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8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child’s language skills

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Watching movies and TV shows is a favourite past time of many children. With the widespread use of the internet, many children have become quite skilled at using programs such as YouTube to watch brief cartoons and search for cheats for their favourite games. As a parent, this can be frustrating as it may seem like your child is only interested in watching movies or YouTube clips rather than completing ‘educational’ activities. However, there are ways you can use these interests to improve your child’s language skills. Some language skills that can be taught using YouTube and movies include:

1.Sequencing – watch the clip with your child. Then have them break the clip into what happens ‘first’, ‘next’ and ‘last’. You can write or draw the steps together to help you remember. This is particularly useful for game hints!

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

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8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

2. “Wh” Questions – you can use clips to ask your child a range of “wh” questions, for example “who found the hidden treasure?”, “where was the Pikachu hiding?”, “when did the zombies attack?”

3. Describing – Have your child choose a short video clip. Shut your eyes, and have them describe what is happening to you. See if you can guess which clip they are watching from their descriptions. Encourage your child to use lots of describing words to talk about colour, location, shape and size.

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

Image: Hollywood Life

4.Categories – When watching movies with your child, talk about what category the items and characters belong to. For example, Anna is a princess. Can you think of some other princesses? Sven is a reindeer. Is a reindeer a food? A person? Encourage your child to name the category, e.g, “Sven is an…….ANIMAL” then have them think of other characters belonging to that category.

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

Image: Disney Wikia

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

5.Sentence Construction – Pause the video and ask your child “what is happening in the picture?” Encourage them to include information about the character, action and location in their response, e.g. “the fish are swimming in the ocean”

Image: Disney Movies

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

6.Pronouns (e.g. he, she, his, hers) – Watch a movie with your child. Pause the clip at a time when there is only one character. Talk to your child about what the character is doing, using the words HE and SHE. To increase the difficulty of the task, you can ask your child questions that require a pronoun as an answer, e.g. “whose library is it? HERS!”

Image: Giphy

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

7.Vocabulary – Movies can be a great way to talk about new vocabulary with your younger child. For instance, your child may not have seen snow before. Movies that feature snow, such as Frozen, can introduce your child to new vocabulary such as ‘flurry’, ‘snow’ and ‘ice-skating’

Image: Disney

8.Understanding Negatives – Pause the video clip and ask your child to identify a character or item. Make sure your instruction uses a ‘negative’ word, such as ‘isn’t’ or ‘doesn’t’. For instance, in the movie the Lion King, you could pause the DVD and ask your child to “point to one that ISN’T a lion”, or “point to one that DOESN’T fly”

8 ways to use YouTube and movies to improve your child's language skills »

Image: Disney

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