5 Ways to Encourage ELLs to Practice English at Home.


It’s the end of the year and you sit back watching your newcomer students who once didn’t speak at all carry on a conversation with their peers. You feel proud, excited, but then a little worried.

Why worried? Because you know that when you student’s go on summer break, it is very likely they will be in a home and environment that doesn’t speak English.

It isn’t a problem that they speak another language at home (actually it’s the opposite… it’s awesome!) but if they do not listen or speak in English for 2 months, they will regress quickly.

Unfortunately the old saying is very true…

“If you don’t use it, you lose it!”

In my own life, when I am here in Panama living in a Spanish-speaking context, my Spanish is great. I understand and can speak easily, but even if I go to the states for 2 weeks, when I come back I am rusty! I forget words, it takes me longer to say something, and my comprehension is terrible!

This is what we don’t want to happen to our students, and so I wanted to share with you 5 ways to help encourage them to keep up some form of English learning over the summer so that they at least continue to listen and speak it a little each day.

  1. Challenge them to watch TV in English. I cannot even tell you how many people I have met here in Panama that speak beautiful English and when I ask them how they learned, their response 9/10 is by watching movies and TV in English! The listening comprehenion, vocabulary development, and connecting to something the students enjoy is a powerful and easy way to encourage English!
  2. Challenge them with this At Home English BINGO Card! This works well if there are siblings all working on English together and a way for the students to become the “teacher” and help their parents, grandparents, or anyone else in the house to learn some new vocabulary!
  3. Send home a printable packet that has QR codes to support their skills without needing help from an adult. Think about what you are sending home and if it is going to help the child or bring frustration on the house! Keep it simple and easy for students to do independently like these Listen and Learn Printable Packets.
  4. Continue with flipgrid over the summer so you can stay in touch and they can practice English. If you have a online tool you worked on during the year that your students are familiar with, encourage your students to keep posting during the summer. This is a great way for them to practice speaking in English, but also connect with their friends!
  5. Check out opportunities at the library for the family to learn English together. I was excited to get a pamphlet from my in-laws local library sharing about an online program that they have available to anyone that wanted to learn a new language. There are a lot of community opportunities out there so before summer if you have a few minutes to pull some ideas together that families can particiapte in together it might help!

How else do you encourage students to keep up their language skills over the summer? Please share below!


One Comment

  • Do you have tips to for non-English parents to help their ESl child learn and practice English at home throughout the year?


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