Friday, November 9, 2012

Learning from Great Storytellers

What can storytelling offer?
Children have an innate love of stories. Stories create magic and a sense of wonder at the world. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others. Storytelling is a unique way for students to develop an understanding, respect and appreciation for other cultures, and can promote a positive attitude to people from different lands, races and religions.  -
British Council BBC

(click HERE to go to the British Council BBC website that outlines the benefits and techniques of storytelling.)

How true! Stories draw us in and captivate our attention, especially if told by someone that has a talent for sharing stories.  As an example, think of Morgan Freeman, when he narrates a story at the beginning of a movie. I find myself wanting to listen to Morgan and at times disappointed when he stops narrating and the movie begins.  That's how quickly he has captivated my attention.
Storytelling is a gift but there are techniques we can learn from great storytellers. I found a website by the Resident Storytelling Company called Story Circle at Proctors. The website was created to share information about "Tellabration 2012" an event in which great storytellers gather together and share their talents.  The first story I clicked on was called "The Edge of the World" a folktale told by Betty Cassidy.  Even though it is entirely different than creating a story with a group of students, a la TPRS, I was intrigued with how she told the story, her pacing, her expressions, tone of voice, everything...that made me want to keep listening to see what happens at the end.   

Here is a video of Betty telling the folktale "The Edge of the World" (in English):

What a great new resource for stories to use in class.  As I listen to the stories, I can find structures that students need more repetition on or look for new structures that are common that I can introduce before telling this story.  This story could be used as part of a listening comprehension activity after the vocabulary and structures are taught in previous mini-stories. 

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