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Storytelling in the EFL classroom

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Storytelling is almost as old a language itself. In fact, some cultures still use spoken stories to pass on information to younger generations because the language is not written down. Storytelling is also not just for children; it covers the entire age range of the population and covers all aspects of life: Explaining where a good hunting area is, passing on culture, entertaining and generally educating. The important thing to remember is that when telling stories, the listener has to do half the work. The listener has to make the image of what is being described; the listener is indeed as creative as the story teller.

Every one of us tells stories, narratives, or jokes etc., not just us loquacious individuals. It is mainly through this process that ones own language is acquired. Language in this case does not mean vocabulary but rather the general feel, pitch, flow and rhythm which all languages have. I have heard it said by a linguist on a BBC radio program, that in order to learn a foreign language one really needs to be listening to the target language for about six months before starting to speak it. Of course this 'listening' does not mean listening for meaning and understanding, but rather as previously mentioned, listening to the general feel, pitch, flow and rhythm as well as the actual phonetics.

EFL Storytelling with CAPTUR

Storytelling with CAPTUR is a method whereby the teller of the story or narrative assigns colours, letters or shapes on the CAPTUR paddle to key words. Then as the key words crop up in the story, the listeners show the appropriate assigned colour, shape or letter.

So for example you might want introduce the names of some animals to children: an elephant, a gorilla, a kangaroo and a peacock. So assign colours to these animals. The elephant is 'yellow', the gorilla is 'green', the kangaroo is 'blue' and the peacock is red'. You may want to put your CAPTUR board magnets on the board with pictures of the animals so that students are not required to remember the colour assignment, since the aim of the exercise is to get students respond with the correct colour when they hear the animal mentioned, something we call concentrated listening.

So now tell your story about the visit to the zoo and the animals you saw. I would no doubt want to mention the target animals quite a few times in order to keep the concentration level high.

So what's the point of telling a story when you could just play games with animal cards or point to the pictures and have the students shout out the correct word? Well that is all well and good and indeed quite valid but when it comes to stringing words or sounds together in sentences, many of our students are simply not getting enough listening of that kind. In fact one of the main aims of CAPTUR methodologies is to allow teachers to speak in complete sentences to students in order to elicit responses. And with the CAPTUR paddles, storytelling becomes one more very active process in the classroom.

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May 21, 2016 at PanSIG Conference in Okinawa We're giving a demonstration of Captur paddles at the PanSIG conference in Okinawa. The conference dates are May 20-23, 2016; complete details are available on the PanSIG conference website.…