My cousin, Fabiana, has called me if I could teach her 6-year old son, Diego. He is dying to learn English and at his school they won’t teach English before he is 7 because he has not learned to read and write in Portuguese, yet.
I told her Diego should have started learning English when he left the maternity if not sooner. As a baby he could have listened to stories on cd or mp3 in English – 30 minutes a day. Can you imagine how many hours of listening he would have already acquired?
Since English spelling and pronunciation live on different sides of the chasm, both children and adults would do well to develop their listening and speaking skills before reading and writing.
Games, realia, radio, and Tv are loaded with opportunities today for them to practice their listening. Once they have become used to the sounds of English then they will be able to more easily grasp the phonetics and spelling processes.
Until my early 30s the only opportunities to listen to authentic English on the radio was using a shortwave receiver which usually had a bearable reception only at night. Sometimes I had to attached a Brillo pad on the antenna for improved reception. I kid you not. Audiobooks were already available on cassette or cd but they were imported and expensive. Cable TV was in its infancy in Brazil, so forget about programming in the original sound. When they introduced the SAP (Second Audio Program) button on some tv programs I jumped for joy. With the click of a button I could choose between original or dubbed sound.
So today parents can encourage their children to watch, sing, dance, play in English. Learning has never been more fun.