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I teach English as a second language online to young children in China. Some of my students are very young and their parents will sit with them during the lesson. Over the years, I have experienced many different types of parents. Some have been invaluable to keeping the student focused and encouraged. Others have derailed the classes. Three problems I have faced from parents are overcorrecting, feeding students the answers, and becoming frustrated with their children. Parents can be a valuable support to students so long as they do not become overly involved. Parents can play a key role in helping students learn pronunciation. I have often asked parents to practice certain words or letter sounds with their children at home. This repetition can be invaluable. Much worse than not having this support, however, is having a parent that overcorrects. I understand why they do it. It is natural to think that you cannot move on from a certain word until the child can say it correctly. It is also wrong. I have learned something very important in teaching ESL: it is better to under-correct than to overcorrect. Overcorrecting can demolish a student’s self-confidence which, in turn, slows down their learning. One parent corrected her child every time he made a mistake. I watched this destroy his confidence and turn the bubbly, eager student into a very reserved one. Parents can be a great help to their children so long as they remember to be encouraging and to have patience. Not every concept or sound will be mastered in a single day. I have often noticed that students with parents who are fluent in English do better in class. Parents can play a vital role in helping students practice at home. However, it is very important that students do not become reliant on their parents for answers. One of the worst problems I face with parents comes when I ask the student a question and I hear the parent immediately whisper the answer to the child. This is detrimental to their learning. Most children will not strive to learn if every answer is fed to them. Parents should resist the urge to tell their children the correct answer. They can help their children by practicing with them at home and trying to elicit the correct responses instead of giving them the answers verbatim. It can be easy to get frustrated with students. There are times when I cannot understand why a student is confused. However, it is incredibly important to never let this frustration show. When a student is struggling, one must gently guide them and reward them when they get even small things right. This was a hard lesson for me to learn as a teacher and remains a hard lesson for many parents. Learning a language is complicated a student might need to learn a specific concept several times before it sticks. One example of this is teaching how to use plurals to Chinese students. Some students catch on very quickly. Others will still forget to use the plural form of a noun weeks after I have introduced the concept. I had a student who particularly struggled with this. His mother would get frustrated and yell the correction at him. The result was that he stopped answering my questions altogether. Through lots of encouragement, I got him to start volunteering answers again and he went on to be one of my brightest students. Positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement. Parents have played a big role in my students’ progression. While there are certain problems to avoid, there are a myriad of ways parents can help their children master English faster. They can help children learn pronunciation, give them the practice and confidence to answer questions on their own, and encourage their children. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint.