1. Sharing stories from the community
Community knowledge of stories is a valuable resource for listening and speaking activities outside and inside the classroom. It is important that your pupils learn to respect and love the wisdom and heritage of their home language and culture. By strengthening their speaking and listening skills in the home language in an enjoyable way, the pupils will grow in confidence too.
Because the art of storytelling is no longer so deeply valued in some communities, people may have forgotten some of the richness and detail of stories. A way of building language resources for your class is to uncover older and more authentic versions of stories. You can do this by talking to other people in the community.
Case Study 1: Using the multilingualism of your class
Mr Kimaryo teaches Standard 4 at Makanya Primary School in Tanzania. The school is near a sisal estate, where workers speak many different languages. In his class of 70 pupils, 10 speak Chaga, 6 speak Chirundi, 3 speak Chinamwanga, and the rest speak Pare. He usually speaks Swahili when he teaches them.
Mr Kimaryo wanted his pupils to collect stories from their homes and to build their confidence in speaking by telling stories in their home languages. He began his lesson by showing pupils a picture of an old man and some members of the family seated around the fireplace. He then asked the pupils in pairs to discuss what the people were doing. The pairs reported their answers to the class. He then asked the pupils if they also sat around the fireplace to listen to stories, and many said they didn’t. He told the pupils to go home and ask one of the older members of the community to tell them a story.
In the next lesson, he divided the pupils into groups. He made two groups of Chaga speakers, one group of Chirundi speakers and one of Chinamwanga. He divided the Pare speakers into ten groups. He asked each pupil to tell their story to the rest of the group members, using the home language.
Mr Kimaryo went round and listened as they told their stories. He was pleased at how well they told the stories, especially the ways they used their voices to add interest.
Activity 1: Sharing stories in the home language
Your pupils have found out what older people know about storytelling in. Now is the time for them to collect stories from them.
- Talk to your pupils about their experiences of listening to stories, and find out what kinds of stories they enjoy. Ask them whether they listen to stories at home, and who are the storytellers in their community.
- Ask them to find someone from the home community to tell them a story. They will need to remember the story because they will have to tell it to their classmates. A good way of learning the story is for them to tell it to a number of people at home. As they do this, they should check that they have all the details of the story right.
- In the next lesson, group together pupils with the same home language (see Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom). Ask them to tell each other the stories they collected, using their home languages.
How did your pupils react to this activity?
How could you build up a resource of these stories?