The other day one of my Korean students and I greeted one another. I said, “Hello, how are you?” Her reply, “I’m happy.” A response like this always unnerves me. A more natural response could be, “I’m okay.”, “I’m great!”, or “Pretty good.” But I’m happy, just throws me off. Here are some ways you can teach your child how to sound more natural instead of responding with “I’m happy!”
I found some great videos on youtube to teach kids to respond to the question, “How are you?” Check out some of these songs from Super Simple Songs:
Here is a video of a school performing the song!
This song is fun and easy to sing! I tried it with my group of kids and it doesn’t matter if it’s an ESL class or not, it’s fun and gets the kids excited about starting the day!
Here is another one by Peter Weatherall:
It’s not as bouncy as Super Simple Songs, but it gets the point across. I think I would try this for beginning students or if your child isn’t that hyper in the morning.
One way to build on teaching your child how to respond naturally in English is to start with the basics. At the beginning of the school year, I usually use proper phrases like, I’m fine, I’m okay, etc. As the year progresses, I like to add some important phrases that will allow them to have a normal conversation. If you have a child and they are going to meet other English speaking children, they may not always say, “Hello, how are you?” They may use phrases like:
What’s going on?
How’s it going?
All of the above phrases are pretty common, but I have seen them stump adult learners who were only taught, “I’m happy.” Just so you know, you don’t want to jump in with “What’s going on?” But if you are a parent and you are trying to teach your child at home, simply tell your child in your native language that, ‘What’s going on?’ is the same as, ‘How are you?’ This will save time and energy. Don’t let your child walk around responding, “I’m happy!” to everything!