How To Teach A Narrative
Long, long ago, when darkness fell, inside homes and outside around campfires, adults and children alike huddled to listen to raconteurs with flashing eyes and booming voices. The stories were of times gone by, of valour, love and the triumph of right over wrong. People used to tell each other stories at bedtime, across dinner tables, and around campfires, but the respect for storytelling as a tool of learning was almost forgotten .The art of storytelling is being revived nowadays.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is relating a tale to one or more listeners through voice and gesture.
It is not the same as reading a story aloud or reciting a piece from memory or acting out a drama-- though it shares common characteristics with these arts. The storyteller looks into the eyes of the audience and together they compose the tale.
Why include storytelling in school?
We tell stories informally as we relate the mishaps and wonders of our day-to-day lives. We gesture, exaggerate our voices, pause for effect. Listeners lean in and compose the scene of our tale in their minds. We often remember these tales especially when they are similar to those from our own lives.
Many ESL teachers are interested in storytelling as a resource in teaching. Stories can be used for a wide variety of instructional purposes:
- They may be a means to activate learner schemata before reading
- A story theatre classroom can work on pronunciation, intonation,
and oral fluency.
- Storytelling can also prepare academically bound students for further study of literature by helping students become familiar with structural elements and such literary concepts as episode , plot, setting, characters, climax , and resolution.
- Storytelling is very useful to inculcate values in our students.
- Storytelling teaches the students how to write-- it’s all tied up--- listening, writing, reading........
- Storytelling widens the students’ interests and gets them hooked onto reading. But if the books get very boring, the students will not be able to assimilate much.
- Listeners encounter both familiar and new language patterns through story. They learn new words through context. They can predict upcoming events later on.
-Learners who regularly tell stories become aware of how an audience affects a telling, and they carry that awareness into their writing.
- Story is the best vehicle for passing on factual information because these facts are incorporated into story form and made more memorable if the listener takes the story into heart. A child’s mind is like a fresh slate whatever impressions are formed when they are young will stay even when they grow up.
- Students working in pairs or in small storytelling groups learn to negotiate the meaning of a tale.
We can conclude that the list of storytelling applications to the teaching of English seems endless.
How do you include storytelling in school?
We can do that in many ways. A useful technique is the teacher’s modeling. This technique can introduce students to eye contact, dramatic placement of a character within a scene, use of a character voices, and more.
If students spend time rehearsing a story, they become familiar with some or all the techniques mentioned above. However, it is very important to remember that storytelling is communication, from the teller to the audience, not just acting or performing.
Audiotape or videotape recordings can offer the storyteller a
chance to be reflective about the process of telling. Listeners can give feedback where the telling engaged them most.
Like writers, student storytellers learn from models. Visiting storytellers or professional tellers on audiotapes or videotapes offer students a variety of styles.
Guidelines for selecting appropriate tales and what to consider both during and after storytelling.
*Try to select folk tales. Since they have been written in many versions, the exact words are less important. Some of these tales are simplified.
*The level of difficulty should be within the students’ grasp, yet be a little bit challenging.
*Examine the story text to see what it lends itself to in terms of language, concept, and critical thinking development.
*Write down appropriate instructional objectives in each episode or area and consider these as lesson and learning resources you will need.
*Note especially the language skills and elements your learners could gain from the storytelling.
*Consider how to introduce new vocabulary and reinforce old vocabulary.
*Decide how to provide enough language support and descriptive information for the audience familiarity and comfort within the story environment.
*To further augment the group’s comprehension, introduce crucial vocabulary.
*Follow up by repeating key ideas and vocabulary throughout and after the story event.
*Extend into interpretive, reflective, and applied activities to encourage further language and concept exploration.
*Finally, it is usually best to keep the narrative simple, with few characters and with built-in repetition. This reduces cognitive load. Repetition also allows for more participant interaction.
- Do your best to prepare the environment. Use props, teaching aids, and sound effects or background music native to the culture in the tales.
-Arrange seating “ to set a stage” and diminish distractions.
-Prepare the audience for listening by drawing upon background knowledge about the context or theme.
-Have students tell a story from their own life at the beginning; it helps to break the ice and helps to make them aware of how much storytelling we all do in our lives just because we are human beings.
-Hold up a picture- it is usually a picture that is expressive and big. Explain to the students that something happened before this picture was taken and something happened after it was taken. Have one section write the before. Then another section has to write the after --then have the students ‘join’ the befores and the afters that fit.
-Plan how you can provide a chronological and geographical entrance to the story.
-Briefly, explain cues and rehearse the audience in their roles.
-It is very important that the storytelling flows smoothly, so be careful about ad-libbing.
-Vary voice inflection and tone along with body movement to keep momentum and audience focus.
-Work on one skill a session (story sequence, intonation, articulation, paralinguistic, body language, props -- though I discourage too much props because students get over reliant on them), using something very short they can use to work on that skill with.
-Evaluate the audience reaction continuously, and increase or decrease involvement depending on the need to stimulate or calm the learners for better story effectiveness.
-Pay special attention to the most and least involved students.
-Make this shared experience real and meaningful by asking your students to retell the story in short. You can organize group sharing.
-Consider the advantages of team teaching. Students may enjoy interacting with students of another class.
-You can work with another teacher if you wish. You can take turns as the storyteller and instructional guide; you may even wish to tell the story as a team.
-Videotape the session; later, view and evaluate yourself.
-Give your students a couple of weeks to find a story to tell, and each week they work on one skill in terms of their story.
-Tape-record your students’ tellings and let them critique their own, which they may find useful, though you may not have the time to do that.
Both storytellers and listeners find a reflection of themselves in stories. Story characters represent the best and worst in humans. By exploring story territory orally, we explore our students and ourselves.