Parents: Read this if your child is learning English as a second language

Update! (September 24, 2016): I read a fantastic post from Juan Uribe at Children Learning English Affectively today. He’s a teacher, international teacher educator, and ELT consultant based in Toronto, Canada. He wrote a post called “A mini manual for parents of children learning English”. In it he describes several techniques that parents can use to help their children. I encourage you to read it today.

Being a parent isn’t easy. There are a lot of hard decisions to make about the future of your child. Almost all parents in Vietnam have already made the choice to have their children learn English. Some children understand and excel at English better than others. Regardless of how good your child is at English, it’s important to practice outside of the classroom. I’m going to talk about what parents can do to help their children learn English at home.

I’m not a parent myself (October 19, 2018 Update: I’m a dad now!). I’ve been an English teacher since 2013. This is the advice that I give when a parent asks me to help their child get better at English. I believe in the triangle theory of parenting. Each corner of the triangle represents the parent, the teacher, or the child. It takes equal effort from everyone to raise a successful, creative, and smart child.


  • Create a weekly learning schedule where the child knows it’s time to practice English. It’s important for children to have consistency in their learning. Thursday nights can be English nights.
  • Activity suggestions: watching funny cartoons on YouTube, listening to an audiobook, drawing a picture and describing it, playing games on BrainPOP, creating a Word Book, reading a story or comic book.
  • Find English activities, games and videos online (see below for a list) that are fun and interesting. If it’s boring, your children won’t want to keep learning English.
  • Read stories nightly to your child. If you don’t know English, read in Vietnamese to them. Or have your child read to you in English.
  • Check their English (and all their subjects) homework. If you don’t know English you can still check the worksheet to see if all of the blanks have been completed.
  • Activities can include English learning exercises but should also include singing songs, arts and crafts and multimedia (watching and listening in English). You might not think cartoons are educational. If they’re in English they can improve their listening and pronunciation skills later in life (if they’re watched regularly).
  • Parents can assign a fun assignment (just don’t call it homework) on Monday. The child should complete it and give it back on Friday.
  • Find books or comic books that your child can read where they don’t want to put the book down. You could find the PDF online (at and then print it out at a photocopy shop. Suggestions of what to read include “Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know” and “King Arthur’s Knights”. More suggestions here and here.
  • If you are a parent in Vietnam who can speak English, talk with your child in English sometimes. Having your child think and speak in English (instead of always in Vietnamese) can help.
  • Join an English club. If there isn’t one at school, create one or join a local one. A list of English clubs in Vinh City is here.