My Daughter Feels Alienated

by Samah
(saudi arabia -riyadh)

Hi Diana,

I am writing about my daughter. She is 6 years old and she is in first grade at school.

We are from Saudi Arabia and my problem with my daughter is "English". This year I registered her in an English section at school before she was in Arabic, so she feels like stranger in the class.

She likes English and wants to learn even her father and I speak English very well. So how can I solve this problem? Can you help me please?

Note: She can understand and speak a little and in the Arabic section they did take English.

Thank You...Samah
Hi Samah,

I'm sorry that you are in this situation as it must be very hard to see your daughter struggling.

I can only imagine how difficult this can be for her but there are definitely some things that you can do to help her get through this.

Number 1: She can handle it.

You must know that this situation will not last forever and it will actually make her stronger if she knows this first rule. "She can handle it". I think that the first thing you need to do, as parents, is to make sure that she knows she can get through this and that you both believe she can as well.

I'm currently reading a great book, "Feel the Fear...and Do it Anyway" and it talks about the idea that fear will never go away. It is a sign that we are growing as people.

You could sit down with your daughter and tell her that she might be frustrated but this will pass and she will be able to handle it. I'm sure she is a strong and confident little girl and that is the first step to helping her.

Number 2: Surround her in English...but make is fun. She really needs to know that English is fun and amazing and not something to fear. Do not force her to study grammar or write things out or anything like that. She is currently feeling alienated because her peers speak or understand more English than her. So the goal is to improve her speaking and listening skills dramatically.

How can you do this?

On a daily basis incorporate some of the following activities:

1) TV series in English. Take the series that she likes in Arabic and get the English version. You can find some episodes online or even buy the DVD. Make sure it is in English and put the subtitles in English (it will be a bit hard at first but she will improve quickly). You can make this a time for the family to get together and spend some time together watching cartoons or TV shows. Then afterwards, speak about the show.

2) Music is a very powerful thing. Go online and search for music that she likes in English (YouTube is great) and then search for the lyrics. Helping your daughter learn English really can be fun for both of you.

3) Podcasts! Find podcasts using iTunes or just searching them on Google on activities that she likes. If she likes painting, horseback riding and princesses, then find podcasts on these topics. Make sure that everything she does in English is fun and useful for her.

In general the main issue to tackle is her confidence. If she is sad and self conscious then she will not improve as quickly as if she is confidant and motivated.

Be sure to compliment her when she does things correctly and do not worry about her mistakes.

I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes!


Comments for My Daughter Feels Alienated

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Oct 26, 2010
I wish you the best
by: Yoko

Hi Samah,

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. It must have been difficult for you to see her being alienated by her class mates. I know what it is like, I've have been there before.

I agree with Diana, there are many TV programs that could help her learn English. I'm sure she must have seen the TV program called sesame street. It's a fun program that she could learn English quickly.

Using some read along books might be able to help her also. Pick up some fun stories for her and you and your dauther could listen to audio along with reading actual books to learn how those words are pronounced.

I have an idea, what if she could come up with something that no other kids could do but her.
Something that she doesn't have to use English to explain it to other kids.
I used to be able to fold papers and make flowers, animals, and all sorts of things. It's called origami. It's a Japanese art that are used in class room all over the world.
You can get some books from library and learn how to do them. If she could learn to make something like that and show to the other kids, this might be able to help her break the ice with between those kids withought saying a word.

I wish her the best to get over her problems.
Please let us know how she is doing.:)
Yoko! Your words and advice are priceless! Thank you for contributing! - Diana

Oct 25, 2010
Useful links
by: Darika

Hi, I can't agree more with Diana. I can only drop you some useful links I use with my children. They are fun and help a lot to engage children in language aquiring.

Here they are: - they offer interesting flash movies followed by different activities - they have wonderful songs, videos and more - be sure to visit this site. Their songs are a big fun.

You can find more links on the Internet with great stuff for children.

And why don't you try to speak more English with your daughter?

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