Tips for Parents of English Language Learners

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

English language learning in the classroom can be difficult, but this lesson will give tips so parents can help continue that learning at home. Read on, for ways to develop different English language skills, without putting in extra hours in the classroom.

The Value of Parental Support

Learning English as a second language (ESL) in the classroom can be very challenging and overwhelming. Educational content can quickly become confusing when students do not understand the key vocabulary required for concept comprehension. For this reason, extra practice at home is a must. Parental support is extremely valuable as students work on developing his or her second language literacy skills.

Even if parents only speak a little English, the ideas in this lesson should be easy to use as they help students work on English language skills at home. Let's get started.

Tips for Parents of ELLs

The following tips will come in handy as parents of ELLs work to support their children's learning at home. It does not matter how much, or how little, the parents are able to speak English, just as long as they commit to helping their ELL develop his or her English language skills.

Vocabulary Journal

Have ELLs create and maintain a vocabulary journal at home to keep track of new words that are introduced in the classroom. You can help with vocabulary acquisition by having your child:

  • Review the words by practicing both the spelling and definition.
  • Practice writing sentences or stories with vocabulary words as they are added.
  • Use the words to play literacy games, such as hangman or charades.
  • Draw pictures to go along with the vocabulary words for picture/word association.

Tell Stories

Practice vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and writing skills by telling stories. Write down a mixture of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, and then have your ELL create silly stories.

  • Practice speaking and listening skills by creating and telling stories to one another orally.
  • Practice reading and writing skills by creating stories in writing for one another to read.
  • Practice problem-solving skills by posing questions about the stories or creating conflicts for your ELL to solve.

English Learning Websites

If you have access to the Internet, there are a variety of educational websites that have English learning activities and games to help students develop his or her language skills. Additionally, many websites offer quizzes, tests, and record keeping so students are able to keep track of his or her progress.

  • Use websites that introduce, practice, and test phonics for reading development.
  • Take advantage of learning websites that offer audio book downloads, read alongs with text, and pronunciation assistance.
  • Let your child play English learning games, as this can peak their interest, offer motivation, and also teach new vocabulary.

Develop a Study Routine

Students do best when they have a structured routine in place. Aim to work out a plan with your ELL so there is a designated time and place where they can work on their English learning every day. Provide encouragement, assistance, and support during this time so they do not develop negative feelings with their English practice.

  • Incorporate small breaks into the routine so your child does not become overwhelmed.
  • Keep the area well lit, quiet, and free from distraction. Have all materials on hand that you will need, so your child is already prepared when study time begins.
  • Use active learning strategies (jumping jacks while saying vocabulary words, jump on one foot while spelling new words, pat your head while telling a story).

Read, Read, Read

Visit a local library to check out English books that interest your ELL so they get the chance to read for enjoyment. Try to read aloud to your child each day, while also encouraging them to read each day as well.

  • Make the library a fun outing; enroll them in a reading or reward program.
  • Get audio books, videos, DVDs, CDs, and video games from the library in English so your child can incorporate a variety of English mediums into their home activities.
  • Have your child write a book report, letter to a character, or letter to the author to practice reading response skills.
  • Put the vocabulary journal to work by having your child keep track of new vocabulary words that pop up so they can better understand and enjoy their library books.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account