ESOL Parents

Tips and information for ESOL parents

Reading at home

Make reading fun

Reading at home needs to be fun and easy – something you both look forward to, a time for laughter and talk.

  • find a comfortable, quiet place away from the TV for the 2 of you to cosy up and read for 10-15 minutes
  • if you or your child start to feel stressed, take a break and read the rest of the story aloud yourself – keep it fun
  • make some puppets – old socks, cardboard tubes, cut-outs on sticks – that you and your child can use to act out the story you have read. Or dress up and make it into a play
  • play card games (you can make the cards yourself)
  • read songs, waiata, poems and rhymes - sing them together, too.

Here's a tip - when they are reading, your child will still be coming across words they don’t know. When this happens, you could remind them to think about what they already know to do when they get stuck. If that doesn’t help you might ask

"What word would make sense that starts like that?" or "What do you know about that word that might help?"

If they still can’t work it out – tell them and praise their efforts.

Have fun

In the car or a walk-
  • say the numbers on letterboxes
  • skip count in 2's, 5's 10's
  • play 'I Spy'
  • choose a letter of the alphabet and say the sound it makes and a word that starts with it
At home-
  • talk about the time on the clock
  • cook/bake together- cut in half, add, measure, weigh
  • talk about- in, on, beside, in front, behind, under, between

    Helpful sites

    NZ-Asian kids struggle with cultural knowledge and heritage language
      - This article shows the value of retaining your own language and culture alongside learning English.
      - This is a New Zealand made app to help children with their reading.

    Contact Julie

      Some key messages to families are:

      • You are your child’s first and best teacher.
      • You have the skills and knowledge to help your child learn and grow.
      • Your wonderful language and experiences are gifts you can share.
      • Every moment, for a child, is a learning moment.
      • Speak to your children in your own home language. Do lots of talking about the things you are doing (cooking, cleaning, walking, gardening)
      • Talk in full sentences and use a variety of vocabulary
      • Make learning fun!

      Parents can help with learning at home

      1. Talk to your child in your own language about the English books they are reading.
      • Look through the book and talk about the illustrations/photos. What is happening? What is the meaning in the story?
      • Ask your child to read the English words and help them if possible.
      • Discuss any vocabulary or words giving full and rich meanings in your language. If necessary, look up the meanings of words together in a bilingual dictionary or on the internet.
      • Write down some of the English words that are new to your child.
      • Ask your child to tell you about the main ideas in the book in your own language.
      • Talk together about any ideas in the book that match your family experiences or your real life.
      • Can your child write about the story in your language?
      • Your child will like to read the same book many times. Have fun!
      2. Talk to your child in your own language about an activity or topic they are working on.
      • Look at the activity together. Talk about the questions or expectations in your own language and/or English, whichever is easier for you. What is the activity or topic about?
      • Find some information from the internet or family members in your own language so you can talk together. What do you know about the topic?
      • Encourage your child to write (lists/notes) and to draw to show what they know.
      • Discuss any vocabulary or words that are important, giving full and rich meanings in your language. If necessary, look up the meanings of words together in a bilingual dictionary or on the internet.
      • Write down some of the words that are new to your child in your language and English. Keep a vocabulary notebook or notes online.

      Why is it important that parents and families use their own language to help children's learning?

      • Family language skills are valued
      • Parental status within the family remains
      • There is clear research evidence that strength in home languages has a positive transfer to learning in English
      Notes compiled by