Bbc Learning English

Karen Saxby is the author of the Storyfun series, published by Cambridge University Press. She also co-wrote the Fun For series, và is an experienced Cambridge Assessment English consultant. In this article, she explores how stories can be used to make young people"s language learning meaningful and memorable.

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As a child, I loved sitting on my grandfather"s lap while he read me stories. I remember most of them even though I am now a grandparent, too! As a child, I was blissfully unaware that, as I listened khổng lồ the stories, I was also learning new words và ways in which those new words combined to lớn communicate ideas và life lessons.

A good story encourages us lớn turn the next page & read more. We want to lớn find out what happens next & what the main characters do & what they say lớn each other. We may feel excited, sad, afraid, angry or really happy. This is because the experience of reading or listening to a story is much more likely to lớn make us "feel" that we are part of the story, too. Just lượt thích in our "real" lives, we might love or hate different characters in the story. Perhaps we recognise ourselves or others in some of them. Perhaps we have similar problems.

Because of this natural empathy with the characters, our brains process the reading of stories differently from the way we read factual information. Our brains don"t always recognise the difference between an imagined situation và a real one so the characters become "alive" to us. What they say và do is therefore more meaningful. This is why the words & structures that relate a story"s events, descriptions và conversations are processed in this deeper way.

In fact, cultures all around the world have always used storytelling khổng lồ pass knowledge from one generation to another. Our ancestors understood very well that this was the best way to make sure our histories & information about how lớn relate to lớn others & to our world was not only understood, but remembered too. (Notice that the word ‘history’ contains the word ‘story’ – More accurately, the word ‘story’ derives from ‘history’.)

Encouraging your child to read or listen to lớn stories should therefore help them khổng lồ learn a second language in a way that is not only fun, but memorable.

Let"s take a quick look at learning vocabulary within a factual text or within a story. Imagine the readers are eight-year-olds interested in animals. In your opinion, are they more likely to lớn remember & want to lớn continue reading the first or second text?

Many birds và animals live in the world, for example, parrots, pandas, lions, leopards và rabbits. In the sea we can find whales, dolphins, sharks and octopuses.

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My younger brother is called Fred. Fred"s very interested in animals. He talks and asks questions about animals ALL the time! Fred"s really interested in parrots & pandas và lions and leopards and rabbits. But Fred"s favourite animals live in the sea. He has pictures of whales, dolphins, sharks và octopuses on all the walls of his bedroom.

From: Do whales have stomach aches? (Storyfun for Movers, Cambridge University Press, 2011).

When choosing second language story books, you might consider questions like:

Will your child easily identify with the central characters? Are they of similar ages for example?Will the events interest & excite, scare or amuse your child enough khổng lồ motivate them to continue reading?Is the story an appropriate length – not too short, not too long?Will the layout – the font, the titles, the amount of text on each page – appeal to lớn your child?Is it supported by illustrations that your young reader will enjoy looking at?

For your child lớn gain the maximum benefit và language learning from reading stories, consider the story"s language cấp độ carefully, too. Is the grammar & vocabulary not too easy but still accessible to lớn the reader? Would the language be similar to lớn that which your child might use in their first language? Would it support school work và help prepare for tests? Useful EFL publications such as Storyfun for Starters, Movers và Flyers và other graded readers are carefully written with these important considerations in mind.

But, of course, stories don"t only offer the young reader a chance khổng lồ read. The experience also creates an opportunity khổng lồ talk about the story. As a parent, you can encourage your child khổng lồ describe their favourite person, part of the story or picture. Their creativity might be developed by drawing new story pictures or even by writing their own short stories as a result.

If your child is reluctant lớn read or has little confidence in their ability khổng lồ read in another language, you might help them by reading the story khổng lồ them, stopping where necessary to lớn interact & ask questions like "What vày you think will happen next?" If you read lớn your children in a relaxed và fun way, they will subconsciously relate to lớn the reading & language learning process more confidently and positively. Of course, being read lớn by a parent, for whatever reason, is also simply a lovely way to nói qua quiet và close time.

The experience of reading or listening lớn a story allows us to lớn escape our own lives for a moment and live in another one in a fun & safe way. In the same magical experience, a goldmine of language may be learned, so vì chưng encourage your child khổng lồ read stories in their second language as well as their first!