How to Start ESL with Toddlers

Our family started as a unit of eight members (tatay, that’s dad’s counterpart here in the Philippines aside from papa; nanay-mom’s equivalent other than mama; 6 siblings: 4 girls and 2 boys). Although we lost one member (father) due to separation (mom and dad parted ways when my siblings were very young). I (eldest) was in my second year in high school, and our youngest (boy) was only in 2nd grade. The family started to grow when most of my siblings started their own and decided to still live in the family’s house. Well, they have nowhere to go 🙂

The family’s now composed of:

Nanay (mom) – English high school teacher in Siargao Islands.
Me – English Language instructor at Surigao Education Center.
Tracy – mother of my part-American nephew, Travis Christoff who’s 4 years old now, she finished Secondary Education major in English like me.
Mae – finished Business Administration and now a community affairs in-charge at a mining company in a nearby town.
Peter Ervard John – father of two (Errvard Jerremiah, our oldest nephew who’s 5 years old and Errah Jerrelle who’s 2 years old), and currently finishing Secondary Education major in English.
Twinkle – wasn’t able to finish college but took up computer  engineering and dropped it in the first semester (teenagers).
BL – wasn’t able to finish college too, an undergrad of computer engineering but currently an envi-checker of a mining company where Mae our sister is working, and father to an only daughter, our oldest niece, Christelle Hakeena who’s also 2 years old like Errah only months older.
Jhie – high school mathematics teacher, wife to Peter, and mother to EJ and Errah.
Arn – nurse in the mining company where my siblings Mae and BL are also working, mother to Christelle Hakeena, and wife to our youngest brother, BL.

With Peter who will soon be joining us, the family will already have five teachers, four of whom majored in English. And although two are undergrads (my other siblings), bragging aside, they speak very good English; sometimes with accent like the natives have. We always get that from people we come across with and hear us speak the language. In fact, one of my friend’s remarked, we, (siblings) are blessed with tongue like the Americans’ (well, she exaggerates).

So when our first nephew was born, we were not only happy having the little one, but also anxious as to how he’s going to be at school and how he’s going to be as a kid surrounded by tito (uncle) and titas (aunts) who may not be achievers in class, nonetheless admired by teachers, classmates, and friends for being smart and having a remarkable skill in English. We were kind of pressured to preparing and educating our nephew at a very early age.

We started filling up our walls with posters on anything that’s basic such as: hand and power tools, animals, herbivores, division, multiplication, addition and subtraction tables, flags of the world, world and Philippine maps, Philippine national heroes, the Philippine national anthem, some useful insects, parts of a flower, synonyms, parts of speech, kinds of weather, the nervous system, Philippine national symbols, the solar system, shapes, and the latest wall chart of English alphabet.

These are on the family house’s walls when our oldest nephew turned one. We started teaching him the alphabet and numbers every time that we get to have time or chance like after giving him a bath and he’s towelled dry, we, titas (aunts) start pointing at his fingers and counting them and he mimics; or we start pointing at his body parts and ask him to name those. We kind of made it as a game for him.

We started to cultivate his interest in the posters on our walls and we didn’t fail for when he started to walk at a little over one year, he began to point at things on the posters kind of like asking us to name what was pointed out by him, kind of like turning the table and quizzing us instead of the other way around. Or when we fail to point at his body parts and ask him to name them after bath, he points at those parts himself and ask us to name them. Or out of the blue, he points at his father’s eyes, navel, or nose while at the same time saying the words (the body/face part’s name). Or he gets our attention, point at something on the poster, and names it himself. He gets motivated and does a lot of pointing and naming when he hears a lot of “very goods” from us his titas (aunts) and tito (uncle). He even amazes us when we’re simply watching tv and he hears Japan for example and he goes to the world map and points where Japan is.  Well, he points only at Japan, New Zealand, Philippines and Australia when he was younger (2-3 years old). Or when he gets to go somewhere with his NanayLa (grandma on our side) and sees something that’s familiar, he points at it getting his grandma’s attention and names it or recites it. People who get to see or hear him get amazed at how smart and articulate he is.Now that he’s five, using his mom’s mobile phone, he sends texts to his part-American cousin about going to “Maputo” capital city of Mozambique he’d seen on our world map. And he knows the capital cities of most countries around the globe. He knows more about it than most titas and tito. He even asked me about the language spoken in Kyrgyzstan. (Would you have asked such question?)

We definitely have not failed in our effort to educate our nephew at an early age and will certainly not get embarrassed by him instead be proud for wherever he may be, whatever he learned at home gets out with him and amazes people.

So when the girls (nieces Christelle Hakeena and Errah Jerelle) were born, we simply added some more posters and did exactly the same. Only, we’ve afforded our very first nephew a way better attention in his time than when the girls came. Nonetheless, we still have started ESL with all our nephews and nieces through basics on the wall.

More informative posts for your reading pleasure by clicking on the link below:


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