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Παρασκευή, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

Story telling and Young Learners

“When children create and tell a story in the foreign language the story and the language become theirs” (Wright 1996).

Story telling is an appealing and motivating, real life activity that can be used in the EFL classroom as a valuable and enjoyable resource for promoting language learning. Listening and narrating stories is a familiar procedure for all learners in their mother tongue and it takes several forms. Reporting one’s own stories and personal anecdotes or telling jokes is a fascinating, everyday routine that people enjoy sharing with each other. The universal nature of stories in relation to their content and structure and the cultural elements that they convey make them relevant to the learners’ interests and background. Moreover they are easily accessible and there is a wide variety of sources, such as the media, songs, myths, fables, fairytales etc., from which they can be drawn.

Stories are not only closely related to the learners’ experiences but they provide a “rich comprehensible input and a stimulus for real communication in English” (Rossner 1988). Their use in the classroom is not a passive process. They are employed as a stimulating starting point for further activities that promote purposeful learning within a meaningful, familiar and relaxed context and provide practice in language, social and communication skills. An extremely motivating and fun activity is the retelling of a story by the learners themselves, after it has been presented by the teacher, whereby they are given the chance to use the language for real communication and internalize its aspects while being creative and having fun.

It has been already mentioned that stories have a universal appeal and that children are familiar with them from an early age, either in the form of traditional and folk tales or as everyday events to which they are constantly and naturally exposed. The young learners are “natural story-tellers” (Jennings 1991) in their own mother tongue because they assimilate the structure and the information of the stories and then they recreate it and form new ones. This procedure can be applied in the teaching of English for a variety of purposes.

  • The most essential reason for using stories with young learners is that they are motivating and fun.
  • Stories are stimulating because they provide an opportunity for the learners to process meaning actively, while being creative.
  • Another reason that story telling is considered to be a valuable activity is that it provides an excellent context for the learners to use the language for their purposes, to share their ideas and not just learn about it.
  • A relaxed atmosphere is created whereby the most important thing is to help the student overcome his/her inhibitions and adopt “a positive attitude to ‘having a go’ with the language one knows” (Wright 1995) so as to use it for real communication in meaningful situations.
  • Furthermore they can be used to trigger the learners’ interest in other subjects across their curriculum. 
REFERENCES

  • Jennings, C. (1991). Children as Story-tellers. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Rossner, R. (1988). The Whole Story: Short Stories for Pleasure and Language Improvement. London: Longman.
  • Wright, A. (1995). Storytelling with Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wright, A. (1996). Creating Stories with Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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