Teach English in Shaodian Zhen - Zhumadian Shi

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The art of storytelling goes back thousands of years and is an intrinsic part of human nature. As such, storytelling is a universal culture building phenomenon which all cultures can collectively and individually relate to. Storytelling as a teaching tool is nothing new and has been used throughout the ages and across cultures in relaying histories, moral lessons, and myths from one generation to another. Thus, it comes as no surprise that storytelling acts as an important tool for English learning in early childhood education. Storytelling in the classroom is a pliable and adaptable tool that can be used in each of the ESA phases of teaching. According to marketing blogger Clifford Chi’s 15 Inspiring Storytelling Quotes to Help You Move an Audience, “Modern neurological research proves that storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and forge close, personal bonds” (2019). Young children especially love listening to stories. Used in the engage phase, stories have the ability to grab the students’ full attention as they become immersed through engagement. According to Jonathan Gottschall, in his book, The Storytelling Animal: How stories make us human, “ The witchery of stories allows our brains to pull us fully into a story, Our imaginations fill in the scene, as our present circumstances and surroundings fade into the background of our consciousness… Our brains have been biologically programmed to do this” (2012). This allows students to commit to the information presented without being distracted by their surroundings as it conditions their brains to receive information and prepares their thinking and concentration levels for the study phase of the lesson. During the study phase, stories can serve as an integral part of not only teaching receptive skills, but also productive skills. When teaching more technical grammar lessons, storytelling can be used to relay information in a more memorable way. According to Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow in their book The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You, “Something surprising happens when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: More of our brains light up. When we hear a story, the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind…When more of your brain is at work at a given point of time, the chances that your brain will remember the work it did increases exponentially” (2018). For example, you can teach vowels to young learners by telling them the story about the lion who says “AE, I O U a favor” to a mouse named AE, after he helped him remove a thorn from his foot. Children will remember the story (and the often repeated name of the brave and lovable protagonist “AE” and his reward for his bravery) better than they would be able to remember the isolated letters A, E, I, O, U with little to no meaningful context. During the activate phase learners can create their own stories or act out familiar tales and improvise new dialogue with the vocabulary they know. This creates an opportunity for the students to become the storyteller and to use their language skills in an active and creative way. It also provides context to English learning as they relay meaningful information using the language skills they possess. An important part of teaching English as a foreign language in a non-English speaking country is to also teach the cultural context of English as it is observed in the countries where it is spoken as a first language. Storytelling serves as an integral part of culture building. It is universal. Storytelling can be found in all the cultures around the world. As a teacher who has taught English and Drama across four different continents, I was fascinated by the similarities in folktales and fairytales from different corners of the globe. These similarities help create recognition and improves association with the L2 by drawing on shared experiences and context. Children’s faces would light up when recognizing connections or similarities between Western stories and stories from their home countries. Stories are important tools for English learning in early childhood because storytelling is a fun, entertaining, and effective way to learn English. It activates imagination and draws a person in. It is a pliable tool in the classroom and can be used in many different ways to teach memorable and engaging lessons in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It serves as a bridge connecting cultures and creating context. Storytelling actively teaches language skills by using it in creative ways and adds a “bit of magic” that can turn a good lesson into a great lesson. For these reasons, storytelling serves as an integral part of language acquisition for younger learners. Bibliography J Gottschall. (2012), The Storytelling Animal: How stories make us human. Mariner Books J Lazauskas, S Snow (2018), The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You. Wiley Publishers Clifford Chi, 15 Inspiring Storytelling Quotes to Help You Move an Audience, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/storytelling-quotes