К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010
Автор: Васильева Т. А.
Telling and reading stories is a central part
of classroom life. Of course, some people are
'born' storytellers, but that applies to any ability we have. The fact is that we can all improve our
storytelling and story reading, and
that is what matters.
Answering the question
“telling or reading aloud?” we consider the following things to be important:
We need both salt and pepper in our
cooking. Why should we want to say that one is better than another? Telling and
reading aloud both have their strong points.
That is why we consider the following
points of reading aloud good:
1) There is no need to learn the story;
2) There is no need to worry about making
mistakes in English;
3) If to read the story then the children
will always hear exactly the same text and this will help them to predict what
is to come;
4) It demonstrates that books are a source
of interesting ideas and so encourages reading;
5) The children can, perhaps, borrow the
6) Pictures in the book help the children’s
But on the same breath telling also has
1) The children feel that the teacher is
giving them something very personal. The story is his; it is not coming out of
2) Children, these days, are rarely used to
the experience of hearing someone tell a story and it can have a powerful
effect on them;
3) It is often easier to understand a story
being told than one which is read aloud:
- It is natural to repeat oneself when
- The teacher can see the children’s faces
and bodies and respond to their lack of comprehension, their joy, and their
immediate concerns more readily;
- The teacher can make use of his body more
effectively to heighten meaning;
- The teacher can use the language he knows
the children know.
One of the best ways
of improving your English is to learn stories—to internalize a ten-minute flow
of English. Traditional teaching did not develop fluency. Oral fluency needs
and encouragement to develop, and that applies to the teacher as well as to the
children. If the teacher learns a story he/she has a real purpose - to
communicate it to the children. But if teacher’s English is not very fluent and
accurate then that is an excellent reason for telling stories to children.
While choosing stories
we suggest teacher’s using the following points describing the characteristics
of the stories to be chosen. It will be better to choose the story:
- which will engage the
children within the first few lines;
- which the teacher
- which is appropriate
- which the children will
understand well enough to enjoy;
- which offers the
children a rich experience of language;
- which does not have
long descriptive passages;
- which is right for the
occasion and in its relation with other things the teacher is doing with
- which the teacher
feels he can tell well [1, p. 237].
To make the pupils be involved in the
process, to make them be interested in the story we suggest different ways of
beginning. They are:
- To talk
with the children about their experience of what the teacher knows will be a
central topic of the story;
- To begin with an
explicit introduction to the story;
- To begin without any
preparation at all, directly with the first line of the story, or with Once upon a
- Not to begin until
having everyone's attention and total silence unless there is no confidence that the
sheer power of telling is going to quieten them down [1, p. 340].
The teacher must tell stories in his own
way and that must be a normal part of him. It
is possible to heighten slightly what he is and see everything about himself
positively. If the teacher is a quiet sort of person, then he/she chooses the stories he/she like and tell them
quietly. But, whatever kind of personality
the teacher has, he/she must give
himself/herself totally to his/her story and to his/her listeners if he/she
wants to get back a strong quality of listening and appreciation from them [4, p.35].
It is also important to pay attention to
the voice. The potential variety of the
human voice includes: pitch, volume, rhythm, softness/harshness, pace, and
pause. Making use of this variety
depends on the story, the personality of the teller, and the listeners. Of
course, a dramatic use of the full variety
of all of these qualities would often be inappropriate. On the other hand, many people do not make sufficient
use of this potential richness, and produce a monotone.
But there are some
basic things that we can all do:
- Sit or stand so that
to breathe easily – not to be 'all hunched up';
- Keep breathing while
talking so not to become breathless;
- Speak loudly enough
for the children at the back to hear easily, but not by using a harsh 'teacher's voice'
designed to cut through school corridors and across school playgrounds;
- Adopt a different
voice for the narrator and for each of the characters. Make these voices very
different: high/low, soft/ harsh.
We suggest a simple
experiment – to try saying a very ordinary sentence so that it sounds like the
start of an amazing story. For example, / got up this morning and opened
the curtain. A second experiment - to try saying the sentence in several moods:
happily, unhappily, wickedly, innocently, in a thoughtful way, in a casual way,
in a frightened way:
- Pace and pause: the
pause is one of the most powerful of all qualities in storytelling and
reading. The listeners have to become active in order to fill it in - they try
to predict what the teacher will say next. It is one of the most vital elements in
dramatic storytelling. Using it at key moments is very useful;
- The teacher should
remember that in English we tend to stress the important words in a sentence.
This helps to convey meaning.
When scrutinizing the language of the stories we have found
out a great variety of facts. And they should be considered when choosing the
First of all the
teacher must be prepared to pre-teach important words and phrases which are an intrinsic part of
the story. They might be important for the meaning of the story (for
example, knights is an important word in “Lancelot”), or they might be important for their play on words and sounds (for example, the repetition
of dark, dark, in 'In a dark, dark, town') [3, p. 176].
Even simple words can
be spoken as if they are important. The teacher should speak slowly and enjoy
the sound of the words he says. Of course, this is easier to do in one's mother
tongue than in a foreign language. A feeling of rhythm and rhyme almost
certainly helps people to learn and remember. Stories in verse are loved and
There should be
confidence of how to begin and finish the story. Many say that the first and the last lines should be learnt by heart.
One more important
point for discussion is the body and face. It is probably true that we
communicate as much or more through our bodily and facial movement than we do
by the words
we use. We can move quickly or slowly, jerkily or smoothly, with grand gestures, or
with minor movements of our eyebrows. We can remain seated or we can move and act out
not only the players within our story but even inanimate objects. The way we
make use of this potential depends on our nature and on the nature of the story
and the listeners [2, p.45].
Just as, in general,
less experienced teachers employ a monotonous voice, so they also fail to use
the full potential of their body for communication. Indeed, they may use their
face to communicate their primary concern, their own anxiety, rather than the quality
of the story. Here we suggest some tips:
- If to tell a story
rather than to read aloud from a book, the teacher can easily move like Little Red Riding
Hood as she picks the flowers, or he/she can hold up one of his/her hands in
front of his/her face and slowly look round it with a wicked smile to represent the
wolf. As the teacher creeps into the dark cave with the little Indian boy
he/she can hold
out his/her hands and pretend to be putting them down on the ground very, very
slowly and can switch his/her eyes from side to side as if searching the darkness;
- Very often we find
that we begin to make the action with our body a split second before we refer
to it. So, for example, we might hold up our hand to our ear and switch our
eyes to and for just a moment before we say, 'He listened';
- The teacher should make
movements simple, slow, and never apologetic. Body movements in storytelling
should be just a little slower and bigger than in normal conversation. The children should
be given time to appreciate teacher’s movements and time to feel how they contribute to
the meaning of the story. We are gripped by stories and storytellers because
we feel they really know what they are doing and saying; storytelling must be
clear and simple and not fleeting and confusing like normal life;
- Looking at people when
telling the story is very important. It doesn't do any harm to look at one particular
child for several moments when telling the story. Other children feel that
their teacher is concentrating on them and not just on the story [5, p. 432].
But while telling the
story teachers can come across different interruptions. One child might chatter
to a neighbor. The school caretaker might knock at the door. Someone might drop
Children not paying attention can be
treated in the following way:
- If it is several children,
it may be that the storyteller is not being dramatic enough;
- It is possible to
involve the children, for example, by asking them what they would do in the
situation in the story.
The important thing is
not to break the magic spell. It is the teacher who can lift the children off
the ground and he is holding them there.
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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010