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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 book afterwards;

6) Pictures in the book help the children’s understanding.

But on the same breath telling also has positive influence:

1) The children feel that the teacher is giving them something very personal. The story is his; it is not coming out of a book;

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 speaking;

- 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 time, opportunity, 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 likes;

- which is appropriate for children;

- 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 the children;

- 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 time;

- 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 story.

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 effective.

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 body and 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 a book.

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.


1. Gail Ellis. The storytelling handbook. A guide for primary teachers of English/ Gail Ellis, Jean Brewster. – Gail Ellis and Jean Brewster: 1991. – 276 p.

2. Andrew Wright. Storytelling with children. Resource books for teachers/ Andrew Wright; series editor Alan Maley. – Oxford University Press: 1997. – 224 p.

3. Andrew Wright. Creating stories with children. Resource books for teachers/ Andrew Wright; series editor Alan Maley. – Oxford University Press: 1997. – 136 p.

4. Penny Ur. Teaching listening comprehension. Cambridge handbooks for language teachers/ Penny Ur; series editor Penny Ur. – Cambridge University Press: 2003. – P. 47-164.

5. Gillian Porter Ladousse. Role play. Resource books for teachers/ Gillian Porter Ladousse; series editor Alan Maley. – Oxford University Press: 1997. – 181 p.

6. Virginia French Allen. Techniques in teaching vocabulary/ Virginia French Allen; series editors Russell N. Campbell, William E. Rutherford. – Oxford University Press: 1993. – 136 p.

7. Jill Hadfield. Classroom Dynamics. Resource books for teachers/ Jill Hadfield; series editor Alan Malley. – Oxford University Press: 1997. – P. 72-79.

8. Jogn Morgan. Vocabulary. Resource books for teachers/ John Morgan, Mario Rinvolucri; series editor Alan Malley. – Oxford University Press: 2002. – 126 p.

9. Goodith White. Listening. Resource for teachers/ Goodish White; series editor Alan Malley. – Oxford University Press: 1998. – 144 p.

10. Tony Lynch. Communication in the language classroom. Oxford handbooks for language teachers/ Tony Lynch. – Oxford University Press: 2001. – 174 p.

11. Ruth Gairns. Working with words. A guide to teaching and learning vocabulary. Cambridge handbooks for language teachers/ Ruth Gairns, Stuart Redman; series editor Penny Ur. – Cambridge University Press: 2003. – 200 p.

12. Kathleen Graves. Designing language courses. A guide for teachers/ Katheleen Graves; series editor Donald Freeman. – Heinle and Heinle: 2000. – 308 p.

13. Ronald V. Whaite. New ways in teaching writing/ Ronald V/ Whaite; series editor Jack C. Richards. – TESOL: 1995. – 270 p.

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2010

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