Weekly Discussions

      Today we are going to speak about an interesting article falling under the category of Teaching Young Learners in English Teaching Professional called Systematic Storytelling by Masuko Miyahara. It provides a different view of teaching stories in class. The ideas Masuko presented can also be applied to teens and high school students even Adults. She believed that teachers can use stories to:
1.                  Develop language awareness
2.                  Learn how to learn
3.                  Create curriculum links
4.                  Carry out projects
5.                  Develop critical awareness

1.                  Developing language awareness:

She chose a very simple story called Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. She suggested that the teacher can use such a story to attract students’ attention to the usage of prepositions accompanied by sounds for example: buzz, baa, oink, splash, splish…etc. Also the usage of new vocabulary

2.                  Learning to learn:

“A range of activities involving study skills such as counting, comparing, sequencing…. Etc are outlined.” Also we can use these to help kids to move and perform the activities of the story thus adding the physical side to the work done. This is what we call TPR – Total Physical Response. Masuko also suggests using it to develop children drawing skills as well.

3.                  Creating curriculum links:

This can also be linked or used to practice Math, Science, Geography and Physical Education skills.

4.                  Carrying out projects

These can be of great benefit to develop the students’ Speaking skills and “foster a sense of cooperation in order to attain mutual goals.”

5.                  Developing critical awareness:

This can be used with much older students and help them to compare the figuring of foxes and wolves in stories as bad guys. This story can be compared to other stories like Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs as well as others. These can also be contrasted with Big Bad Wolf is Good. Also the usage of different animals in stories in different cultures can be discussed as well.

     Masuko closes the article with “I believe the novelty of my approach lies in the attempt to show how the five orientations I describe could be employed to broaden and increase the educational value of a story.”

     These interesting points mentioned, remind me of Bloom’s Taxonomy, HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills). The HOTS steps deal with the developed application, analysis, evaluation and creation skills. The Application of the steps suggested by Masuko help students function the usage of language learnt. By comparing and contrasting stories, we are helping students to think in class, reflect upon what they have studied, analyse and then speak of write about. This is a great way of applying Critical Thinking in class. When preparing to present their opinions and reflections, students can use mind maps, PPPs, short notes or summarize or even put it in a report form. This helps students develop their Writing skills greatly as well as their Speaking ones.

      Through these steps, students can develop “a sense of cooperation”, develop the usage of new vocabulary, phrasal verbs, prepositions, expressions…etc. and they can also be linked to other subjects like Science and Math for example. Thus these can be used as part of a CLIL school project as well


Hutchins, P Rosie’s Walk Scholastic Inc. 1968

Miyahara, Masuko, Systematic Storytelling, English Teaching Professional, March 2005

Puttock, S Big Bad Wolf is Good Guillan Children's Books 2001

Trivizas, E The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig Mammoth  1993

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