Teenagers today are definitely part of the smartphone generation and many parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend looking at screens.
There is some good news, however. Recent research shows that English is the top language for internet use. In fact, almost three times as many people are communicating on the net in English than in Spanish.
This exposure helps make learning English more meaningful for your teenager and gives them a real reason to improve their language skills. Nevertheless, it is still important to talk to your child to get them thinking about how and why English will help them in life.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to get them to use their imaginations. Ask them to think about where they’ll be in five or ten years’ time:
– Where will they be living?
– What job will they be doing?
– Where would they like to go on their holidays?
– How will knowing how to speak English play a part in each of these scenarios?
Once they are convinced that speaking the language is a useful skill, you can point them in the right direction and share some websites that will help them practise and learn English in an interesting, fun way, using their smartphones, tablets or laptops.
Here are five of our favourites:
If you have music-loving teens at home, why not introduce them to musical.ly? It’s an app, available on both iPhone and Android that allows people to upload their own video creations, lip-syncing along to famous songs.
It’s similar to Instagram, though with videos rather than pictures. You follow people and double-tap to like their content and you can add comments to videos as well, which is a great way to practise English.
This site originally showed music videos with gaps for you to fill in as you listen. However, it has also recently added trailers and clips from films and series, so you don’t have to be a fan of music to enjoy the site.
Teens are bound to find something they enjoy as there are videos from lots of different genres – music videos from The Beatles, Metallica and Taylor Swift or films and TV series like Harry Potter, Stranger Things and Rick and Morty. Plus, they can choose the level they want to try, from easy (with ten percent of the words missing) to expert, where they have to fill in ALL the gaps!
Speaking of TV shows, did you know you can watch Netflix with subtitles in English or Spanish? Watching films and series in the original version is a great way to get used to listening to a number of different English accents and dialects and you get much more of the emotion than the dubbed version can offer.
English Attack is another site where teens can watch clips from films and TV series. You have to sign up for an account, which is quick and easy to do, and then you can watch film clips and answer comprehension questions, fill in the gaps in the script and use new vocabulary in games. You can access some content with a free account and there are also options to sign up for membership for more videos and vocabulary sets.
There are lots of videos on this YouTube channel of American teens speaking naturally as they react to music, videos, food and a whole range of other things. There’s content for all tastes on here: watch teens eating astronaut food, see how they react to 80s comedy films or see if their parents know what’s hot in pop culture today.
If your teens are interested in starting their own YouTube channel, they should check out this video which lists the top ten teen YouTubers – a great way to get inspiration on what content to create. Teens can show off their dancing skills, give fashion or health tips to fans around the world or make short videos doing their favourite hobbies, like skating or gaming. It’s so easy nowadays to make videos and upload them directly to YouTube on your smartphone too.
Tips for Staying Safe Online
Online safety is an important issue to discuss with your children and teenagers, especially when they start using devices on their own.
Even for parents it can be difficult to know where to start and which sites are trustworthy. So Here are our top tips for teens to stay safe on the worldwide web:
Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.
Research (n): studies, investigation.
The net (n): short for the internet.
Meaningful (adj): important, significant.
Lip-sync (v): mouth the words to a song, i.e. sing with no sound.
Clip (n): short section of a film or series.
Be bound to (v): be sure to.
Dubbed (adj): with the audio in another language.
Plot (n): the storyline of a film or book.
Hot (adj): in fashion.
Show off (pv): show your skills.
Gaming (n): playing computer games.
Device (n): technology such as a smartphone or tablet.
Trustworthy (adj): reliable, can be trusted.
Over-cautious (adj): worrying too much.
n = noun
adj = adjective
v = verb
pv = phrasal verb