Using Storytelling with Young Learners
Using storytelling with young learners is a great way to put language into a fun context.
I recently used Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson with a group of young learners. The students (and I) had great fun.
I split the story into sections, about 2 or 3 pages long. I was them able to focus on the language on those pages over a lesson. So the first few pages we looked at a lot of the vocabulary, primarily because a lot of the words were new to the students, and were pertinent to the storyline. They were a lot of fun doing flash card games, realia where possible and having fun looking at the pronunciation. The students really responded because they had a vested interest in understanding the language so that they could follow the story.
We also had a lot of enjoyment in one class looking at the characters. The students did a team reading activity, where information is stuck on the wall, and they must find out answers to questions about the characters. This activity is excellent for getting the students out of their seats, letting off steam. I used a feedback activity to settle them back down. You’ll definitely need something to do for excitement management.
At the end of each lesson, I got the students sitting on the floor, on the carpet, and read (or re-read) the story to them. It’s an excellent chance for the students to practice their listening skills and also to bring the book alive.
Room on the Broom is a great children’s book, with lots of illustrations to help some of the weaker students understand the story. It’s written in the simple past tense. This gave us an ideal language focus for the last lesson. For a writing task, I had the students write a postcard about the story from the point of view of their favourite character. For some differentiation between learners, I gave differing amounts of scaffolding for the writing. The postcard served as an excellent end to the book and also a great way to add closure to the story. It also gave the students a chance to take something home for ‘take home value’.