, watch movies and televisions shows in their original format – you’ll never have to put up with (tolerate) the annoying dubbed over shows where the words don’t fit the mouths’ movement.
If you get the chance to travel, you’ll be able to experience the local culture so much better if you can talk to and meet locals. Imagine visiting a new city and being able to ask a local about the best restaurants, must-see attractions, and the most fun pubs. Getting the local experience is so much better than
reading a guidebook. In fact, I never travel to a new country without knowing at least a few key phrases!


Become a Citizen of the World

Let’s move beyond semantics, learning a language often leads to self-development (that is, improving yourself and contributing to a better world).


Learning a second language makes it much easier to learn a third because you not only grow certain areas of your brain, but you also learn the strategies for learning languages that work the best for you. You get to know your own learning process, which can really help you in aspects of your life that you would never expect (for example, studies show that learning a second language makes you smarter and healthier).
Having a way to communicate with people from other parts of the world will help you to break down barriers like cultural differences, stereotypes, racism, and prejudice. Every day in the RealLife community we see people sharing and learning about each other’s cultures.
I honestly believe that if everyone in the world had a common language, we would learn that in essence, we’re all more similar than we are different. We’re all human beings, and few people would want go to war and kill people that are basically just like themselves.
So, do you want to foster peace in the world? Then learn English and become a citizen of the world!


Your Passport to the World

English truly is your passport to the world. It can make you more successful, help you meet really interesting people and make friends, discover new cultures, and become a citizen of the world.