Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Encouraging Young Learners to Learn English through Stories

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Encouraging Young Learners to Learn English through Stories

Article excerpt


Reading is an important part of successful language acquisition. Motivating young learners to learn English through stories at an early age provides them the opportunity to widen their horizons and stimulate their early enthusiasm and enhance their awareness of the rich use of English. Stories are unquestionably a significant part of children's literacy development. When we read to our children, we do not confine them to academic excellence but extend into their emotional and behavioral learning (Ai Lian Kim, 2008). Reading at an early age is essential. Therefore, this article focuses on how to spark student's interest towards English through stories and how stories develop their language learning.

Keywords: Young learners, Reading, Learning English, Stories

1. Introduction

Storytelling is an accepted and widely used approach in the teaching of English language classroom. It represents a holistic approach to language teaching and learning founded on the understanding that learners need to interact with rich, authentic examples of the foreign language (Mourao, 2009). "In using stories in language teaching we are using something much bigger and more important than language teaching itself" (Wright, 2003: 7).

Story in its widest sense is also the carrier of life's messages and has, I believe, a vital part to play in the education of the young child, particularly in the development of language. I suggest that the teacher, working form a story "bank" rich in all manner of literary genres and crossings a variety of cultures, can produce the kind of learning environment which not only stimulates and carries the children along on the crest of their interest and enjoyment, but offers meaning potential without which the learning of language is rigid (Garvie, 1991: 56).

2. Why Story Books?

It is widely believed that literature-based instruction can positively influence the language development of primary school students (Morrow, 1992). Weinreich & Bartlett claim that in children's literature " the child ... must be regarded as a necessary condition which the author consciously or unconsciously relates to in the creative process" (2000:127). For McDowell (1973), the term "children's literature" is applicable to books written for, and read by, that group referred to as children by any particular society. For Oberstein (1996: 17) "children's literature" is "a category of books the existence of which absolutely depends on supposed relationships with a particular reading audience: children". Hollindale (1997:30) defines "children's literature" as a body of texts with certain common features of imaginative interest, which is activated as children's literature by a reading event: that of being read by a child". According to Ghosn (2002: 172) "children's literature is fiction written for children to read for pleasure, rather than for didactic purposes". Huck et al. (1997: 5) children's literature is "the imaginative shaping of life and thought into the forms and structures of language". Galda and Cullinan (2002: 7) claim that literature "entertains and ... informs" and "it enables young people to explore and understand their world" and "enriches their lives and widens their horizons" and through literature children "learn about people and places on the other side of the world as well as ones down the street. They can travel back and forth in time to visit familiar places and people, to meet new friends, and to see new worlds. They can explore their own feelings, shape their own values, and imagine lives beyond the one they live". Tomlinson and Lynch-Brown (2002:2) define children literature as "good quality trade books written especially for children from birth to adolescence, covering topics of relevance and interest to children". Lewis (2001) states that there are good reasons for children reading picture-books:

Consider the fact that children born into the first years of the twenty-first century are likely to possess a richer and more deftunderstanding of visual imagery and its modes of deployment than any other generation in the history of humankind. …

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