Storytelling is an art of using colorful words with some actions to reveal the elements of a story. Often done to bring joy and enjoyment, it subliminally gives wisdom to the audience. Stories often contain morals and a lesson for readers to learn. Since the use of images and actions are limited, storytelling compels the listeners to create their own mental image and expand on their interpretation of the topic. With the enjoyment it brings, retention of the message is enhanced.
The use of storytelling in language teaching is an effective way of exposing students to the target language. It is an essential tool in conveying messages to students of diverse interests. Considered the oldest education practice, it has made passing of beliefs, traditions and appreciation of history to generations possible.
With many subjects taught best by elaborating on examples, storytelling is an effective way to teach variety topics. Though mainly considered an essential part of language curriculum, storytelling can actually be used in teaching history, society, and the arts. Listening to stories helps inculcate values in the students’ minds, helping them become even more motivated, driven and inspired to achieve things by learning from the mistakes and victories of the characters.
Since storytelling is present in almost all cultures at any given time, it can help bridge cultural gaps in a diverse classroom. It also teaches cultural sensitivity by developing the students’ knowledge of their social roles and expectations. Telling stories from countries where your student came from creates awareness, deeper understanding, and appreciation of their differences. When students have deeper understanding of their individual backgrounds, creating a cooperative classroom with diverse cultures can be made easy.
In the age of technology, economic race, and self-sufficiency, storytelling can help students understand the true essence of the human experience. Characters in the story are excellent sources of lessons for learning and building desirable behaviors and character a person needed in order to live fuller life. With the listeners’ emotional involvement, it can be utilized to teach not just language but the practices of a culture where that language is used.
An interesting story keeps the students hooked. As they are eager to know the next part of the story, they do not only develop concentration but also sharpens listening skill. It helps students associate listening with getting information and understanding of the over-all contexts of stories.
Listening to stories stimulates thought processes. When teachers make use of storytelling, students are challenged to draw conclusions by creating images for characters as they are presented in the story. Judgment and inferences can often be based on the learners’ experiences, so they are likely to interpret stories by making use of their realities.
Even a veteran storyteller needs to upgrade to new techniques, and eventually new materials that fit the interest of this generation. There is no generic formula of what is the perfect material for storytelling as it should be chosen based on the needs and interests of the audience. In most cases, we choose materials that we personally treasured and loved to listen to as kids. This would generally include fairy tales and folklore.
Bringing the characters in the story to life makes storytelling fun as it enables the audience to see, feel, and hear exactly what the character wanted them to. Remember that without emotion, stories become basically dead. It is then important that the teacher knows the stories by heart. When the teacher knows the content of the story and the message embedded in it, it is easier to characterize. Read and internalize the characters and practice them even just in front the mirror. Convey how the characters feel by making use of body language, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice.
Even the most reluctant reader or learner can be motivated to listen to an interesting story. Considered as one of the ways to address literacy, storytelling helps develop students’ competencies in all areas of the language by modeling oral skills, writing, and comprehension. Storytelling exposes the students to reading and listening, and post-storytelling activities help develop speaking and writing. Teachers who utilize storytelling should choose materials that fit the needs of the students and of the curriculum.
As most children learn through visual representations, using props in storytelling sessions foster deeper understanding and appreciation of materials. Props help liven up the lines and hook the students making them concentrate more. Handy props are the most popular to use in classrooms. This can range from flowers, ball, doll, or a piece of cloth. The use of props in storytelling extends a child's attention span and increases their learning experiences.
As storytelling relies on the collaboration of both the teller and the audience, it is best practiced with student participation. Tell story the way that excites students to talk and interact. Involving students can be as simple as making them repeat some lines you wanted to emphasize. Alternately, you can check students’ comprehension by asking them to act out some parts of the story. For younger learners, this can even be done by animal sound reproductions. After telling the story, the teacher can ask students for the possible ending or solicit questions for other class members to answer.
Students’ experiences are best molded with descriptive and language skills development. When students enjoy learning, they are not only creating a collection of knowledge but are constantly looking for ways to know things that interest them. With their curiosity for learning comes their perspective of the world. Studies reveal that storytelling is an effective way for increasing the literacy level. This is because it enhances all the language skills- reading, listening, speaking and writing- all in one. Because storytelling is participatory in nature, students have greater exposure to language use.