This article has been written by storytelling specialists, Tonya and Natasha, from Little Creative Days Are you looking for new ways to engage those with…
The Importance of Stories for Children with EAL
Why are stories so important for those with EAL?
Stories are one of the things that make us human. We can all relate to a story because we are hardwired to learn that way, which is why they are one of the most versatile and powerful tools we have when we want to help children learn.
Now picture the scene… You are in a strange country that you’ve never been to before and no-one there speaks a word of English and you can’t speak their language… How do you feel? How would you communicate?
Well this is how a child feels when they have moved to this country and English is not their first language.
However, that’s where a story can help because every culture uses stories and children will be familiar with them. So it’s one of the best ways to help them learn.
Stories in a child’s home language is transferable to a second language and is therefore a great advantage to those learning EAL. Knowledge of stories enhances and facilitates their learning, especially when using dual text.
So make sure that you choose a story with a clear story-line and simple direct language. Illustrated books are great and can also help the children learn about other cultures so it’s a really inclusive way of learning.
One way of helping children learn is to take a number of words from the story and list them on the wall with a picture. Put the English name against whatever it is in the child’s first language as well. You can then refer to these words as you are telling the story. So for example, if you are telling a story about the 3 little pigs you would have a picture of the pig and the pig underneath, but you can also put what the word pig is in the child’s first language as this will give them comfort.
If you have several children in the setting or school with EAL then you might want to put them into small groups or pairs with children whose first language is English to help them learn together. This will also help the English-speaking children learn a new language and again create an inclusive learning environment.
To find out more about how to use stories for those with EAL, why not come along to our interactive Using Stories & Puppets for EAL Workshop on the 5th April 2019 to get some hands-on practical advice and fresh ideas.
Tonya and Natasha, the storytelling sisters, are authors of a series of books about a little dog called Pojo who gets itchy paws and goes off on adventures.
They have won multiple awards for their puppet making kits that accompany the stories including Teach Early Years Excellence award for Communication and Language Resource.