written by Thomas Simon
Stories & narratives
have long been seen as an important tools in the classroom
for both the teacher & the student. For the teacher
they provide a versatile activity that can be fitted
in almost anywhere in a lesson for a multitude of different
aims & for the student, they are an important part
of both productive & receptive communicative ability.
'Stories' by Ruth Wajnryb, author of 'Grammar
Dictation' helps to enrich this area.
The stated aims of the
to teach students the conventions of different
students to work with stories to achieve language-learning
to help build
a sense of community on the classroom
with a principled introduction to stories & is then
divided into three sections that contain a total of
The first section is 'Learning
about text as narrative genre' which looks at different
aspects of the genres to help the learner build up a
picture of how they work. The activities cover sequencing,
schematic structure, choice of development, accounting
for point of view & a variety of activities that
help with the manipulation of narratives.
Activity 3, 'Complications
& resolutions', will be a popular one as Wajnryb
has broken several stories, divided into different levels,
down into the schematic parts of abstract, orientation,
complication, evaluation, resolution & coda. Students
begin by matching the story parts to the section headings,
then come up with a different story up to the end of
the complication stage, another pair writes the resolution
& the original writers get the completed story back
Activity 4, 'Choose your
own adventure', provides a maze. Students pick up a
card, read the situation & make a chice that moves
them to another card & another choice - a lovely
interactive reading activity. If you have been teaching
a while you may remember 'Business Mazes' & More
Business Mazes' that I believe are long out of print.
If there are any budding materials writers out there
looking for an idea, I'm sure there must be a market
for a few maze-based books.
The second section looks
at 'Language learning through narrative lessons'. The
activities in this section exploit narratives for work
on structure, function, vocabulary, phonology &
the four skills.
The last section 'Building
a 'storied' class' involves 'story-telling for its social
power' & might be the section with the 'newer' ideas
on using narratives in class. These ask the student
to tell personalised stories to each other which, apart
from the linguistic objectives, aim to help with the
group dynamics & the bonding in the group.
And last but not least
is the story bank with a collection of 43 more stories.
For those new to story-telling
in class 'Stories' will come as a revelation
& for those that already incorporate narratives
in class, the book will undoubtedly add to your range
of activities & provide different perspectives on
what you already do. A recommended buy.