Practise English with child-friendly materials

A circle of children lying down with their heads together each reading from a brightly-coloured book

Would you like a way to spend time improving your English together with your kids? We’ve compiled some of our favourite books, short films and activities so that you can spend some time practising English with your kids. Don’t worry if you don’t have any kids to practise with, and we’re confident you’ll enjoy the themes, illustrations and careful attention to language too.

We’ve divided the suggestions into three parts: read, watch and listen, and do. If you’d like to find English lessons for your kids, then we recommend Alice’s workshops; you can find more information about her in Lorraine’s interview with Alice.

Read

There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.
Philip Pullman, writer

Reading children’s books can be incredibly useful when learning a language. They’re usually written in simple language, often using rhymes, and accompanied by images that can help you understand unfamiliar vocabulary.

If you can’t easily find these books, you can look for them as ebooks or possibly in your local library. Nowadays, many libraries are members of online library systems which allow you to borrow ebooks even if they are not physically available.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love is a beautifully illustrated story about self-discovery, gender expression and acceptance.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo are two books full of short stories about women who can serve as role models for children (and adults alike). All stories are also beautifully illustrated, and you can find some additional materials, books and even an app on their website, Rebel Girls.

The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark’s story written by Jill Tomlinson, touches upon being a good person, accepting others and yourself and facing your fears.

Drawn Together, written by Minh Lȇ and illustrated by Dan Santat, is a wonderful picture book. The grandson and grandfather don’t speak the same language, so they communicate and find common ground through their drawings.

My cat likes to hide in boxes by Eve Sutton is a charming picture book full of silly rhymes that illustrates the feeling of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’, but also love and appreciation for what we have.

Other authors you might enjoy are, for example, Shaun Tan and Julia Donaldson. Would you like more book recommendations? Send us a message using the chat box in the bottom right corner and let us know what kind of books you’re looking for.

Watch & Listen

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

There are many short films and podcasts you can use to get a bit of practice.

If you felt inspired by the picture books mentioned before, you might also enjoy the Read aloud series on Youtube. You can find many different books read out loud by educators and parents. Each read aloud video is accompanied by the images from the books, so you can still use visual cues to help your understanding.

If you’d like to learn about various topics in short, easily digestible lessons, I wholeheartedly recommend the TED-Ed videos. One of my favourite collections is the Myths From Around the World collection. You can create an account to access quizzes and discussion questions or watch the videos without logging in.

You can find many animated short films freely available on the internet. They often tackle tough topics of morality, ethics, beliefs, self-discovery etc., in ways accessible to children and language learners. Some of our favourites include Kitbull and Purl.

If you’d like to practise listening skills and attention and learn something new, we’ve found three fun and informative podcasts aimed at younger people that you’ll enjoy.

Have you ever had a child ask ‘buy why’ repeatedly? The NPR podcast of the same name takes questions from children and answer and explain them in straightforward, easy to understand language. The topics are pretty varied, so you won’t get bored quickly. Some of their latest episodes include ‘Why do pigs oink?’, ‘Why are some people left-handed?’ and ‘What if you’re scared to start school?’.

Brains On! is a science podcast for curious kids and adults. Each week, a different child joins the host Molly Bloom, and they look for answers to questions about the world.

If you like folktales and mythology, you’ll enjoy Circle round. It adapts traditional stories from around the world into music-rich adaptations. Circle round is created and produced by parents of young children and is aimed at audiences from four years old.

Do projects

Children see magic because they look for it.
Christopher Moore, writer

Finally, we recommend you pick a simple project to do in English from start to finish. Research information in English and use English to discuss the process and progress together. It’s also great for learning vocabulary on a specific topic.

Some of our favourite projects can be growing plants. You’ll not only discover a lot of vocabulary and phrases related to plant life, but it can also be a good lesson in patience, observing progress, providing continuous care but also seeing the benefits of it.

You can also use English in the kitchen. You’ll practise vocabulary, the imperative and following instructions, comparing information and more. Find a recipe you’d like to try that’s in English. You can even pick a dish that you’re familiar with and would like to learn to speak about in English. Make sure to look up any unfamiliar ingredients, tools and techniques before starting. Once you’ve finished, enjoy your meal and give it an honest review (in English, of course).

This content was written and recorded by Intrepid English Teacher Lida.

Lida

You can find out more about Lida on her Intrepid English Teacher Profile Page.

Book a free trial lesson today to discuss this topic in more detail, and talk about your English learning goals with an experienced and friendly native English teacher.

If you have any questions, or you would like to request a topic for a future blog, you can contact us using the chatbox, send us an email, or even drop us a message on any of our social media channels.

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Interview with Alyssa Ordu

Hello, and welcome to the Intrepid English podcast. My name is Lorraine, and today, I have a conversation for you. My friend Alyssa is a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant in London. And when I told Alyssa that we were creating a diversity and inclusion course, in the intrepid English Academy, we had a lovely conversation about why diversity and inclusion are so important. I asked her to join me on this podcast as an expert in this field, to break down these big topics so that our English learners and the listeners of this podcast can understand a little bit about what diversity and inclusion are, why they’re so important, and give you a little bit of language that you can use to increase your awareness and broaden your horizons in these essential areas.

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