My son is 5.5 years old. It is hard for us to make him respond to questions, tell short stories that are in his syllabus, even a statement in English. We speak in our mother tongue only at home. Even in his mother tongue, he is unable to tell about an event fluently.

Doing his writing works perfectly, he understands it well. But making him read and do extra writing practice is a hard task for us. He is never listening, at all. He is doing whatever he thinks is right. If I read stories loudly in front of him, he is not listening.

How can I make him take an interest in reading and talking?

  • It's commonplace for kids to be reluctant to use a language they know (fluently even!) but don't feel is their "favorite" language. One story I read was a French kid who knew English from his mom, visited England,tried to speak only French to the monolingual English kids. Took him a week to decide he should speak "Mom's" language in England. So if a kid is in a situation where communication demands English, (e.g. no common language except English) eventually, they will use it. Nov 28, 2013 at 14:30
  • Re: background reading (when they don't appear to be listening). Research with how kids respond to background TV-- it turns out they are unable to ignore it. Kids absorb a lot of linguistic input from ambient sources, radio, TV, other people talking on the bus, parents whom they seem to be ignoring, etc. Nov 28, 2013 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


This is very common at this age even when there is only one language being spoken! Developing the skill of relating an event takes practice, and as you have discovered, kids often are reluctant. I would suggest a trip to the library to find materials your son actually enjoys. Some possibilities:

  • Non-fiction. Boys often prefer this to fiction stories. He can pick books about robots or sharks or dinosaurs or race cars - whatever interests him!
  • Magazines. There are lost of them geared toward kids, and the articles are short, which helps in this situation.
  • Comics or graphic novels. Comics are in strip form (like Garfield or Snoopy), where graphic novels look like comics but tell a longer story.
  • Fiction of his choice. Perhaps he would like a particular type of story. Ask the librarian for suggestions. He or she is trained to help discover your child's interests.

The key to getting kids interested and comprehending is often by tying the activity to a desire for information. If your child wants a dog, get some books about dogs and read together to figure out what kind to get. If he shows an interest in construction vehicles, get a book to see how they work. If he sees an animal at the zoo, say to him, "I wonder why giraffes do that?" and then get a book about giraffes to find out together.

Also remember that kids come to this when they are ready, and some kids aren't ready for reading until closer to 7 years at which point they often catch up to their peersquite quickly. Keep exposing him to reading and talking to him about what you are reading. He will get there!


Have his hearing tested. Our son had hearing problems until age 4.5 and we did not even realise it. He behaved in the same way that your child seems to be behaving. Surgery fixed his hearing, but it still took over a year for him to catch up. I'm not sure where you're from. In Australia, this is a free test.

If the problem persists, you may consider a figure-ground assessment. Some children cannot filter out background noise from conversation. Unfortunately, our lad has this too. This seriously affects how they handle a class environment which is pretty much constant noise.

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