Thursday, June 18, 2015

Storytelling in ELT: Hints and Tips to Make it Work (Workshop) by Alec Williams - Report

It was a cold and windy day - a perfect way to start a story and perfect weather for storytelling. We were sitting in a cosy room at the Alec Williams’s workshop and were completely absorbed in Alec telling us wonderful stories and how to tell stories and what to do with stories as a follow-up. 

So what does it take to be a good storyteller? A good storyteller should think of the ways not only to engage the audience but to make the audience participate. Choruses, animal noises, refrains, actions are great for children to join in. We should think of the ways to introduce a story – we could use a puppet or start a story by relating it to a personal experience. An absolutely essential tool in storytelling is our voice and what we can do with it. We could vary it in speed, pitches and volume and we could use different voices for different characters. It goes without saying that we should read through the story first so that we know who the characters are, where to use pauses for dramatic effect and where we can speak faster and If there are any unknown words that need to be explained in advance.
Photo by Margarita Kosior

In the second part of the workshop, Alec gave each of us the opportunity to become a storyteller. We were divided into groups of four or five people. Each group had to choose a story they liked most and retell it. It was very important that everyone in the group participated – we could take turns retelling a story assuming different roles or we could role-play it. There were some prompts on the whiteboard to help us but we were free to add more details to the story. We tried to use the techniques Alec was talking about – varying the voice, making pauses… It turned out telling a story can be as exciting as listening to it. Alec says stories develop a bond and affection between teller and listener – that’s so much true. By the end of the workshop we all seemed to be feeling closer and more connected. 

By Lana Lemeshko

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