Language Learning Resources to Create

Many of these resources can involve the whole family!

  1. Labels. One of the first and simplest things you can do to assist your language learning is to label items around your house. Don’t create dozens of labels at the very beginning – that can be overwhelming! Instead, as you learn each new category of words, label those things in your house. For example, when you learn furniture, label all the furniture in your house. When you learn clothing, hang various articles of clothing in a prominent place, with labels on them. Likewise, you can label food, people in photos, and colors in a painting. You can make a fun family game out of “labeling” each other to learn body parts! You can even take photos of various activities, and create verb labels to go with them. To avoid clutter and to test your memory, remove words that you think you have learned, just reinstating those that you have difficulty remembering.
  2. Matching cards. Sets of matching words and pictures can be used for many fun activities. If possible, take photos of local items, rather than just finding random pictures online. Here are some activities that you can do with matched sets of words and pictures:
    • Memory game: Lay all cards face down. Take turns turning over two. If the two are a word-picture match, the player keeps the pair and goes again. If not, the two cards are turned back face down, and stay in place. Play continues until all pairs have been matched. The person with the most pairs wins.
    • Go fish: Each player takes 5 cards. During a turn, a player asks one other player for a card that matches a word or picture in her hand. If the player asked does not have the card, he says “Go Fish”, indicating that the player should pick up a card from the deck.
    • Speed match: Time yourself matching all the words and pictures. Then mix cards up and try to beat your time.
  3. Songs and nursery rhymes. It’s not too difficult to put new words to familiar tunes, and sing your way to remembering new phrases or words. Nursery rhymes are similarly effective, as the rhythms stick in your brain, helping you to remember. The English language lends itself well to rhythm. Check with someone who speaks English well to make sure your songs and chants are helping you to learn correct rhythm and intonation.
  4. Board games. All you need are a die and markers and a piece of paper to use the familiarity of a board game to practice language. Draw a free-form “board”, and mark off squares. Write some kind of prompt for language production in each of the squares. When someone lands on that square, they must produce that language. Here are some examples of prompts and tasks, to get you started!
    • Times (4:30 a.m.; 8:00 p.m., etc.). Make a complete sentence about what you do at that time of day.
    • Food items. State whether you like that item. Or to make it more complex, how you might prepare it.
    • Activities. State the last time or the next time you will do that activity.
    • Prepositions. Make a sentence with the preposition.
    • Verb tenses. Make a sentence using the verb tense.
    • Colors. Make a sentence telling about something of that color.
  5. Tic-tac-toe. Create a 3 X 3 square grid and write new words in the squares. You can only “X” or “O” that square after you have made a sentence using that word. For a simpler version, create X’s and O’s out of paper clips, twist-ties, or paper. Place cards with pictures or words in the form of a tic-tac-toe grid. As you make your sentences using the words, place your X or O on top of the word or picture.
  6. Posters. If you have an artistic bent, you might enjoy creating inspirational, humorous, or aesthetically pleasing posters in English. They might contain inspirational sayings, or might list common polite phrases, for example. Using English to decorate your walls can be very motivating!
  7. Audio recordings. Sometimes recordings that you produce yourself, or with other English students, can provide better listening material than something commercially produced or created by native speakers. The latter may go too fast and use many words you don’t know. Producing your own recordings can give you an opportunity to hear the same language repeatedly, committing it to memory. Here are some examples:
    • Interviews. Interview your teacher or another student – or be interviewed by them.
    • “How to” session. Record yourself telling how to do something – maybe even make it a video! Examples could include making a recipe, doing a craft, selecting the best fruit at the market, cleaning something, etc.
  8. Sentence frames and sentence starters. A sentence frame is a sentence with blanks in it, where key words would be inserted. A sentence starter provides the beginning of a sentence, and you fill in the end. These resources are staples in language classrooms, either written on the board or on posters around the room. You can create your own to help you practice using English at home. Here are some examples:
    • I am wearing _____, _____, and _____. (Fill in with your articles of clothing, or the colors you are wearing.)
    • Yesterday I ________, then I _________. (Fill in with two things you did yesterday.)
    • I am too _____ to _______. (Fill in with an adjective and activity.)
    • I need to buy…. (Fill in all the things you need to buy.)
    • I feel…. (Describe your feeling.)
    • Yesterday I felt…. (Describe your feeling yesterday.)
    • I am happy/sad/discouraged/encouraged because….
  9. A Picture Dictionary. Picture dictionaries can be purchased. However, creating your own can not only help you learn more language, but also include pictures connected to your own context. Here are some suggestions that may help you:
    • Take photos of the real words that you want to learn. In the beginning these might be mostly nouns. But you can easily expand to photos illustrating verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
    • You might want to upload your photos in word documents, print them off, and create real books. Or, you might want to use your “book” on your phone or computer.
    • Consider creating two versions for each word set: one with the written word, and one without. This will allow you to practice remembering the word as you begin to learn it, just by looking at the picture.
    • Usually it is not advisable to include the English definition. The point is to link the word in your new language directly to the picture.
  10. Proficiency Goals. Personalize your learning by creating your own, specific, English learning goals. The value of creating your own proficiency goals or “can do” statements is to set very specific learning goals for yourself, contextualized to your own needs and setting. Here are some examples:
    • I can accurately say amounts of money when I am looking at prices online or on a store flyer.
    • I can ask about my friend’s children when I greet her.
    • I have memorized the words to five simple songs.

Make sure your personalized goals are ones that are motivating for you, and are achievable. Add realistic time-frames if this would provide additional motivation for you. For example, when you are beginning to learn numbers and how to say amounts of money, you might determine that within two weeks you will say all those number words to a friend. And as you begin to learn your songs, you might decide that within two months you would like to record yourself singing them in your own audio journal.