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Teaching stories

The stories, apart from being every young childs bedtime friend, can become every
young learners school time treasure. The stories are very useful in the trials to improve
pupils vocabulary and reading. Teachers can create a variety of writing activities to help
students to develop their writing skills.
Stories are motivating and fun and can help develop positive attitudes towards the
foreign language. They can enrich the pupils learning experience. Listening to stories in
class is a shared social experience and children enjoy listening to stories over and over
again. This repetition allows language items to be acquired and reinforced. Listening to
stories develops the childs listening and concentrating skills. Stories create opportunities
for developing continuity in childrens learning.
There are several criteria a teacher could use for selecting a story accessible and
relevant for the learners. Sue Clarke gives the criteria for the selection of stories:
- appropriate language level (vocabulary, structures, notions, functions);
- content (interesting, fun, motivating, memorable, encourages participation);
- visuals( attractive, potential to work with, size);
- pronunciation (intonation, rhythm, repetition);
- motivation (develop imagination, arouse curiosity, draw on personal experience);
- language learning potential (skills development, language practice, recycling,
prediction, other strategies);
Why teach through stories?
-stories create magic and a sense of wonder at the world;
-stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others;
-teaching through stories is a unique way for students to develop an understanding,
respect and appreciation for other cultures, and can promote a positive attitude to
people from different lands, races and religions;
-the real- life problems presented within a story provide meaningful learning
opportunities for students;
-students are provided with opportunities to solve their present problems as well as
develop decision- making skills for the future.
Reading stories, our students can benefit because they promote a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation, increase their willingness to communicate thoughts and
feelings, encourage active participation, increase verbal proficiency, encourage use of
imagination and creativity, cooperation between students.
The actual reading of a story can be done in different ways: in groups, jigsaw
reading, partial teacher reading and partial students reading, silent reading with
guiding questions.
When we are getting started teaching a story, we can start talking about the title,
making predictions (from the title, selecting vocabulary, a picture), telling a part of
the story and guessing, motivating through a picture, giving information about the
author, giving background information, listening to part of the story.
Among writing activities, teachers can ask students to write dialogues or more
complex writing activities if students have reached a high level of language
proficiency. For example, pupils can assign writing activities like: paraphrase

paragraphs, summarize the story, write a paragraph to explain something from the
story, write an essay.
To develop students speaking skills by using short stories teachers can assign the
following activities: reading the story aloud as a chain activity, retelling the story as a
chain activity, preparing arguments, role- play.
Listening skills are developed by reading the story out loud or playing the story if
a recording is available. The activity can be carried out for fun or for students to find
answers to questions given and explained to them before the listening activity starts.
Activities we can do after teaching the story could be: drawing the story in comics,
changing the ending of the story, talking about characters, plot and sequence, messages,
choosing the favourite part of the story and discussing it, writing dialogues, summarizing.
The British Councils site for young learners states that fairy tales are a rich
source of motivating learning content for pupils. For primary and very young learners
you can read or tell the story by exploiting the visuals and asking questions
throughout.Once children are familiar with the story, they could act out the play.
Depending on the level of the learners, you could ask the children to work in groups
of four to practice the dialogue, or do this as a whole- class activity.
With learners who are a little more advanced you can exploit their knowledge of
universal fairy tales and perhaps some local ones.Begin the lesson by asking the
students which fairy tales they know and write up the names on the board in English.
Ask your students to tell the basic plot of one of the fairy stories on the board. Write
up key vocabulary and characters on the board e.g. prince, castle, ogre, ugly sisters,
wicked queen, frog. Your learners could compare the stories- which characters or
object appear most?
With very young and active learners the story can be mimed while the teacher
reads and the children listen. The teacher can read the dialogue in different funny
voices. If pupils read individually they could use a dictionary as they read (at a high
level).
What do stories give our students that routine texts cannot?
- allow children to explore their own cultural roots;
- allow children to experience diverse cultures;
- enable children to empathize with unfamiliar people, places, situations
- offer insights into different traditions and values;
- help children understand how wisdom is common to all peoples/cultures;
- offer insights into universal life experiences;
- help children consider new ideas;
- reveal differences of cultures around the world.
Conclusion
Storytelling can be stimulating not only to increase studentsinterest, motivation,
creativity, critical thinking skills, imagination and verbal self- confidence in language
learning, but also to maximize their authentic self-involvement and community
interaction.
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