Children learn language in a quite different way from which adults learn. They repeat what they hear and they apply what they learn in new, similar situations. If they get it right, they know it by observing and getting feedback from others. If they get it wrong, they adjust it till they know it is correct.
Have you seen children playing the vegetable and fruit stand game? One child plays to be the person working in the shop, another child plays to be the customer, sometimes you can see a child playing the cashier too. They act to ask for the fresh vegetables and fruits, their price; the clerk introduces products and tries to convince the customer to buy them; and of course, the customer has to pay in the end. Once it is over, they will change roles and act it out from the start again.
This is a perfect example of a ROLE PLAY. Children are very good at creating scenario and act out different roles. When acting out different roles, children use different tones or ways of communication to make the scenario realistic. Sometimes they run into argument of how the play should be like and usually they come up with a solution which satisfy everyone involved. In role plays, children practice their social skills as well as language skills. It is also a fun exercise that they totally enjoy the whole experience. Learning takes place without being noticed.
What we can do as parents and teachers is to encourage children join role plays, in playdate, on the playground or even ask to be part of the play by providing an environment in which children can find various items to play with and they can act out safely. We can also create scenario and children to act it out, but using the language they are learning. For example, when the children learn the names of vegetables and fruits, with the aid of some simple sentences such as “I want…” ” Can I have…” “How much does it cost?” , they can start the shopping play.
What’s more, showing children a video or reading them a book of similar scenario before or after the role play can greatly help children feel comfortable using new words and sentences.
There are a lot of scenario children can act out. They are creative and full of imagination. Give them the environment and some tools, we can then sit back and enjoy their enjoyment of learning.