Stories in the ESL Classroom: Are They Important for Language Learning?
For centuries, stories have been effective tools to express human being’s thoughts and experiences. Stories also have been built through generations to generations to share and connect people. Storytelling helps children’s development in a lot of ways. They help children boost their imagination and brain development, teach student language, and how to express their emotions, and improve the relationship between children and parents. Those are the reasons why teaching stories in English in early childhood is so important.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate An N. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First of all, English stories help children learn vocabulary.
Normally, the children’s storybooks are made with color pictures and short sentences. Children can almost understand the object in pictures in English because of their unlimited imagination. By looking at pictures and words in stories, children can remember the words. If their parents can teach them how to pronounce the words, they will remember it easier. From my teaching experience, I can list out some simple storybooks that help children improve their vocabularies such as Potato Pals, Peppa Pig, etc.
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Complexity of Speech
Secondly, as mentioned above, in stories, sentences are usually short, then the number of words in sentences shall be increased according to the increase in student’s level. By learning language through stories, children shall learn how words can be put together to make meaningful sentences and texts. This thing will help students to improve their language expression ability.
Thirdly, learning English stories improves children’s imagination and thinking skills to work out the meaning and predict what happens next. As we know, children’s imagination is unlimited. They are curious about the world and want to know how it is. They shall use their way of thinking to understand the story. By funny pictures and words in stories or by appealing ways of adult storytelling, children are attracted to stories and try to use their creative prediction to think about what will happen.
Next, children can learn the sounds, rhythm, and intonation.
For parents who can speak English fluently and correctly, they can read and tell stories to their kids, using natural tones to help children learn how to say the words with rhythm and intonation. These days, it is not too difficult to buy story books with audio reading the stories. For the parent who does not know English, they can turn the audio on and repeat the audio. This also helps children improve their listening skills as well.
Besides, stories help children develop their understanding of the world and life experiences.
Storybooks have various topics: family and friends, the animals, the universe, weather, nature, feelings, shopping, etc… A child can imagine how a mountain will be, or how a tiger looks by learning stories even if he or she just stays at home. Another child in a hot and humid country will know how the snowflakes look just because she/he has ever seen snowflakes in the books. By learning various topics, children’s knowledge shall be expanded and they will understand the world more.
Finally, storybooks for children also have the topics of school life, friends and family, moral stories, which teach children how to be a good person and how to express their feelings. Besides, when parents could spend time with their children to read or tell stories, or teachers do storytelling in the classroom shall definitely improve relationships between them and children. As you know, children need love and care to develop, a child raised with love and care shall be a good and caring person as well because he/she knows how to treat others.
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In conclusion, stories play an important role in English learning in early childhood because of the following reasons: increase children’s vocabulary and language expression ability, enhance their speaking and listening skills, help them expand their knowledge, connect them with family, friends, and everybody around them. With those mentioned benefits, children should be told stories when they are even little kids for them to learn English easier.
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