How to quickly acquire the "everyday" English vocabulary needed to communicate with my preschool child? I am an immigrant IT professional who speaks fluent English, but who learned his English as an adult. My child was born in America. I can easily communicate on work-related topics. But when my child asks me "What is this?" or "What are you doing?", I often find myself at a loss. For example, I am playing a tune by drumming with my feet, the child asks "What are you doing?" -- and I say "Err.. I am making music by..." [Hitting? No; Knocking? No; Stepping? With? Ugh...] Instead of a single word, all I can offer is a lengthy explanation that relies on technical or generic terms or ill-suited synonyms. With other adults that had been OK, but not with a preschooler. A related problem is figuring out pronunciation while reading children's books aloud. I've never heard these words spoken! Is there some online resource, a textbook, or a word/phrase list that I can memorize? Something more efficient than writing out phrases by hand from hundreds of children's books? Thanks! (PS. I do speak in the native tongue too, but unwilling to curtail the rest of my child's development for the sake of bilingualism.)

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not related to parenting.
    – SomeShinyObject
    Mar 21 '18 at 6:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because while a child is involved, it is primarily about language acquisition. You might try asking on an ESL forum. Mar 21 '18 at 15:24
  • Or why not just leave your answer as "I am making music." without trying to get into many details (using your example)? Dictionary is a good start for pronunciation. Google Translate or something similar that can speak aloud the word(s) is useful. Finally, pronunciation varies greatly from one region to the next, ie American south compared to midwest, or American in general compared to Australian.
    – user20343
    Mar 22 '18 at 19:28

I have lived in an expat community as a child and seen the families that manage to learn the new language and those that don’t.

Children are very good at learning from imperfect teachers. As long as your child is also exposed to „correct“ english, it will intuitively grasp which version is the correct one and retain that.

Just make sure your child has regular contact to at least one native english speaker. Friends are best. Maybe a little bit of English music & television as you see fit. Once your child learns to read, there is a whole world of wonderful children’s books.

Most importantly: Your imperfect English will never harm your child. And wonderful things have been said with limited vocabulary.

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