The best way to increase your child’s English vocabulary is through reading. Research has consistently demonstrated that a child’s vocabulary in their first language is directly related to the amount that they are read too. (King and Mackey, p. 104) The same holds true for a child’s second language as well. The more you read to your child in English, the better their vocabularies will be.
It does not matter that English is not your first language. You will find that the more you read children’s books, your knowledge of the English language will significantly increase. I understand that this can be challenging, but the benefits to both you and your child are well worth the effort.
I am speaking from experience on this topic as my husband and I are raising our children to be trilingual. We are both native English speakers, yet I speak to our sons in Spanish, and he speaks to them in German, our second languages. Originally this was a major challenge for me, but I feel that one of the best gifts that you can give your children is the ability to speak a second language. Reading has dramatically increased not only the vocabulary of my son, but mine as well.
Start by reading simple books together with your child.
Books by Eric Carle are especially popular. The drawings and the repetition in the stories have proven to be a hit with children for generations, and they appeal to all ages from babies through third grade. Read the books together, talk about the pictures in English, and then read the books again. Children love to be read books repeatedly, and this is one of the ways in which they learn to read themselves. I have read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" to my two-year-old son many times. One day I found that he was holding the book up and "reading" to his baby brother the same way that I do. He is too young to read himself, but had memorized the book. I was amazed at how well he knew the story and thrilled to see how much he loved reading. It was proof to me that reading to him has been of great benefit.
To increase your child’s vocabulary, I recommed reading, and start with books by Eric Carle. These can be purchased through our TESOL Tips store. We will be updating the store on a regular basis where you will be sure to find books that are age appropriate and of interest to your child. I will also continue to address different ways and methods that you can use books in English to further develop your child’s skills.
Through reading together, both you and your child will improve your vocabulary. By talking about the books in English you will find that your fluency and comfort with using English will develop too.
*"The Bilingual Edge" by Kendall King and Alison Mackey