In AL 6760 Teaching EFL/ESL to children, there was a variety of choices of personal projects such as attending storytelling sessions, writing a book review, writing a term-paper, or attending the children’s literature HI conference. I chose the first one storytelling because I am interested in telling stories to children. I participated in five storytelling sessions in the State library which offered me many useful lessons for my future teaching when I go back home.
I have got many useful tips for a good preparation for story-telling. Careful preparation helps me tell stories smoothly. There are several ways for me to prepare for telling stories such as telling it out loud to myself, going for a walk and talk to a tree, or telling it to a friend or someone in my family. Also, in order to prepare for stories, I should learn the basic plot of the story I am telling or reading. This happens first before I add more details about the story. Additionally, preparation for materials and facilities such as books, puppets, paper-cut outs, chairs, etc is necessary for storytelling. Besides, materials and facilities, in order to begin telling stories, I also notice that whether children are comfortable and that they can see me. When children are too young, I should ask their parents to help them participate in activities after the storyteller and show the connection between pictures and words to illustrate the stories because young children cannot read yet. I also learned that in order to create interests for children, I should give them choices of what should be read and done and ask them questions to let them focus on the stories.
I have also learned useful techniques during storytelling. The first one is that I should engage the children when telling stories. Using facial expressions and gestures as well as voice is very necessary to catch the children’s attention on the page. Moreover, when telling or reading stories, I should be playful with my language. It means that the language used for telling/reading stories should be clean and clear enough for the children. I can repeat words or phrases, use rhyme and rhythm or alliteration. I also tease the children a little when I know what is going to happen next. Besides that in order to check children’s understanding, I should ask questions by asking them raise their hands if they do not understand the stories. Additionally, using puppets, stuffed animals, paper cutouts, and flannel board to illustrate stories that I tell without reading is very interesting way to raise children’s excitement on stories. Lastly, I should combine songs, body movement, and fingerplays in story telling time because the children cannot pay attention to the page long like adults. However, five times of observing storytelling sessions are not enough for me. If I had time, I would participate in more variety of storytelling sessions such as storytelling aged from 6 to 10 because I would like to learn more about different techniques for telling stories to children including more post reading tips.
In conclusion, I realize that although young children cannot read yet, what they see and hear will be helpful for their studying language in the next stage of development. This personal project has brought me valuable knowledge of how to become a confident storyteller, techniques of telling stories, and experiences of how children and their parents respond to stories.