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Automatic English For The People

Friday, February 03, 2006

Draw, Don't Write

by
AJ

Have been using Storytelling everyday with my class and its gone reasonably well (some days better than others). But lately the storytelling has gotten stale. I think Ive figured out why.

As we tell the stories (using the day's target vocab/grammar) I have been writing them on the board. This is not "standard" TPR Storytelling... but rather my attempt to compensate for my Asian students shyness. They simply hate getting in front of the class (and forget getting them to "act out" the stories). Of course, I act them out... but have been writing them too.

The problem with writing the stories as we create them:
Students invariably view the written story as a script. When they retell the story they merely read it from the whiteboard. They will usually write the story in their notebooks too... so if I erase it they still tend to read it instead of speaking naturally.

A far better strategy is to draw the story as its created. The drawings serve as visual associations and as memory cues. They help students remember key ideas and events... instead of obsessing about the exact words. When its time for them to tell the story... they have no choice but to "use their own words". Rather than glance to a notebook to remember the new vocabulary, they must access their own memory.

I used to follow this approach and it worked very well.... but I got lazy, mainly because Im so terrible at drawing.

Still, Ive come to the conclusion that from a language learning point of view, a terrible drawing is worth a thousand written words.

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