English has become the lingua franca of today’s world. It is widely spoken all over the globe.
However, it is often the case that it takes a lot of time to learn a good standard of the language, people resign from speaking English in public, others cannot climb up their career ladder because they don’t know the language well enough.
Storytelling is the first episode in a series called World of English prepared by a teacher-trainer of English. It is a series based on first-hand experience, presenting practical tips how to learn the language as well as funny stories from and outside the classroom. All covered in humour and good energy.
WE 001: Storytelling
Hi, my name is Sylvia, I’m passionate about languages, English in particular.
Welcome to my world, world of English.
The language I love most of all is English, and this is what I do professionally.
I’m an English teacher, I’ve been teaching for the last ten years more or less. It
gives me a lot of satisfaction, a lot of pride. I love observing my students, I love
looking at them and I love observing how they are developing and learning new
structures, words and expressions.
Emm, I decided to record podcasts and share my knowledge with my students
in this way because I love teaching, as I said at the very beginning, but I also love
radio. And podcasting resembles radio a lot. It is a fantastic opportunity that we
can record different sessions actually staying at home, not leaving anywhere.
Emm, of course, I’d like to tell you what my podcasts are going to be about
because it is the first one. So the podcasts will be in English, and this is the
decision I have made, to talk to you in English because I think it is a very natural
environment for myself and also it will help you train your ear a little bit, and help
you develop linguistically, help your learn new vocabulary and structures. Each
podcast is going to be about a different thing, they are going to have different
topics, different stories.
Underneath, I mean under the podcast that you are listening to you’ll get a
transcript, transcript of the whole text, and in this very text you’ve got all the
interesting, new perhaps words in bold so that you can learn them because you will
also get translation of them.
And today, the topic of my podcast is storytelling. I would like to explain why I
chose this title. And this is because I would like to present to you a different
method of teaching, or a different approach to teaching, different than the
regular one or different than the standard one. It is actually called storytelling.
As I said, it is not very popular but it was put forward many years ago. And the
idea is very simple. Some teachers, some linguists put forward an idea that
actually when you start learning a language you should start with telling stories. It
is a completely different approach because the approach that we know or the
approach that most students are familiar with it is starting with introducing
yourself, talking about your family and friends and presenting your daily routine.
I would like to tell you why this approach may actually help you, and there
are a few reasons why telling stories is a good way to start learning a language
with. First of all, it resembles this very natural way children learn they mother
tongues. Of course when they start learning their language, they don’t go to
school, they don’t learn grammar, but they just listen to stories, to different
stories that their parents tell them, to different stories that they hear from their
family members, brothers, sisters, from the radio, from TV. So storytelling is a very
natural way, not so much actually to learn the language, but to acquire it. And
here comes the difference between learning and acquiring a language. Learning
means that you do it in a more artificial way, right. So you go to school, you take
your books, you take notes, you take tests, so you learn something, and this is the
method that most of us use, most of us apply so we learn a language. And an
acquisition is something that happens more naturally, so you learn through natural
contact, you just play with the sounds that you receive, and in this way you try to
process them and acquire the new structures and vocabulary.
How does it actually help, right? How does this approach of learning a
language through telling stories help? The first one would be that it teaches you or
helps you to build the whole sequences of thoughts and ideas. You learn new
vocabulary in context and this is super important. I am smiling here, I guess you
can hear it, because this is one of the most difficult things that we as teachers
encounter so how to teach proper expressions, how to teach proper phrases in
context, right. Most students complain that the language that they get or the
vocabulary that they learn, it is passive, right. So they know a lot of words, they
remember them, they associate different expressions with different ideas but
actually when it comes to real speaking, when it comes to real communication,
they cannot produce them because simply these structures are passive ones.
The expressions that you acquire through telling stories are simply easier to
remember because you associate them with the story that you listen to, with the
events that you listen about. As I mentioned before, there is, as a result of it all,
there is less passive vocabulary, so the learner does not learn this vocabulary only
for the test, but they can actually produce it later on.
The last thing I would like to mention here, of course it is last but not least
it’s the immersion. I know that most of you, I guess, know this expression, it has
become very popular, and this is the approach of learning a language through diving
into it, so to say, because this is what it means, to immerse, you immerse into the
language, into the expressions, and you do not translate back and forth. You do
not translate from one language into another, which is a key thing because this is
what my experience tells me and this is what I observe very often that most
learners keep on translating, even when they are advanced, right, even when they
produce very nice structures, very nice expressions but they still cannot escape
from their own mother tongues, from their native languages and they just keep on
going right, translating from one language into another. And of course it is very
tiring, and it will never, or it will make it very hard to produce this natural,
standard of a foreign language and this is what all would like to get, simply.
I mentioned this before that approach is not very popular in schools, I mean
traditional schools and of course I would not say that this is bad because the
tradition is something that works well, right. People keep on learning the languages
and they are pretty successful but this telling stories approach I guess it might
help. I guess it’s something worth thinking about; and in regular schools what we
usually do is we start with the basic vocabulary, we start with talking about family
and friends and with start with Present Simple. And we start with Present Simple to
teach our students how to talk about their daily routines, right. So this is quite
opposite, so we start with daily routines, not the stories, so not the past. As I said
it is not bad, I mean the traditional approach is not bad, but let’s just think about
it – how many options we’ve got there? How many options of a daily routine is
there? Right, we all have this set of actions that we do every day or every morning
and we cannot produce more than this standard variety. They are simply a
sequence of the same actions that get repeated and at this level you cannot
develop much, right, you cannot go any further because you just keep repeating
the same expressions.
And with telling stories you can produce an infinite number of sentences, of
sequences, of events, of experiences and that is why this starting point with a story
might be very helpful because it helps to develop very much at the very beginning.
Of course, it is just a suggestion on my part, I would not like to revolutionise
the education and the teaching system but I just would like to suggest or draw
your attention perhaps to this other way and I guess it is advisable to try and see
how it works in practice.
This is all, and I hope you enjoyed your time, please don’t forget that you’ve
got this transcript under my podcast so you’ll get all the expressions written down
with the most interesting vocabulary in bold that could help you learn it a bit.
in particular – w szczególności, szczególnie
underneath – pod/ pod spodem (bez użycia dopełnienia)
in bold – pogrubionym/ tłustym drukiem
approach to – podejście/ stosunek do
(to) put forward an idea – przedstawić pomysł/ zaproponować
(be) familiar with – zaznajomiony/ zapoznany z
(to) acquire – pozyskiwać/ zdobywać/ uczyć się
(to) apply – aplikować/ stosować
acquisition – nabycie/ zakup/ nauka
(to) encounter – spotkać się z/ napotkać
(to) complain about – narzekać na
(to) associate with – utożsamiać/ kojarzyć z
immersion – zanurzenie/ zatopienie/ imersja
(to) immerse into – zatapiać/ zanurzać się w
back and forth – tam i z powrotem
(be) worth (doing sth) – warto/ wart robienia
variety – różnorodność
infinite – nieskończony
(to) draw sb’s attention – przyciągać/ zwracać uwagę
advisable – pożyteczny/ pożądany/ wskazany