Every time we share a story with children, we have a fantastic opportunity to enable children to build on their language awareness, learn from each other, and enhance their linguistic repertoire. The principles for this are straightforward. For each story:

  • Identify key vocabulary relevant for understanding the story (key characters, key items, key actions)
  • Work with children as experts
  • Consider cultural markers and ask for alternative suggestions
  • Share your own wonder as you all compare and learn

You can do as much or as little of these as you want, or feel comfortable with. The example below, recorded to be played in classrooms and stopped by teachers as appropriate, focuses on key vocabulary:

Cultural markers are what helps stories make sense in a particular context. For example, in Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red Riding Hood goes through a forest, carries cake and wine, and meets a wolf – not all these are necessarily part of a child’s funds of knowledge, i.e. they might be unfamiliar. Children might enjoy ‘localising’ a particular tale, and this is also a chance to bust some myths and avoid stereotyping, enabling children to talk to each other about geography, cultural experiences, food, etc.

We would love to include some videos of multilingual storytelling happening in your classroom – please do get in touch if you can help. If you are in Sheffield, and you think you might be able to accommodate a visit where we might tell a story and film it, with children’s interaction, please do get in touch, too!

Have you used this activity?

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