If I tell a story and many people fail to create mental pictures from my text then I am pretty sure the story is wrong for them, the time or day is wrong or I have somehow told the story badly.

Dear Everybody,

                        I would suggest that deep language learning is bound to happen in the students' minds if the telling of a story is communcatively powerful.

                        The way I judge the success or otherwise of a stroy-telling lesson is the richness of the elaboration and transformation that takes places within the students.

                        If I tell a story and many people fail to create mental pictures from my text then I am pretty sure the story is wrong for them, the time or day is wrong or I have somehow told the story badly.

                        If I tell a story and and most students  create mental pictures but these tend to be black and white, small and bounded by frames then this feels like a mediocre reception of the tale.

                       If I tell a story and a good number of students have mentally created big screen mental movies then I can be sure that they are reasonably involved with the text and its language.

                       I can be sure that I have succeeded best with those students who no longer see the story as pictures "out there" but actually imagine themselves to be in the space where the story is played out. Occasionally a student will become so involved that they actually say " I imagined I was the hero". This then is a case of full association.

Listeners to a story can be in any of these states of mind:  

wool-gathering and inattention, dreaming about their next meal...

listening to the foreign words and getting the vague gist

Listening to the language and beginning to create multi-sensory mental representations

Creating vivid and powerful repesentations

Becoming so associated that they are living in the space of the story

mentally taking the role of the story protagonist

 

If the the telling is powerful I do not have to worry about whether the students have noticed new irregular past tense verbs or whether they have been aware of the triple use of the  second conditional etc..... If their reception of the story is powerful, if their elaboration is vivid...their unconscious minds will take care of the new bits of language.

To tell a story well I need to choose a story I am deeply connected with, I need good rapport with most of the students in the class and I need to really enjoy the story myself as I tell it.

I wonder how all this strikes you? I am talking here about an artisitic activity. However you may feel that I am waxing too lyrical and that language teaching is and should be a much more rational and sensible, step-by-step process than I am making out.

My contention is that language will be quickly assimilated by students if the story-listening experience enchants them and opens up their creative imaginations.

There have to be readers of this blog who disagree with my contention!

Warmly yours, MArio

 

 

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