Teach English in Zhuogang Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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This summary is based on #94, The importance of stories for English learning in early childhood. I’ve always felt that using stories to teach kids was essential. Even with all the many modern gadgets that fascinate kids today, they still want to hear stories—they may just be reading them from a tablet! Stories capture the imagination of children, which helps bring them into the lesson, even when the foreign language seems tough. Stories can also introduce young students to the language the teachers want them to learn, which is a better way than constant vocabulary lists. Stories can also lead to more stories, and that means more learning, more exposure to the foreign language. First off, stories can be all about imagination, which is something kids have in abundance and use all the time. This stimulation of the imagination can be a big help in getting kids interested in the lesson you’re trying to do. We read throughout the CTEYL course that many kids have short attention spans. This is especially true of the younger ones. So, what do you do to get them to pay attention? One way is to grab it by introducing a story. Whether you provide pictures or not, the kids will be imagining what’s happening, and that means engagement. This capture of their attention can be very important when kids are learning a foreign language like English. Though I’ve found that many young learners seem to like learning foreign words and phrases, it’s still work. As fascinating as it can be, it can still become a chore they won’t want to do. Next, stories are a useful way of not only introducing the vocabulary you want your students to learn, but of helping them understand the use of the vocabulary in context. No kid wants to sit down and memorize a list of vocabulary words. They’d probably find that boring. It seems too much like school work. And, the words seem to be out there on their own. But put the vocabulary in a story, and you’ve made the activity more interesting. You’ve put the words in a world where they mean more. You can’t really teach English—and students can’t learn it—without giving them the vocabulary they need to get by with the language. The use of stories is a great way to do this. Finally, stories in the classroom can lead to stories outside the classroom, and that means more learning. As kids find a love of reading and hearing stories, they’ll want more. Since they may not get enough in class, they’ll look for it when they’re not in school. So many parents understand the importance of stories for their kids’ development, so they use them at home. If that’s reinforced in the classroom, kids get interested in something that can be a key to learning many topics. And stories aren’t just for introducing vocabulary. As we learned in Unit 5, stories “are good for modeling writing styles.” The more kids read and hear stories, the more they take in about how language is used, about how to write. I’ve always told my students that hearing and speaking the foreign language in class isn’t enough. They need to get more time with it, and that means outside of class. Another point I should mention, though it may seem obvious, would be that stories can be used for not only reading and listening, but speaking and writing, as well. Story time in the classroom can make way for book reports, talks on the subject, creative writing, and a host of many other activities, all of which help with language learning. I can’t imagine teaching kids—or Young Learners—without using stories. I believe it’s especially important for learning a foreign language. As with being around conversations, stories help them learn how the language works, but with the added fun of an adventure.