Once upon a time…

Ratna Rao

As soon as someone says “once upon a time” everyone around, especially the young, begin to listen with rapt attention. Stories of all kinds, whether folklore, science fiction, or adventure are lapped up by children. Stories have and always will play a significant role in the growth of a child. Not only do they help instil moral values in a child but they also foster the imagination. Stories help in building learning strategies and thinking skills such as hypothesizing, predicting, and inferring and also in building their confidence and developing good values. Stories are a treasure house for language learning and can help build a love for the many cultures in this world. Stories are easily accessible and can be found in books, magazines, and on the Internet. Our memories are also full of stories from our childhood.

This easy accessibility and interest in stories can be used to her advantage by the English language teacher to motivate learners towards language learning. A language teacher can spin stories successfully in the classroom to teach listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Listening and concentration are the primary skills that language learners acquire through stories. Below are some of the many activities that can be woven into storytelling to enrich language learning.

Dramatization/role play: The simplest and perhaps most popular activity is to get learners to dramatize or role play a story. Puppets of different kinds and voice-overs can be used successfully to bring interest in the narration. This activity can be used to enhance listening and speaking skills. When students choose a story to dramatize they also improve their reading skills.

The author is Associate Professor at Calorx Teachers’ University, Ahmedabad. She can be reached at ratnar_p@yahoo.co.in.

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