By Jo Blackmore, LearnEnglish Kids team, British Council

27 January 2024 - 06:27

Three girls in school are colouring with pencils and chatting in English
Three girls in school are colouring with pencils and chatting in English

1. Be enthusiastic and involved 

If you want to motivate your child to study English, it helps to be enthusiastic about the language yourself. If your child sees you reading English, watching films and speaking in English, they will be inspired to do the same. 

If you want to raise a good learner, don’t limit learning English to the classroom. Make using English part of daily life at home and actively involve yourself in your child’s English learning experience, rather than expecting them to study English on their own. By giving your child lots of encouragement and support you are developing an atmosphere of learning at home – and this will increase their self-confidence and motivation to learn English.

2. Make learning English fun and enjoyable for your child

Learning a language can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Try to incorporate an element of fun into your child’s English study activities. Children naturally love playing games, so find games that let your child practice their English and learn new vocabulary words or grammar. 

Another tip is to use children’s natural sense of competition as a motivator. For example the child who uses their first language least during the game is allowed to choose the next game!

You can find fun free games to help your children learn English on our LearnEnglish Kids website, they include card games such as Memory, action games such as Simon says, and board games such as Snakes and ladders 

3. Follow your child’s personality and interests to strengthen their self-motivation

When you are encouraging your child to practice their English, think about their personality and the things they like. Very active children may like to play action games, oir dance and sing in English while quieter children may prefer word games or watching videos in English. If your child likes sport, they will enjoy stories and vocabulary games. about sport. Again, you can find free games, interactive video, puzzles and songs on the British Council LearnEnglish Kids website. 

4. Let your child choose how they become a good learner

Let your child be in the driver’s seat now and then, so they feel self-motivated to learn English. This means allowing your child to pick situations and subjects they enjoy, and feel comfortable exploring in English. For example, you can encourage your child to read in English by choosing English books together at the library or bookshop, or they can listen to an English language podcast or radio show or read a digital book or watch a movie online. Letting them choose how they practice their English can increase their motivation to learn it. 

5. Judge your child’s mood and motivation times

Try to choose the right time to encourage your child to practise their English. They should be receptive and alert rather than tired, hungry or grumpy. So if you start an English time activity, and notice that your child is not motivated to learn, it is better to try again later rather than forcing them to continue. 

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6. Set up meaningful play situations to increase your child’s desire to learn  

A child’s motivation to learn English is based on their needs and desires – so if your child feels they have no need to learn English, they will not be motivated to study the language. 

But luckily, children love role-playing and using their imagination. Suggest some situations your child enjoys – like a visit to the shop, riding on the bus, or eating at a café. Ask your child to choose which make-believe game they want to play? Take turns playing the different roles, such as customer and retailer in the shop. This helps them naturally practice their English, and also allows you to give language support. For example, if your child asks a question in their first language, repeat what they have said, but in English. 

Make-believing a situation they enjoy gives your child an immediate need to use English. This increases their motivation to learn the language. A good tip is to make the make-believe game more meaningful by using real objects – arrange chairs to make a bus, or make a menu for your ‘restaurant’ at home. This increases your child’s involvement in the game. The more enthusiastically you play your role, the more motivated your child will be to learn English! 

7. Support your child’s schoolwork 

Children are often reluctant to do their homework or study for school tests. Establish a regular homework routine, but allow your child some choice in what time they study and where they sit to do their homework. Provide help and try to be supportive and encouraging. Praise your child for any effort they make, rather than criticising or scolding them. This helps your child develop self-confidence and a positive attitude. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to their teacher for advice – teachers are happy to share tips on how you can support your child’s learning. 

8. Use apps and online materials to surprise kids into learning

Even reluctant children are motivated to learn English using new technologies, such as apps. The British Council has several free apps for kids that can help children learn English. There are also songs, stories, videos, games and activities on the British Council LearnEnglish Kids website that are designed to help your child enjoy practising their English.  For example, if your child is reluctant to study English grammar, suggest that they use the grammar section for fun opportunities to practise and improve. 

You can use our search tool online to find exactly what you are looking for.  

9. Share the learning experience 

Sharing the learning experience with family and friends will motivate your child to study. Encourage older children to help their younger siblings practise their English. Having a role of responsibility is highly motivational for kids. Or ask your child to show you how to use the app – digitally-native children love showing their parents how to use technology! 

Why not let your child choose an English film and invite some friends or family to watch it? Arrange chairs to turn your living room into a cinema! Making invitations and tickets gives them an opportunity to practise English writing and makes the experience more fun. Many children enjoy performing. Suggest that they put on a play or puppet show or sing some English songs for the family

10. Find ways for your child to communicate with others in English 

When your child has a genuine reason to communicate in English, they naturally have a high level of motivation to learn. If possible, find an English-speaking playgroup in your area, or activities for children in English. Encourage your child to write an email, letter or postcard to an English-speaking friend or relative. Because a child who enjoys using English will be naturally self-motivated to practice and study.  

You can also help your child to register on LearnEnglish Kids, where they can post comments and interact with other users in a safe online environment.