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Teaching Language Through Story for Young Learners

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Telling story is one of Indonesia’s culture. Some twenty years ago, we could still listen the story read by storyteller in a radio. At that time, radio was the only mass media that can reach all walk of life. We wait for story time telling came. It was  four a o’clock in the afternoon. Mang Dinamara was one of our favorite story teller. My mother loved his story telling technique very much. She could shed tears when the story told a sad story, she would leave all her activities just to sit and listen to story.

 Another kind of story telling that is still alive until now is ‘wayang’ or puppet story telling. It needs a dalang or a story teller who is accompanied by musical instrument or gamelan players. We usually listen to the dalang story or wayang from the radio. But as the technology improve, now we can buy the CD or cassette that contain wayang story. One thing that makes me a bit worry and sad is that many teenagers consider listening wayang is old-fashioned thing that only done by old orthodox man.

As education in Indonesia adopts the methodologies apply in western. It is easy to find that Indonesia introduce story which is not taken from local.  Cinderella, Snow White, and other western stories are known around children rather than Si Bedog Panjang, Kuya jeung Monyet, or any other folktales.  Teaching moral and also entertain can be given through story. Introducing basic moral of right and wrong, heroic action, and noble deed may be given in fun way to young learners. It is teacher’s responsibility to preserve and maintain culture through teaching. Teachers can pick thousand stories that are scattered all over Indonesia.

 Here is one of statement proposed by Cameron (2001: 159-179)  on teaching young learners through stories.

 Stories and Themes as Holistic Approaches to Language teaching and learning

     Stories facilitate teacher to bring children to their imaginary world, language that is created based on the level of difficulties.  Meanwhile theme can be started from an overarching topic that then branched out in many different directions so that children can pursue their personal interest through foreign language. Stories can make the world be brought into the classroom. teacher decides the content that accessible to learners and to construct activities that offer language learning opportunities. Skills and language knowledge of a text book writers are needed.

     Stories are frequently claimed to bring many benefits to young learners classrooms, including  language development (Wright, 1997; Garvie, 1990 cited in Cameron, 2001: 160). Cameron added that the power attributed to stories, which sometimes seems to move toward the mystical and magical, is probably generated by their links into poetics and literature in one direction and to the warmth of early childhood experiences in another . Stories can serve as metaphors foe society or for our deepest psyche (Bettelheim, 1976), and parent-child story reading can be rich and intimate events that contrast sharply with the linear aridity of syllabuses and some course books (Garton and Pratt 1998).

 The discourse organization of stories

      events that happens at different points in time; they occur in a temporal sequence

      thematic structure. The prototypical features of stories are: (1) an opening: often formulaic in fairy tales (Once upon a time…) (2) introduction of characters, (3) description of setting, (4) introduction of problem, (5) a series of event, (6) the resolution of the problem, (7) a closing : often formulaic in fairy tales — they lived happily ever after, (8) a moral: which may or may not explicitly stated.

Language use in stories

      Children’s stories contain uses of language that are considered typical of poetic and literary texts. These devices offer opportunities for foreign language learning. Stories have: (1) Parallelism ( pattern of predictability + surprise, or repetition + change), (2) rich vocabulary, (3) alliteration (words that have same initial consonant), (3) contrast (in character, action, setting), (4) metaphor, (5) intertextuality =   making reference within one text to aspects of other texts that have become part of shares cultural knowledge, (7) narrative= text concern the series of events/dialog=use of language as it would be spoken by the characters


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