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Teach English in CaihuAping Zhen - Zhuzhou Shi
Even before we were born, our parents have already told us many things. Countless of tummies have been rubbed and an immeasurable number of stories have been shared- from the interesting to the mundane. It’s no secret that storytelling has always been part of people’s way of life. Stories have been passed on for generations through different means such as cave drawings, books, or via word of mouth. Each country, religion, culture, and community around the world has got their own stories to tell. Stories have shaped us into the person that we are today and it is now shaping our children through its impact on their education. The early childhood classroom is an important place wherein young children’s language skills are developed. Meaningful experiences, during these early years, can provide language opportunities to enhance, reinforce, and sustain language growth (Genishi, 1988; Fillmore & Snow, 2000). Early childhood teachers can provide opportunities for young children to play with language, while gaining an appreciation of the sounds and meanings of words (Rubin & Wilson, 1995). In addition, children’s vocabulary are greatly improved as they try to find out what words mean and use it in their day to day lives. There are so many other benefits to using stories in early childhood classrooms. Through stories, drama, and role-play, children develop understanding of themselves and the world around them. Their interest, attention, and imagination are developed as well. Stories are great jump-off points for a variety of activities and topics that will not only deepen children’s understanding but will also cultivate their love of learning. Having taught children and teenagers for ten years now, I’ve found that people’s love for stories is timeless and that there will always be a story to capture one’s interest. When I was teaching in Early Years, we would have D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read) every morning for 15 minutes. We treated reading and storytelling with utmost importance and care- not just something that children are made to do after an activity. I remember my 3-5 year old students bringing in their favorite books in school to show their friends. We would read and talk about their books and use them in our activities in class. I saw how students’ language abilities progressed as they tried their hardest to be able to read their favorite books on their own as well as read books that other students have brought in. I saw how their personalities blossomed with every story that we shared. It was amazing to hear them ask questions after questions about the stories that we have discussed and how they related that to their surroundings and their own lives. My students were developing their language skills, critical and creative thinking skills, emotional skills, and social skills without even knowing it. Apart from this, I would like to share one particular example of just how powerful stories and storytelling are in language learning and in learning as a whole. Back in 2017, I was teaching in Malaysia and I had a 6-year-old boy come join our class. He had not studied English formally and didn’t speak in English. After just 3 months of different language activities, countless storytelling activities, and communication classes, he was able to string words in English and form his own sentences. He grew to love English as it gave him the tool to get his message across to everyone. Furthermore, he loved reading books in English. He goes through a whirlwind of emotions when he reads and when he listens to stories. He was ecstatic when World Book Day came and he got to dress up as his favorite character. He came in school as Sam I am from Dr. Seuss’ Book, “Green Eggs and Ham.” It was really a proud teacher moment for me. To sum up, stories and storytelling should never be taken for granted or set aside in learning, most especially in early childhood education. They develop children’s language skills holistically and influences children in ways that we could never imagine. Without a doubt, storytelling should be indispensable in teaching and learning.