Strategies to Encourage Kindergarten Language Acquisition
written by: Audrey Alleyne
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 8/2/2012
Kindergarten language acquisition is one of the most crucial stages of a child’s learning process. Total immersion in the language with a native speaker should be the goal of an effective language program.
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As this original German word indicates, kindergarten is a child’s garden. It is a garden of learning and games and fun. At kindergarten, children will continue with kindergarten language acquisition in the following ways; visually, kinesthetically and also through auditory processes. Class activities will include educational games, story telling, reading and writing, role play and field trips. Children will learn how to name people and objects; they will learn to describe size, color shape and texture of objects; and they will learn how to make comparisons. Videos play a great role in helping children learn, since they are able to associate the picture with the action and automatically enunciate the words, even if they doesn’t see the actual words. The same process applies to their acquisition of a second language. The more proficient they are at their native language at an early age, the better they will be able to adapt to learning a second language.
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A great start to having children speak and communicate with each other is to have them talk about themselves; they like doing this. They can talk about their friends and their families. Those who have pets will enjoy talking about them. They can also talk about their hobbies, such as their swimming, music and sport activities among others. Most children feel comfortable speaking about these familiar subjects and it allows them different ways in which to express themselves.
Encourage children to take turns when speaking and to listen when others are speaking. Teach them how to ask questions and how to give answers. Encourage them to retell parts of a story that has been read aloud by you the teacher or by another child. Teach them prepositions and directions and have them do role play with these in or out of the classroom. For example, have them ask each other “Where is the eraser?" Sample answer: “It is under the desk." And “Excuse me, where is the Ibis Hotel?" Sample answer: “Go straight ahead, turn left, and the hotel is on your right."
In order for the kindergarten classroom environment to effectively nourish a child’s speaking and listening skills, it must be alive with social interaction. Development of their oral skills must be stressed, and role play of real life situations and story telling are of utmost importance here.
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Taking the children on field trips to a park or a shopping center, and pointing out names of people and places, then asking them to do the same adding descriptions, is an ideal method of encouraging them to think, use their imagination and speak. Field trips also encourage the learning of a wealth of vocabulary, since the child wants to speak ad lib, and would be motivated to ask the teacher for words he does not know.
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The oral language also forms a part of the early writing process. On return from a field trip, it is a good exercise for children to draw pictures of what they saw and write short paragraphs of what they experienced. They can then compare their stories with each other as they read them to the class.
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Develop their use of language structure both orally and written. Teach them to use connectors such as “if, so, because, and then." Also teach sentence openers like “Well..." and “Okay…" Observe that they articulate their speech sounds correctly and that they speak clearly and fluently.