What resources exist to quickly acquire the "everyday" English vocabulary needed to communicate with my preschooler 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. Instead of a single word, all I can offer is a lengthy explanation that relies on nerdy terms or ill-suited synonyms.

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...] Asked about a milk carton, I say "a special container to hold milk" etc. This worked with other adults, 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, and can't look them up with a child on my lap. Is there some online resource, or a textbook, or a collection of text snippets that I can memorize? Something more efficient than writing out phrases by hand from hundreds of children's books? Thanks!

PS. (1) I do speak in the native tongue too, but unwilling to curtail the rest of my child's development for the sake of bilingualism. (2) I know the basics of studying English, but I wonder if there is a resource for my specific need: everyday/children's English for adult ESL nerds.

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    This may be off-topic, which is a shame because it's really a very useful question. Perhaps the best answer is: if you want child vocabulary, use child resources. Read children's books and watch children's TV shows, and learn what vocabulary they use. You can do this along with your child, and you can both learn the words together. – stangdon Mar 24 '18 at 0:06
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    As for "how do I figure out pronunciation of unknown words"...that's a tough one. Even native English speakers struggle with that. There are some basic patterns you can learn to recognize, but a lot of words just have to be memorized (bomb/comb/tomb, moon/door, etc.) – stangdon Mar 24 '18 at 0:14

Cheers, Alex. I think there should be a tag for resources, the only expectation to make the question on-topic being you provide us with enough info to better specify which resources are most appropriate. Which, frankly, you did.

Please visit Memrise (a play off the word, "memorize"). The site is quite a good user-contributed content site. Language study often comes with both pronounciation guides and actual vocalization. Topics range from very easy to very difficult to accomodate many learners. Its methods are, to me, quite impressive. I'm currently using the site to learn Northern Saami.


1) Watch children’s TV shows with the English subtitles on.

2) Read for yourself books directed at 2 year olds. The ones with minimal or no plot but lots of words. Richard Scary wrote a few good ones

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