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6 Effective Ideas to Stimulate Your Child’s Social Skills through English Learning by the British Council

          Do you remember learning English as a child? Being forced to focus on grammar and writing, rather than speaking? At the British Council, we believe that speaking forms the basis of a good English education, which is essential to improving English skills overall. Imagine how you would feel if you had the chance to learn English in a fun and relaxing atmosphere, but at the same time learn about the environment, sport, travel and other fun topics whilst carrying out engaging tasks with your classmates. 
          The British Council, the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities understands the importance for children to develop knowledge and skills at primary age to help to form their personalities and outlook on the world. The role that parents assume in the process of learning is crucial as well to consolidate learning and develop the confidence for the children. Below are six effective ideas from the British Council, on how you can help to develop your child's speaking and social skills, through the learning of practical English at home, based on the topic of "The Environment" as inspiration:
          Creativity: Try baking cookies or cakes with your child. Whilst practising the names of the ingredients, you could also talk about how cooking at home helps to reduce the use of plastic containers and bags. You could also try asking for alternative suggestions to the recipe; this would help to develop their creativity but also reinforce their confidence that their opinions matter. 
          Problem Solving: Imagine that one weekend your child wakes up with an inspiration to do arts and crafts. You could build a windmill and put it on the balcony or take it to the park to see if it works. Another idea would be to use recycled materials to build an eco-friendly model house. You could support your child's English learning by helping them to practice the names of the materials in English and get them to discuss with you possible solutions in English. In addition to the enjoyment of doing an entertaining activity in English with your child, it will help them to understand how inventions can help save energy. 
          Imagination: We cannot consider this quality without mentioning reading skills. We recommend titles like Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish (by Michael Foreman) and What if? (by Mick Manning, Brita Granstroem and Franklin Watts). Both of these books provide the perfect excuse to practice the names of animals and recyclable objects in English. Also, they serve as a platform to discuss the following challenge: "what would you do to save the planet?" You could ask your child to explain some ideas in English and show you what they mean through a drawing to help their creativity flow, no matter what their level is. 
          Citizenship: Make posters with your child that incorporate ideas in English about how to help reduce the use of water, save energy at home or organize the recycling. As you work on this project, you could ask them to consider why it is important to take care of the environment and show respect for the resources we use.
Critical thinking: This is, without doubt, one of the activities that will allow you and your child to learn together. You can find many articles and activities on the BBC webpage (www.bbc.com/education). You could talk to your child about the pros and cons of the ideas on the webpage. This will, again, support their reading skills and help them to understand that different points of view can exist about the same topic and encourage them to form their own ideas.
Digital literacy: Why not go to the park with your child and play "I spy" with the insects and plants in the park. Afterwards, you could ask your child to choose their favourite then find out more information together on the internet to make a poster. As you are doing this activity, in addition to supporting the development of structures and vocabulary in English, you could provide an example of good internet use. You could explain the importance of choosing appropriate webpages to search for information. 
          These activities are just an example of the extra layer of learning from the Primary Plus course that can take place when English is not only used as the outcome, but also the vehicle to support the holistic development of primary aged children. The Primary Plus course is a seven-level course for learners in Kindergarten to Prathom 6 (Grade 6), that is designed to promote all aspects of your child's English language skills and their development as a whole. The course will provide a natural and motivating foundation for the learning of English.
          For more information on British Council's Primary Plus course, please visit www.britishcouncil.or.th/en/english/children or tel. 02-657 5678