Storytelling in Schools
Folktales: A Creative Way to Involve Students in Meeting the National Standards by Susan M. Smith-Johnson
Paper presented at the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (April 4, 1997)
Keywords: elementary education, middle school, secondary school
This paper describes the use of folktales in the classroom, noting the instructional benefits, challenges and potential problems, and techniques for presenting and expanding on the stories. Of nine folktales told during the school year, five are told in English and four in Spanish, and most are closely tied to the social studies curriculum. Four stories come from Latin America and coordinate with Spanish units.
Benefits of using folktales include use of authentic language and high student interest.
Challenges include finding the appropriate language level and providing background information, and the potential for a story being unsuccessful with students.
Pre-storytelling activities, both for the teacher and for the class, are outlined, considerations in selecting stories (content, language level, length, source) are discussed, and approaches for involving students in the storytelling are detailed.
Other issues addressed include enhancing student comprehension and encouraging students' classroom response to the stories. Ways in which such stories correlate with the National Standards for Foreign Language Education are examined.
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