The Power of Stories for English Learning in Early Childhood
"Our lives gain meaning only when we tell our story". -David Steindl-Rast. In our case, stories not only add meaning to our lives in general but are very important in rendering language learning interesting and creative as our specific subject essay will demonstrate. Stories are an effective model for learning the English language through which we can develop the four language skills writing, speaking, listening, and reading. So why and how stories can enable us to effectively learn the English language?
Why stories are so important for English learning in early childhood?
First of all, the fact that we have nowadays a vast ocean of stories that tackle a variety of subjects and issues, makes it quite impossible for someone not to find a story that would captivate their passion and interest. This is an advantage, as long as we can satisfy most if not all of our students' tastes and interests, we would make learning more student-centered, and hence effective. Secondly, the fact that we are dealing with young students makes it challenging to decide on which mechanism to use in our teaching. As young students are more in need of vocabulary, impressively stories can be a good way and a source core to learn a great deal of vocabulary, by varying our stories' subjects our students can encounter an abundance of new words.
Surely, it seems somewhat pointless to teach vocabulary as individual words, but stories not only teach words independently they are always used in connection with other words, in a context, and for a real-life example. Have we thought of teaching grammar through stories? Yes, we can not only teach vocabulary, through stories we can also teach grammar as it is used to serve the storyline; Through reading or hearing a story a student gets the opportunity to familiarize him/herself with the grammatical structures, and later if they look up the grammar rules, it is to confirm or refine the understanding that they already have about them.
How stories can be important for English learning in early childhood? Or how can we use them to develop the four language skills?
Choosing the right story theme that can interest our students will motivate them to listen, read, or write a story, otherwise, we can encourage them to tell us about their favorite one. When students read or listen to stories we expose them to the language and language patterns, and consequently, we prompt them to create or enhance previously acquired language input and improve their oral competence. On the other hand, when we ask students to write a story this serves to model their writing style, and similarly encouraging a student to tell us about a story they love should help us model their speaking skills through monitoring their pronunciation and language use. These four skills as implied, are working coherently and integrally in the sense that we can not expect a student to produce the language if he/she has not been exposed to it already.
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In essence, whether stories are to be read, to be written, listened to, or to be told by our students they are effective and very useful if included properly in the teaching process. We can vary the topics and the techniques to introduce the stories as teaching activities, with consideration of the students' interests, the language point which we are willing to focus on, and not to forget the language skill we want our students to be able to produce or practice by the end of the lesson. In conclusion, stories can help our students improve their vocabulary, their use of grammar, their expressiveness, and ace the target language in general.
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