Humanising Language Teaching
Chaving another person's story
Simon Marshall, Pilgrims, UK
One of the problems of the new discoveries by the Corpus linguists about the oral language is just how to teach their insights to our students. One way is to take specific features of normal conversation and get students to practise the feature- so, for example, if to tend to is a high frequency verb in UK speech, we devise an exercise to get students using it. The approach proposed here is more global. In the activity below the students try to enter into highly conscious empathy with a native speaking story-teller and then to remake the story they have heard , watched and entered into as closely and emotionally accurately as they can. They are not just repeating a text- they are semi-becoming the native teller, thus soaking up the native's use of language.
Time: 30 to 45 mins
Note: this exercise will be done best by the naturally empathetic students, the ones with high language and inter-personal skills ,br> The exercise is not worth doing as a one-off. The students get better and better at it as they practise more.
Variation: in a same-Mother Tongue class, change step 6 above so that Person B tells the story to A with the same rhythm, gestuality etc as the teller, but in Mother tongue, not English. This is a marvellously hard task, requiring great linguistic flexibility.