SUMMER / 2011
In this issue
(in alphabetical order of author's name):
Going off the
Beaten Track. Storytelling as Alternative to Classroom Reading, by
Foreign Language Teaching and
Arts in Waldorf Schools, by Oana-Elena Andone
Some Obstacles in
EFL Learning. From Individual Learner Variables to Context and Material
Resources, by Cătălina-Ecaterina Burlacu
Earl W. Stevick's ‘Success with Foreign Languages’. A Book
Review, by Irina Erdic
Modern Approaches to Teaching
English in Highschool. Using
to Teach English, by Elena Mircea
Fun with Grammar. Making Grammar Meaningful and
by Lăcrimioara Nasui
Confidence. Discover Your Child’s Natural Motivation, by Roxana Nicola
Alternatives for Speaking Classes. Ways to Make Students Talk, by Ioana
through Digital Storytelling. Rationale, Guide, and Tips for Using
Storybird by Anişoara Pop and Susana Gómez Martinez
Develop Confidence. Ways of Working out Conflicts, by Mona Talancă
for Grammar Practice. A Brief Tutorial, by Diana Toader
ISSN 1844 –
Teaching resources are not readily available
every time, for every school and every teacher. Yet in a time when teaching
English has become so much of a shopping spree, too many of us fail to bear
in mind that the most complex and appealing resource in the English
classroom is the very person who is teaching.
To begin with, a teacher can quickly put together a warm-up activity by
asking students to guess what is in his/her pocket or bag or can simply
bring an object from home, whether it is a cuddly toy or a set of
photographs and encourage children to guess and develop the story behind.
Just as naturally, a teacher can easily introduce or illustrate whatever
language issue by conjuring up his/her teenage days, an unusual event in the
distant past or their latest vacation, the day they first met that class or,
just as well, a likely turn of events in his/her future. In this case,
students can be encouraged to practice a certain structure or a lexical set.
Students do not easily open up in class these days and are not easily
convinced to discuss whatever contemporary issue the textbook aims to force
upon them. What they need is the personal touch of a genuine conversation
with a real stake and the teacher’s world can, if tactfully brought into the
classroom, add the needed meaningful and appealing context. So don’t buy
your students expensive language practice books – you have yourself for
Colegiul Naţional "A.T. Laurian", Botoşani
Modern Approaches to
Teaching English in Highschool. Using Mini-texts to Teach English
by Elena Mircea, Colegiul National „Anastasescu”,
Roşiorii de Vede, Teleorman
Keywords: mini-texts, English, expansion, media transfer, reduction,
matching, reconstruction, project work.
Mini-texts are all in fairly simple language
but the feelings and ideas they express are often intense and profound. They
are as important for what they do not say as for what they do. The student
is therefore drawn into filling in, from his own experience, what is not
stated but only hinted at by the text.
There is a set of easily generalized exercise types which can be applied to
virtually any text. Here they are: expansion, reduction, media transfer,
matching, selection, comparison/contrast, reconstruction, reformulation,
interpretation, creating text, analysis and project work.
The Sample Text:
“He never sent me flowers. He never wrote me letters. He never took me to
restaurants. He never spoke of love. We met in parks. I don’t remember what
he said, but I remember how he said it. Most of it was silence anyway”.
a) Add as many adjectives as you can to the text.
b) Add some other sentences after “...restaurants”. They should tell of the
other things he never did.
c) Add one paragraph before and one paragraph after this text. The first
should begin “It all began ...”The last should begin “It ended one day
Shorten the text by cutting out repetition.
3. Media Transfer
a) Write out the text as a poem. Use the exact words of the text but arrange
them on the page to make the most effect. Give the poem a title.
b) Write a letter to the “agony aunt’s” column of a newspaper based on this
text. The letter is asking for advice.
a) Here are photographs of three women. Which one do you think is most
likely to have spoken the text.
a) Which title best fits the text?
Silence, Indifference, Anguish, Memories, Frustration, Never
Give the students two poems on a similar theme.
a) Look at this word array:
silence was he
never love sent
took met I
of letter anyway
Make as many sentences as you can using these words only. You can use the
words as many times as you like. Then combine your list of sentences with
your partner’s. Use some of the sentences to write a short story.
b) These sentences are jumbled up. Try to put them into an order which makes
sense for you.
c) “We met in parks. He never took me to restaurants. Most of it was silence
anyway. He never sent me flowers. He never wrote me letters. I don’t
remember what he said, but I remember how he said it. He never spoke of love.
a) Listen to the text once. Then use these keywords to rewrite it in your
flowers parks silence remember never restaurants letters love
Then compare your version with the original.
b) Rewrite the text replacing the verbs with possible alternatives.
a) Read the text and close your eyes. What colours does the text suggest to
you? Discuss them with your group.
b) What question would you ask the man described in the text? And the woman?
10. Creating Text
a) Write a minimal poem using some of the words from the text (not more than
ten different words ). Give it a title.
a) How many tenses are used in the text? Which? What does this tell you
about the events which are described ?
b) What is the subject of the first four sentences?
12. Project Work
In groups of six, design questionnaires to discover what people’s attitudes
are to courtship. (It might, for example, contain questions relating to what
the man should do to attract a partner and what the woman should do ). Then
distribute it to the rest of the group to complete. After completing them,
one member of the group should prepare a brief talk explaining the results
to the rest of the class, using the tabulated results as illustrations.
1. McEwan, H., and Egan, K., eds. Narrative In Teaching, Learning, And
Research. New York: Teachers College Press, 1995;
2. Maley, A, Short and Sweet, Penguin, 1995;
3. Neuhauser, P. C. Corporate Legends And Lore: The Power Of Storytelling As
A Management Tool. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.
4. Newmark, L. (1966) “How Not To Interfere With Language Teaching”, in
Brumfit, C. J. and K. Johnson(ends. ) The Communicative Approach to Language
Teaching, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
5. Richards, J.C. and Rodgers, T.S. (1986). Approaches and Methods in
Language Teaching: A Description and Analysis. Cambridge University Press.
Going off the Beaten Track. Storytelling as Alternative
to Classroom Reading
by Mariana Andone, Colegiul Naţional “Vasile Alecsandri” Bacău
Keywords: storytelling, storyteller, creating stories, classroom activities
I have come across this concept rather recently and at that point I did not
know that there was more to storytelling than the mere re-telling of a
randomly picked story. Actually I thought the concept was slightly overrated
and finding out that there is quite a wealth of books that tackled this
matter was in fact what stirred my curiosity and interest in it. Moreover, I
wanted to gain a deeper insight into the art of storytelling for personal
purposes, i.e. becoming a better “performer” for my elder son. This is what
prompted me to start my research on this subject and now I have decided to
share my findings with those who are in the same error as I was at the
First of all, what is storytelling? It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when
it began but one can only assume that it is as old as man’s first attempts
at communication. We can go as far back as cave paintings, for they should
not be mistakenly thought of as simple doodles or pictures etched in stone,
but as real stories of life. They developed alongside of vocabulary itself,
thus becoming more complex, abstract and nuanced. Today we use stories on a
daily basis. We can hear snippets of conversation and dialogue passing from
one person to another and realise that in fact the most popular form of
communication is the recounting of stories. We use them to share
information, to connect to our interlocutors, to reveal who we are. Whatever
the purpose, they are an active part of our lives.
Considering these aspects, we can but ask another question - why do language
teachers tell stories? Stories are meant to educate, to offer wisdom and
knowledge to those less experienced, so we should not underestimate their
power. We are storytellers every day whether we realise it or not and it is
a skill that can be developed and used in education with exceptional
results. Storytelling is the best tonic for the imagination, and as such
children find it exciting and fun. They have permission to go wherever they
want, to explore language and learn about life in a safe environment. They
immediately connect with the storyteller; there is no book or paper to act
as a barrier. The only pictures they have are in their heads. The words
become their own.
The difference between storytelling and reading might be a clear one, but
why is it so important in the classroom? Here are some reasons why
storytelling is essential for educational development and can be used to
complement the curriculum:
• Storytelling aids in the development of children’s ability to interpret
and understand events beyond their immediate experience. Children’s
perception changes as they ‘make it real’ and identify with the story on a
• Storytelling is a medium of shared experiences. This helps children to
empathise with the characters, to feel elated at another’s joy, sad for
their misfortunes. It is a tool for social and interpersonal development.
• Storytelling aids language development. Children need to be exposed to
language to fully understand its implications. This will also have a
beneficial effect on reading skills and being able to associate meanings and
emotions with words.
• Storytelling helps with listening and speaking skills. Children will learn
the importance of listening, of how to communicate ideas and interact with
others. They will develop their vocabulary and learn when and where to use
words and phrases.
• Storytelling stretches the imagination. It encourages children to escape
into a fantasy world, and supports their daydreams, which has positive
benefits on mental health and clarity leaving them better able to cope with
day-to-day situations (fairy tales are ideally suited for this purpose).
• Storytelling entertains and excites, which is an important part of
learning. If children are having fun they are involved, and motivated to
learn more. You can almost see them anticipating what comes next and
discovering the real meaning of the tale.
• Storytelling helps children appreciate different cultures, in addition to
helping them examine and value their own personal heritage.
• Storytelling is the natural way to introduce children to the wonderful
world of books and reading. The next stage is for the class to create their
own stories and learn how to communicate their ideas individually and in
How do we get started?
Deciding on the tale to tell
We have seen the benefits of using storytelling in the classroom; we know
what it is about and how it can be used. Now comes the exciting part –
finding and creating a tale to tell! It sounds a challenge, but there are
ways and means to make the process easy and enjoyable. Our first decision
refers to whether it is better to choose tried and tested tales from the
wealth of material available for our audience, or whether to create
something specifically for the task in hand. Both options have their
Choosing a tale. As fledging storytellers we might prefer the option of
finding a tale. The benefit here is that we know the story works, it is
already formed and it is in print. What can be safer than a tale that has
already been created and enjoyed? The story does not lose anything by not
being original because every storyteller has his or her own style. There are
some tips which offer us a better grasp of what needs to be done in order to
achieve the desired effect in students. First of all, pick a tale that you
enjoy. It will be difficult to create atmosphere if you do not really
believe in the the story. Secondly, make sure you know your audience well –
what they like/dislike, their attention span, their interests or previous
experience with stories. Then, you should feel free to take an old tale and
change it to suit your needs, or your audience’s. Children enjoy the
tradition and romance of fairy tales; they enjoy hearing about kings and
queens, dragons and witches. To make the story fun you could think of modern
alternatives to fairy tale characters. Furthermore, pick stories that make
sense and have a satisfying ending. There is nothing worse than a group of
blank faces at the end of a tale. Last but not least, find a story that
suits your style. Every storyteller has a different voice. You may discover
that you prefer to tell your tales in the first person. Perhaps you feel
more comfortable with modern tales rather than fairy tales. You may find
humour difficult, but have a natural aptitude for spooky atmospheric tales.
Creating a tale. This is not as difficult as it sounds, and can be very
rewarding. There are many benefits in creating your own tale to tell. For a
start, that tale is original, it may have elements of other stories, but it
is your tale, and as such has never been heard or read before. You are the
master of the tale and that provides an extra boost of confidence and
control. You will feel happier chopping and changing bits, and you will find
that you can be flexible with the plot and characters. So where do we start?
Do we wait for inspiration to strike? Here are some easy ways to stimulate
your imagination and get the words flowing, as presented by Alison Davies.
Memories. Think of important events in your life, significant things that
happened in your childhood. Think about positive experiences. Rather than
trying to list them in your head or on paper, draw them. Take a sheet of
paper and draw a picture, a still that sums up what that memory means to
Pictures. Pictures are a great source of inspiration. Storytellers work in
pictures, so putting a story together based on pictures or paintings or
photographs is a good way of thinking visually.
Other stories. It is perfectly acceptable to incorporate other stories into
the tale you tell. You may be looking for a tried and tested formula: for
example, the standard format of good versus evil that is used so well in
fairy tales can be adapted. You can borrow characters and tell the story
from their perspective. What happened to Sleeping Beauty whilst she was
asleep? Where did she go? What did she dream? What were her adventures?
Perhaps she learnt something during that time. You may begin to tell her
tale and then ask your class to come up with their version of events.
Other perspectives. Take a story you know well and see it from another
angle. Take an inanimate object and imagine what it sees and feels. What
role does it have to play in the story? Give it a personality. Remember that
it will be present for only part of the original tale, so it will have a
totally different perspective of events. It will have its own story.
Take a smaller character from a popular tale and tell his or her story. Who
is Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother? Where did she come from? How did she feel?
How did the sequence of events look to her? Again these are all questions
you can put to your class to get them thinking creatively.
The delivery stage
As pre-delivery preparation, A. Davies suggests that, although it is
obviously not advisable to learn our stories by heart, there is nothing
wrong with developing some key phrases. Knowing the first and last line of
our piece is however useful. A good strong beginning is necessary to launch
into the tale, so a definite sentence which sets the scene and puts us and
our audience in the right frame of mind for the tale is a must. Also, the
author stresses upon the paramount importance of practising our tale.
“Familiarise yourself not only with the words you want to use, but how they
sound. Things sound different when they are vocalised. Run through the story
and if there are any problem areas work on them. Make sure you have your key
phrases and bridges in place in case you lose your way.” (Davies, p.26)
During the actual delivery, it is essential that we take into account
several factors, such as voice, expression, movement and posture. Imagine
that all music was the same. How dull it would be to listen to the same
piece, with no changes in rythm or tone. The same happens with stories.
Voice, movement, posture and expression are the tools of a storyteller’s
trade. Like magic they can turn an ordinary story into something truly
amazing. The way in which the story is presented is the icing on top of a
cake. It is the bit that everyone sees and is attracted to. Presentation
techniques, if done correctly, will not only give a story credence, but also
give one’s performance confidence. The more these skills are employed in the
classroom, the more effective they will become, and if we get our class to
join in then we should also see positive results in the areas of speaking
Teaching storytelling – classroom activities
Storyboards are an excellent way to introduce children to the world of
storytelling because they are a visual aid to telling a story and great fun
to produce. Storyboards are similar in pattern and effect to story ladders,
the main difference being that a storyboard is made up of pictures and
words. A story ladder uses chunks of sentences or phrases to move you on to
the next stage of the story. Children find it easier to associate with
images in the first instance, although older children might enjoy the
challenge of creating a story ladder. Storyboards can be used as a lead-in
to storytelling performance work. It gives the class the opportunity to get
into groups and really get to grips with the tale. Storyboards can be used
as starter or main activities, with outcomes that focus on sharing ideas,
communicating in groups and creating coherent plots.
When producing storyboards ask the class to think of a picture that captures
the essence of whichever stage of the story they are focusing on. Then
suggest that they write a few key words beneath the picture to help them
when it comes to telling their tale. They can also write a sentence for each
picture; however try to steer them away from writing the full narrative as
this is an exercise in storytelling and the oral tradition, not
reading/writing. If you can get children thinking creatively, experimenting
with language and then developing tales in their heads they will have more
confidence when it comes to the written word.
Word games. There are very many word games you can incorporate into your
storytelling activities, depending on the age and level of your class. Word
games are a great ice-breaker and can be used as starter exercises to get
the class thinking about language and accustomed to speaking.
The One-Word Game. Tell the class that the aim of this game is to tell a
story, but each person is only allowed to say one word and that word must
move the story forward. So you might start with ‘once’ and the next child
might say ‘upon’ and the next one ‘a’ and on and on it goes until you piece
together a story. It is an exercise that should be done at high speed to
keep the momentum and the fun going! Some younger children might find it
easier to say one sentence rather than one word but the idea is the same –
it is very much about stimulating the imagination.
Tripling. This is an exercise for older children, those who have a clear
grasp of language and are competent at piecing together stories. The object
of the exercise is again to tell a story, but this time the focus is on the
language and the meaning of the words chosen. Tripling is something that
storytellers use for effect. Each word used in tripling adds something to
the picture. It increases the power of the image, to provide maximum impact.
For example say, ‘The crows they gathered on the Castle Gatehouse, watching,
waiting, counting the silences’. Here tripling is used to add to the
atmosphere and the intention of words. With this exercise you get your class
to sit in a circle and you start to tell a story. After a minute or two you
add in a sentence that uses tripling. So you might say, ‘the dog ran, leapt,
bounded across the field’. Then you move on to the next person. They will
continue the tale and include at some point a tripling sentence. The most
important thing with this exercise is not to second-guess what is coming up.
You cannot know where the story will go, and that is part of the fun and the
challenge. You have to think about the story and the language as you are
Cliffhanger. Again this is a good exercise for older children who are
confident with stories. Write a selection of different lines on prompt
cards, lines that leave the story hanging in mid air. So you might have,
‘Jenny felt something grab at her shoulder. When she turned around all she
could see was …’ Each child will take it in turns to pick a card and develop
the story from this point. They have three minutes to tell this story to the
rest of the class. Some children might struggle with this exercise but you
can help them by asking questions and getting the rest of the class to join
in with suggestions.
In the style of … This is another exercise for older, more advanced
children. You pick a selection of well-known fairy tales and write them on
different cards, you then write down a selection of character types, for
example you might include in this list Witch, King, Ogre, Clown, Fairy,
Giant, Pirate etc. Then a class member will pick one card from each group.
So they might pick ‘The Three Little Pigs’ as their story and a Witch as
their character. They now have to tell the story of the Three Little Pigs in
the style of a witch. So they have to use their voice, facial expression,
movement to depict their character whilst telling the tale. You can do
famous people, characters from TV etc.
Instead of conclusions
Although the title of the article might suggest an innocent rivalry between
extensive reading and storytelling, there is actually no such thing. On the
contrary, the two activities are closely interrelated and mutually
dependent. However, my intention was (and hopefully I have managed to
rightfully prove it) to sustain the idea that storytelling is an
undeservedly unexplored area of EFL, which is more often than not
discarded in favour of actual reading. It develops Listening, Speaking,
Vocabulary and boosts a child’s imagination, motivation and literary
competence, not to mention self-confidence and independence. I also hope I
have managed to eliminate any possible misconceptions related to the term
“storytelling”, which was my main goal from the very beginning. Having said
all this, I believe it is only fair to give storytelling a chance and
include it in our priorities during the English classes. Even if less
visibly in the beginning, our efforts will pay off in the long run.
Good luck to everyone!
Davies, Alison (2007), Storytelling in the Classroom (London: Paul Chapman
Fox Eades, J. (2006), Classroom Tales. Using Storytelling to Build
Emotional, Social and Academic Skills across the Primary Curriculum (London:
Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Zaro, J. and Salaberri, S. (1995), Storytelling (Oxford: Macmillan Heinemann
ELT) pp. 3-5
Foreign Language Teaching and Arts in Waldorf Schools
Waldorf Highschool of Iaşi
Waldorf, imagination, play, developmental stage, the
four temperaments, cognitive development, philological psychology
Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the
twentieth century as an attempt to establish a school system that would not
only facilitate the inclusive, broadly based, balanced development of
children, but would also act in a socially responsible and transformative
Waldorf educationalists emphasize the role of the imagination in both
teaching and learning. Studies of Waldorf education describe it as aiming to
develop and succeeding at developing thinking that includes a creative as
well as an analytic aspect and to provide young people the basis with which
to develop into free, moral and integrated individuals. Waldorf education
seeks to integrate practical, artistic, and intellectual elements into the
teaching of all subjects. Learning is interdisciplinary and coordinated with
natural rhythms of everyday life. Teachers are given creative freedom to
define curricula. The education’s explicit task is to aid every child to
unfold his or her unique destiny.
The structure of the education follows Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogical model of
child development, which views childhood as divided overall into seven-year
developmental stages, each having its own learning requirements. The stages
are similar to those described by Piaget (Piaget, 1928). According to
Waldorf pedagogy early childhood learning is largely experiential,
imitative and sensory-based. The education emphasizes learning through
practical activities. During the elementary school years, age 7-14, learning
is regarded as artistic and imaginative. In these years, the approach
emphasizes developing children’s affective life and artistic expression.
During teenage years, to meet the developing capacity for abstract thought
and conceptual judgment the emphasis is on learning through intellectual
understanding and ethical thinking, including taking social responsibility.
Waldorf schools approach learning in early childhood through imitation and
example. In Waldorf schools oral language development is addressed through
songs, poems and movement games. These include daily story time when a
teacher usually tells a fairytale, often by heart. Extensive time is given
for guided free play in a classroom environment that is homelike and
includes natural materials. Such an environment is considered by Waldorf
pedagogues as supportive of the physical, emotional and intellectual growth
of the child through assimilative learning. Waldorf early childhood
education emphasizes the importance of children experiencing the rhythms of
the year and seasons, including seasonal festivals drawn from a variety of
Play is the work of pre-school children, and imitation is their natural way
of learning. During this stage of a child’s development, it is very
important that what the child sees and hears is worthy of imitation. The
teacher’s loving, joyful attitude to the children and the events of each day
are of central importance. The teacher creates an environment where natural
beauty, warmth, and security abound in a home-like setting. Activities such
as storytelling, singing, puppetry, costume play, and circle games are
combined with baking, cleaning, outdoor play, seasonal festivals and field
trips. Only natural materials, foods, and mainly handmade toys are used to
encourage the child’s imagination, sense of wonder, and reverence for life.
Songs and rhymes cultivate a lively sense for language. Listening to
stories, watching puppet shows, and dramatic play enriches language and
strengthens the power of memory and imagination. Counting games and rhythmic
activities build a solid foundation for arithmetic and number skills. Work
and play activities develop coordination, concentration, and a healthy
social sensitivity. Participation in the activities and moods of the
seasonal festival year provide a joyful experience of anticipation for the
healthy inner and outer cycle of life.
Elementary education begins when the child is nearing or already seven years
of age. The elementary school centers around a multi-disciplinary arts-based
curriculum that includes visual arts, drama, artistic movement, and both
vocal and instrumental music and lessons in two foreign languages, often
English and either French or German. Throughout the elementary years, new
material is introduced through stories and images, and academic instruction
is integrated with the visual and plastic arts, music and movement. There is
little reliance on standardized textbooks. Instead, each child creates his
or her own illustrated summaries of coursework in book form. The school day
generally starts with a one-and-a-half to two hour lesson that focuses on a
single main subject over the course of about a month’s time and generally
includes recitations of poetry, including a verse written by Steiner for the
start of a school day.
Waldorf educators seek to enliven each academic presentation in the school
environment through story, recitation, painting, drawing, drama, music, and
rhythmic movement so that it speaks to the imaginative life of the child.
Teachers strive to bring the subject alive first within themselves, and
then, through their presentation, awaken the enthusiasm and interest of the
students. The record of each child’s experience through the days and weeks
is gathered in books which they write and illustrate. Later, in adolescence,
these lively experiences, and the enthusiasm for learning that is thereby
quickened, become a sound basis for the unfolding of individual intellect
and judgement. Elementary age children are not graded. Instead, each child’s
progress is shared and discussed with parents through written reports and
parent-teacher conferences. In the seventh and eighth grades, standard
achievement tests are taken as a preparation for the transition to high
Waldorf teachers use the concept of the four temperaments to help interpret,
understand and relate to the behaviour and personalities of children under
their tutelage. The temperaments, choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and
sanguine are thought to express four basic personality types, each
possessing its own fundamental way of regarding and interacting with the
Waldorf elementary education allows for individual variations in the pace of
learning, based upon the expectation that a child will grasp a concept or
achieve a skill when he or she is ready. Cooperation takes priority over
competition. This approach also extends to physical education as competitive
team sports are introduced only in upper grades.
In most Waldorf schools, pupils enter secondary education when they are
about fourteen years old. Though the education now focuses much more
strongly on academic subjects, students normally continue to take courses in
art, music, and crafts. The curriculum is meant to focus on helping the
student develop a sense of competence as well as responsibility and purpose.
Developing understanding of ethical principles and creating social
responsibility is stressed now as well. At the secondary level, pupils are
encouraged to develop their own independent and creative thinking processes.
In teaching foreign languages, emphasis on the creative also guides the
aspect of a lesson, therefore although they start with two languages in the
first grade, the students only learn to read and write in that language in
the third. The first two years are dedicated to exposure to the beauty of
language, which is achieved by means of poetry, rhymes, songs, story
telling, drama and rhythmical speech exercises. Whereas students at more
competitive schools are mastering texts in the foreign language in third
grade (that is their first year of study), most Waldorf students do not read
and write accurately in the foreign language until the end of fourth grade
or the beginning of fifth grade. Before teaching sound and word recognition,
Waldorf teachers concentrate on exercises to build up a child’s love of
language. The teacher tells stories and uses gesture or drawing to make the
meaning of the story clear to the children, and gets the students to recite
poetry that they learn by listening, not by reading. They become incredible
listeners as the langauge of instruction is the foreign language and no
translation takes place and no mother tongue is used at any time. Therefore,
the foundation of literacy is talk and play.
The purpose of foreign language learning in the Waldorf school is not to
gain some rigid notions about grammar, pronunciation or syntax, but to
foster an individual experience of the reality of language. As with other
school subjects, besides the cognitive aspect there is an educational value
that is related to the formation of the individual’s attitude to life.
Rhythmical speech and drama, with special attention given to sounds and
intonation teach students not only the language, but also to listen quietly,
to wait, to guess meaning and the attitude behind it, to be open to
surprises in a language. According to Johannes Kiersch (1992: 24) “the study
of language educates the capacity for human compassion, thus it becomes
social pedagogy or the pedagogy of peace”. Language as art enriches the
students’ emotional life and encourages empathy as the speaker begins to
adopt the conlocutor’s point of view.
In mainstream education the arts still remain marginal and are often the
first subjects to be eliminated in times of financial exigency.
Nevertheless, during the last decade influential mainstream educational
groups and individuals have begun to reassess the importance of the arts in
education. Recently, some influential forces are becoming interested in the
arts in education with a beginning awareness of the leadership Waldorf has
taken in education as an art. Two major focus points for research in this
area are the arts and cognition and the arts as therapy. In what concerns
the former, it now becomes important to identify and bring out in detail the
importance of the arts and an artistic approach in the teaching of specific
subject areas such as foreign langauges, maths, the physical sciences,
history and so forth, as well as in promoting the healthy development of the
The first free Waldorf school opened its doors in Stuttgart, Germany, in
September 1919, under the auspices of Emil Molt, director of the Waldorf
Astoria Cigarette Company and particularly of Steiner’s call for social
renewal. It was the previous year, in the social chaos following the end of
World War I, that Emil Molt decided to create a school for his workers’
children. Since that time, more than nine hundred schools have opened around
the globe, in Europe, North and South America and Asia, making the Waldorf
school movement the largest independent school movement in the world.
Although each Waldorf school is independent, and although there is a healthy
oral tradition going back to the first Waldorf teachers and to Steiner
himself, as well as a growing body of secondary literature, the true
foundations of the Waldorf method and spirit remain the many lectures that
Rudolf Steiner gave on the subject. For five years between 1919 and 1924
Rudolf Steiner dedicated himself to the dissemination of the idea of Waldorf
education. He gave manifold lectures to teachers, parents, the general
public, and even the children themselves.
Waldorf pedagogy is based on Steiner’s belief that truly human change would
not be possible unless a sufficient number of people received an education
that developed the whole human being: ”Vague and the general phrases such as
the harmonious development of all the powers and talents in the child and so
forth cannot provide a basis for a genuine art of education. Such an art of
education can only be built on a real knowledge of the human being. Not that
these phrases are incorrect, but that at the bottom they are useless as it
would be to say of a machine that all its parts must be brought harmoniously
into action. To work a machine you must approach it, not with phrases and
truisms, but with real and detailed knowledge. So for the art of education
it is the knowledge of the members of man’s being and of their development
which is important. There is of course no doubt that the truly realistic art
of education, such as is here indicated, will only slowly make its way. This
lies, indeed, in the whole mentality of our age, which will long continue to
regard the facts of the spiritual world as the vapourings of an imagination
run wild, while it takes vague and altogether unreal phrases for the result
of a realistic way of thinking” (Steiner, 1965: 34)
2 Piaget is best known for reorganizing cognitive development theory into a
series of stages: four levels of development corresponding roughly to
infancy, preschool, childhood, and adolescence. Each stage is characterized
by a general cognitive structure that affects all of the child’s thinking.
Each stage represents the child’s understanding of reality during that
period, and each but the last is an inadequate approximation of reality.
Development from one stage to the next is thus caused by the accumulation of
errors in the child’s understanding of the environment. This accumulation
eventually causes such a degree of cognitive disequilibrium that thought
structures require reorganizing.
The four development stages are described in Piaget’s theory as: the
sensorimotor stage from birth to age 2 (when children experience the world
through movement and senses, therefore they use the five senses to explore
the world and when they are extremely egocentric, meaning they cannot
perceive the world from others viewpoints), the preoperational stage from
ages 2 to 7 (when magical thinking predominates and motor skills are
acquired and when egocentricism begins strongly and then weakens), the
concrete operational stage from ages 7 to 11 ( when children begin to think
logically but are very concrete in their thinking and when they are no
longer egocentric) and the formal operational stage, after age 11 (when
abstract reasoning develops, and when children can easily conserve and think
3 Kiersch coined the phrase philological psychology to refer to the individual
experience of the reality of language. He states that in Waldorf schools the
purpose of language study is not only to transmit notions of language and of
cultural elements of the people speaking that language, but mainly to
experience language at the level of sensory reality. He sees language as an
organ of perception that educates the students’ capacity for empathy. As any
organ of perception, language opens a door to the culture, history and the
spiritual reality of the people who speak the language and thus give insight
into human nature.
1. Kiersch, J. Limbile străine in şcoala Waldorf. Cluj: Triade, 1992
2. Piaget, J. The Child's Conception of the World. Amsterdam: Routledge,
3. Pinker, S. The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow, 1994
4. Steiner, R. The Education of the Child in light of Anthroposophy. London:
Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965
Some Obstacles in EFL Learning. From
Individual Learner Variables to Context and Material Resources
by Cătălina-Ecaterina Burlacu, "Ionel Teodoreanu" School, Iaşi
Key words: learner variables, native language, social and educational
background, teaching materials, learning opportunities, teacher questioning,
input and teacher talk, context and material resources.
All the individual learner variables have implications for the differential
success among language learners. Thus, in addition to age, cognition,
language aptitude, personality, affective variables, and hemisphere
specialization, other external factors, such as the native language,
educational and social background, linguistic input, and learning
opportunities all have a bearing on language learning.
The learners` native language might impede learning, as well as the other
languages they master. Definitely some languages are more difficult to learn
because of their grammar system, distinct pronunciation features, word
order, agglutinative (German) or analytic character (English). However, the
difficulty of learning a language does not reside only in the language
itself, but in our native language too. If the learner’s native language is
a Romance one, definitely all the other Romance languages (such as Spanish,
French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian) will seem easier for him since they
have in common some of the characteristics of his native language, such as
similar vocabulary, borrowings, grammar structures, rules, the writing
system and word order. In addition, the other languages we already know and
speak influence the difficulty of learning a language. If the learner speaks
French, which is a Romance language, obviously he/she will find easier all
the other related languages (Spanish, Italian). Moreover, there is another
aspect that makes some languages more difficult, namely the cultural
differences embedded in the language itself. For example, in English, the
pronoun “you” is used both for friends and for strangers, while French
speakers use a different word for expressing politeness, namely “vous”.
The social and educational background are two other essential factors for
language learning, including the following instructional variables: teaching
materials, teachers` roles, attitudes and agenda, methods used in language
teaching, linguistic input, and national curriculum specifications.
Teachers have at their disposal different methods that can be classified as
language-centred, learner-centred or learning-centred. The orientation that
a teacher adopts in EFL classes may have significant importance for progress
in language learning. In a classroom in which language-centred methods are
implemented, learning will be limited to the internalization of linguistic
forms (grammatical structures) and vocabulary items, without actually
preparing the learners for real-life communication or without considering
their affective needs. I personally find this approach as a barrier to
learning, since it does not lead to the full development of learners, nor
does it motivate them in a way. The main flaw of it is that it does not
promote meaningful interaction, decision taking from the learner’s part,
autonomy, strategy use, or problem-solving tasks, all being essential for
language and personal development.
The teaching materials used in the classroom, especially textbooks,
represent another important element that might constitute an obstacle to
language learning. Nowadays, teachers benefit from a great diversity of
textbooks whose production has turned into a commercial culture designed for
mass consumption. Even in our country textbook industry seems to be very
productive, the publishing houses displaying hundreds of textbooks tailored,
they say, to learners` proficiency level, language needs, age, and exams
preparation. The question is “do textbooks really address the specific needs
of learners?”. Can teachers select a textbook that is appropriate for each
learner? Are the textbooks designed according to the multiple intelligences
theory, giving to all the learners the possibility of expressing themselves
function of their strengths? If textbooks are not treated as source-books,
but as course-books whose content is mandatory, then for some learners they
would definitely function as barriers. On several occasions, I asked my
learners to express their opinions about their textbooks. Most of them said
that the English classes would have been even more appealing if they had had
another textbook, with more interesting texts and characters, activities and
visual aids. If this is the case, other resources and authentic materials
aiming at language development, interaction in the classroom, and motivation
increase, must supplement the textbook.
Lack of learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom,
represent another barrier to language learning. Inside the classroom,
learning opportunities depend much on two aspects of classroom management,
namely meaningful learner involvement and teacher questioning. The first
factor, learners` involvement, will help them find their own direction in
learning, whereas, for teachers, it gives them clues about what an optimal
environment for learning should include. If learners` involvement is not
enhanced, then learning will definitely be hindered or minimized. Taking
advantage of learning opportunities in the classroom means actually
listening to the learners speaking and building on what they say, since
their language production represents their investment in the target
language. By appropriately exploiting learning opportunities created by
learners, they understand that they count and that they are partners in the
The other component influencing learning opportunities in the classroom is
teacher questioning. Teachers can increase meaningful interaction, and thus
learning, by asking the right type of questions. If the most used types of
questions are choice (involving a “yes or no” answer), product (asking a
factual response) or display (to which the teacher already knows the answer)
questions, then learners will not benefit from too many learning
opportunities. On the contrary, if teachers address referential (inviting to
open-ended answers and new information), process and metaprocess questions,
asking learners to express their opinions, to interpret facts or to explain
the procedure by which they arrived at a certain answer, then learners`
complex reasoning skills are involved, meaningful learning and interaction
are facilitated, and learning opportunities are increased.
Besides classroom learning opportunities, those generated outside the formal
setting are equally important. Few learning opportunities outside the
classroom definitely represent an obstacle to attaining proficiency and
native-like mastery of a foreign language. The classroom environment cannot
expose learners to all aspects of real-life communication, and that is why
practice and involvement in various communicative settings is crucial for
language development and improvement. Thus, what learners can do is to
extend their exposure to English by interacting with competent speakers of
the target language, getting involved in virtual communities via Internet,
or by establishing correspondence with native speakers.
Input and teacher talk are also important for the learner’s progress in
learning a language. If provided with limited input and if the use of
teacher talk is extended beyond the initial stages, then language learning
will be negatively affected and minimized. By teacher talk it is understood
that simplified language that teachers use in order to communicate with
their L2 learners. It is said to be characterized by a slow rate of
delivery, clear articulation, paraphrasing, pauses, exaggerated stress and
pronunciation, use of synonyms, short phrases and sentences, and fewer
embeddings. If accepted at initial stages, in the long run, poor quantity
and quality of input lead to poor quality and quantity of language learning.
If learners have minimal contact with standard language, if they are rarely
exposed to standard conversational speech or authentic input in class
because of the teacher poor command of English, then another barrier to
language learning might appear. The larger the quantity of effective
accurate input, the more language learning and output production is likely
to take place. Consequently, teachers must adapt their talk according to the
learners` level of proficiency, from simpler to more complex, from a slower
to a faster rate of delivery, without giving up the natural rhythm and
The context and material resources represent another very important factor
in foreign language learning. Language acquisition is not limited to the
classroom, but it can place either at home or in any other place where
contact with the target language and culture can be established. Technology
plays an essential role in facilitating this interaction, becoming part of a
technology-enhanced learning environment, but, unfortunately, not every
school or learner can benefit from it. There are still many schools and
homes that cannot take advantage of everything a computer or the Internet
can offer us. If for some of the learners and language teachers the language
laboratory and on-line learning do not represent a wonder anymore, for many
others they are still a dream. Moreover, in many schools basic materials
such as charts, maps, books, CD-players or textbook ancillaries are still
Earl W. Stevick's
‘Success with Foreign Languages’. A Book Review
Col. Tehnic “Ioan C. Ştefănescu”, Iaşi
Keywords: successful language learning, learner-centered teaching, language
Stevick’s Success with Foreign Languages is a must-read meaningful book that
offers teachers much food for thought if they are interested in knowing how
to build activities around the learner. This is quite a difficult task,
without question, considering the average number of students in a typical
classroom and the diversity of their learning styles, but it is what
students need in order to break down the barriers they face and increase
their retention and comfort level with language.
The book introduces us to a main group of seven learners and to a sub-group
of other seven that is meant to consolidate each ‘type’ or ‘model’. And
Stevick helps us remember them easily: the intuitive learners in chapter 1
are Ann and Aileen, so their names begin with the first letter of the
alphabet; in chapter 2 we meet with Bert and Bob (the formal learners), in
chapter 3 with Carla and Chuck (the informal learners), in the fourth with
Derek and Dexter (the imaginative learners), in chapter 5 – Ed and Eugene
(the active learners), in chapter 6 - Frieda and Fred (the deliberate
learners), in chapter 7 - Gwen and Greta (the self-aware learners). The last
chapter is Stevick’s summary of what we can learn from the experiences of
these learners. Ann, Bert, Carla, Derek, Ed, Frieda and Gwen are part of the
first group that I have mentioned, and they are being interviewed about
their successful ways of learning foreign languages.
A great aspect of the book is that at the end of each interview, the author
makes a few personal comments which are very useful, that is, if you enjoy
tuning in to an ‘outsider’s’ feedback. In addition, after each piece of
interview, Stevick leaves a little room for the readers to see if they
relate to the things that have been said – he asks some effective questions
that invite us to compare our experiences with those of the learners.
I would say that the main idea of the book is that there is no single way to
learn, as there is no single way to teach. In an ideal world, teachers could
please everybody but we all know it is rather impossible. The complexity of
humankind will never allow such homogeneity and I think it is best this way.
Just like the European Union, we (the teachers) want a sort of “unity in
diversity”. Therefore we are constantly searching ways to please all of our
students, but not in the sense of inhibiting their personality (here I
include all layers of personality structure – genetic potential, habitual
social actions, etc.). And in order to do that, people like Stevick help us
understand this diversity, make us get in touch with the learner in us,
think of our own teachers and past-experiences in school, so that later on,
after doing some research on our own, we could design better activities, and
why not, make a common effort in the creation of better textbooks for the
Ann is truly an intuitive learner. She has a creative nature of
understanding – she gets the right meanings from the sounds of other people,
so she is dependent on her ear and loves hearing words in a context. She
guesses a lot, she takes risks and when she learns something, she does not
fit that information into a system. Ann has her own mental imagery that
helps her remember something new. I personally like Ann a lot because she is
very active in her approach, and daring, although I do not think I can
identify myself with her. What I understood about me after reading her
interview is that I also use my own tools for learning, and that I remember
words/phrases better when I hear them in a larger context. If I had such
learners in my classroom, I would probably design activities that involve
many authentic materials, such as newspapers, magazines, brochures,
postcards, etc. or recreate real-like situations in the classroom which
require speaking and listening skills more.
Bert, on the other hand, is more formal and conscious in his learning. He
does not mind mechanical activities or memorizing words out of context,
because he has built for himself some patterns in his brain where he stores
all the information just waiting to be attached to experience. He too is in
favor of authentic materials, which in my opinion are more than useful when
learning a foreign language. From Bert I understood about myself that
conscious learning is predominant, and that sometimes I really enjoy
mechanical activities. I do not know why exactly, but I guess this is
because they make me feel more confident in my knowledge of English and my
abilities as a teacher.
Carla is the informal learner in Stevick’s book and whoever reads her
interview can realize that really quickly. She loves learning among native
speakers, that is why she has trouble with the relationship between letters
and sounds, and with grammar. Carla takes risks, just like Ann, because she
loves putting into practice the new information she has acquired. In a few
words, I would say about Carla that she acquires unconsciously more than she
learns, and that social elements have the power to help or hinder her
learning. In this respect, I could say I am a bit like her – when learning a
foreign language, it means a great deal to me if I have non-judgmental
people around. So, in a classroom, learners like Carla need a positive
environment, a sort of non-inhibiting ‘social arena’ that throws away as much
as possible the rigidity of a traditional teacher-centered lesson where
individualised work is encouraged. In other words, classroom management is
Derek is the imaginative learner - he is creative in attaching meanings to
forms, he focuses more on what he knows than on what he does not know, he
works with charts which he makes up and he is very responsible for his own
progress. So he is also a conscious learner who puts value on mechanical
activities, two characteristics with which I can identify myself. In a
classroom with Berts and Dereks, a teacher should use activities that
consolidate the information through a lot of practice, but also include
interactive tasks so that all the information finds its place in a larger
Ed is an active learner who loves structures, mechanical activities and
rules. But for him it is not important to know the rules by heart. He just
wants to understand when changes are made and why. For that reason, he is
conscious in his learning, very attentive and even though he loves drills,
he is also a bit creative. He is preoccupied with the relationship between
grammar and everything else. He reads aloud, uses tapes in order to improve
his pronunciation, and when he talks with native speakers, he does not worry
about understanding everything. He is relaxed and in my opinion, this is a
very important aspect when learning a foreign language. I identify with Ed
on several points. For instance, I learn better when I know the rules first.
They make me feel safe. I must understand the structure of things before
practising them. I also build networks in my head and it is more difficult
for me to learn things which are esthetically unpleasant. Unlike Ed, who
learns the vocabulary passively, I cannot just stockpile words in my mind. I
need a context for every new word, because I am a visual learner and I must
‘see’ the sentence in which the word is found in order to remember its
meaning. That is why I very often find myself writing down every new piece
of information [this is one of Eugene’s methods of learning].
The learners in chapter 6 are Frieda and Fred. Their most noticeable
characteristic is the deliberateness with which they undertake everything.
They are conscious in their learning and they are very personally involved
in their mental work.
Frieda stockpiles lists of words for later use with the help of vocabulary
cards, she reads a lot and she cannot repeat anything without seeing the
word/text/etc. first. Frieda loves drills and mechanical activities. Unless
she feels comfortable with a certain aspect of the language, she cannot
learn any further.
If I had a classroom full of Eds, Eugenes, Friedas and Freds, I would
probably use a deductive approach (direct instruction), which means I define
the rules/the concept first and then provide examples to demonstrate the
idea/language chunk, etc. and then I give students the chance to practise
until they achieve mastery. I do not imagine they would like to debate, work
in groups, or improvise as they do not enjoy building knowledge from their
Chapter 7 deals mainly with Gwen, the self-aware learner. Gwen has clear
linguistic goals that help her stay focused all the time. She is also
conscious in her learning, but unlike the previous learners, she dislikes
drills and mechanical activities. She loves real conversations in which she
can introduce specific points of grammar and before speaking, she makes all
sorts of links in her head between rules and meanings. So she communicates
while paying attention to the form of what she is saying. Gwen’s style of
learning is closely related to the ‘social’, that is why she learns better
on her own than in a classroom.
Stevick’s Success with Foreign Languages ends with chapter 8, which contains
the summary of the whole book and a list of things the author himself would
do if he learned a new language. I find them both extremely useful because
they allow us, as readers, to see ‘the big picture’.
Learning a foreign language is difficult and takes much commitment on the
part of both teachers and learners, because successful teaching and learning
rely on reciprocity, respect and discipline, among many other things. We
learn differently according to our personality, we learn from one another,
we learn how to share tools, ideas, successes and more importantly, we learn
more about ourselves. So, to anyone trying to understand more about the
learner in themselves or the others, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Texts for Grammar Practice.
A Brief Tutorial
by Diana Toader, "Gheorghe Asachi" College, Focşani, Vrancea
Key words:Tips and activities for teaching and exploiting texts for grammar
It has long been the practice for graded texts in coursebooks to contain
numerous examples of the same grammatical structure in order to highlight
the use of that structure in context. For example, a graded text might
contain several examples of the construction used to to illustrate a past
habit. Unless the text is skillfully written, this will often have the effect
of making the style of the text rather stilted and unrealistic but the aim
of highlighting the structure is nonetheless generally achieved with this
type of presentation. Typically, the text is then followed by comprehension
questions that again highlight the structure and then various grammar-based
practice exercises to reinforce its use in some kind of context. In the case
of authentic reading texts, however, it is rarely the case that a particular
text will have numerous examples of the same grammatical structure. It is
far more likely to employ a wide range of structures of varying complexity
and may refer to past, present and future time and make use of both
progressive and perfect aspects, as well as both active and passive voices.
1. Highlighting particular grammatical structures
If a teacher intends to make use of an authentic text to highlight a
particular grammatical structure or structures, his or her task therefore
becomes a little trickier. The teacher will have to identify a structure
that is both useful and challenging for the class he or she is teaching and
then decide how best to exploit that particular structure for further work.
It is highly likely that he or she will have to go beyond the actual text
and produce an exercise related to the example or examples in the text in
order to give substantial practice of the chosen structure. At the basic
observational level, when using an authentic task to illustrate a grammar
point, the teacher might ask the students to find (underline, highlight) an
example or examples of a particular structure in the text, for example:
In paragraph 1, find an example of a passive sentence.
Underline all the passive sentences in the text.
How many different tenses can you find expressed in the passive voice in the
Find a passive sentence in the present continuous tense.
When looking at the meaning and use in more depth, the teacher might ask
questions like these:
Why does the author use the passive voice here?
Could the author use the active voice? If so, what would the sentence be
2. Further practice
In order to give further practice of the particular structure the teacher
has chosen to focus on, it will almost certainly be necessary to prepare
some kind of exercise based on the structure (perhaps using the same context
as the text). There are several choices for exercise type here but some of
these can be used:
Matching the beginnings and endings of sentences, e.g.
The bomb was planted... ...by religious leaders.
It was detonated... ...by ambulance.
The casualties were taken to hospital... ...by a group of terrorists.
The attack was criticised... ...by remote control.
Choosing the best from a series of options, e.g.
The bomb (has/is/was) detonated by remote control.
Re-ordering jumbled words to make accurate sentences, e.g.
by was group planted the a terrorists bomb of
Filling gaps using an appropriate form, e.g.
The attack _____ criticised by religious leaders.
The casualties ______ taken to hospital
The attack was ___________ by religious leaders.
The casualties were ____________ to hospital.
Rewriting in a different tense or voice, e.g.
The attack was criticised by religious leaders.
Religious leaders criticised the attack.
Writing further sentences from prompts, e.g.
The bomb was planted by a group of terrorists.
Writing the endings of sentences, e.g.
The casualties were taken ....
The attack was criticised ...
The advantage of focusing on a structure or structures in an authentic text
such as a newspaper article is that it enables the students to see these
structures functioning in an authentic context. The disadvantage can be that
it is rarely sufficient simply to observe or to notice and, in order to give
further related practice, the teacher will almost certainly need to develop
an exercise to ‘go beyond’ the text, as exemplified above.
Students Develop Confidence. Ways of Working out Conflicts
by Mona Talancă, School no.8 Botoşani
Key words: conflict solving, bullying, willingness, manage anger, gain
control, teasing, self-respect, confidence, listening to others.
One important part of the teaching process is not only to teach students
English, but also to develop their behavior and teach them how to deal with
We sometimes face situations such as bullying or conflicts (small or big)
and we find ourselves in the situation of trying to solve them. A helpful
thing we could do is to teach our students how to help themselves or their
colleagues, because they need to develop their self respect and courage to
stand up for themselves. Here are some useful things we can teach our
Bullying and conflicts are two of the most negative phenomena that can
affect students. Conflict is a major source of stress in many children’s
lives. It’s also the cause of violence in schools, homes and the world at
large. Not knowing how to respond usually makes things even worse. Actually,
the problem isn’t the conflict itself; it’s how you choose to deal with it.
When you face a conflict, you always have a choice about how you’re going to
handle it. Many people choose negative ways of dealing with conflict - ways
that are unhelpful and usually harmful. They choose to argue, swear,
name-call, make sarcastic remarks or even fight. All these things make
But you can always choose to do something different, something better.
The good thing is that people can learn how to work out conflicts and when
they do, they’re happier. In order to learn how, you’ll need three important
1. the desire to change
2. the willingness to try something new
3. patient determination and perseverance.
Willingness is the most important step to get started. When you’re not
willing to work out a conflict, what usually happens is that people tend to
blame and generate even more conflicts.
What we need to teach our students is to take action when they see
conflicts, to become a conflict solver. The key is to act smart, not just
react. This puts them back in charge as a conflict solver instead of a
One of the best ways to handle the conflicts in your life is by observing
yourself and noticing the kinds of conflicts you get into. This way you will
have a chance to know exactly how to protect yourself from the “dangerous”
situations and be able to act properly each time you encounter them.
When the conflict occurs you need to know how to react. One important way is
to fake it till you make it. In other words, act brave and strong even if
you don’t feel that way. When you do this, you send a message to your brain
that you are brave and strong and before long, you’ll actually start
What do you do when your friends have conflicts?
If you want to make things better for your friends and you don’t know how,
here are some things you can do:
-Try not to take sides. This is very important when you feel caught between
two people who are both close friends of yours. One or both friends may ask
you for advice, or feel they really need your help. Be willing to listen but
let them know you care about both of them and need to stay neutral rather
than take sides. Remind them that you like them both and encourage them to
talk to each other.
-Don’t get involved in gossip. If you see a friend who starts talking about
the other to you or to different people, don’t join in. If someone asks you
about the conflict, you could say: “I’m not comfortable talking about it.”
-Put yourself in their place. Imagine that you were the one involved in the
conflict and think about what things would help you resolve it. Then, only
if your friends ask for advice, tell them your idea. Otherwise, don’t try to
fix the problem yourself.
-Suggest mediation. Mediation is a great way of helping solve a
disagreement. A mediator helps people work out problems without getting in
the middle of it. The person listens with an open mind, asks questions and
guides people to resolve their conflicts fairly and respectfully. If your
friends are having trouble solving their problem, you could suggest that
they talk to somebody like a teacher who can mediate.
If you want to become a conflict solver, the first step is opening your
mind. Making the decision to learn and practice ways to resolve problems
peacefully is the second one.
One of the most important things is to become a better listener, because not
listening fuels conflicts. When we don’t listen, the person speaking feels
disrespected. And someone who feels disrespected usually reacts in a
Listening helps you develop personal power and listening - really listening
- helps conflicts get better. When you listen to other people, they feel
like you care about what they have to say. Also, you start to understand
them better. And any information and understanding you gain can help you
solve the conflict. More important, when you listen to other people, they’ll
be more likely to listen to you. When you gain personal power you feel
confident, you have compassion, you respect yourself and you have courage to
stand up for what’s right.
Good listening builds good relationships, and this is why you need to
practice good listening as often as you can. If you start doing this on a
regular basis, you’ll notice that many of the people you normally get into
conflicts with will begin to act differently with you. For most conflicts,
you can help the situation enormously if you make the effort to really
listen, to pay close attention and encourage the other person to explain.
Over time you will find yourself getting along better with the people in
your life and having fewer conflicts.
Another important thing is to manage your anger and gain control. One of the
reasons why people have trouble managing anger has to do with the body’s
built–in system for surviving. When someone says or does something to get
you mad, you automatically feel one or more physical sensations in your
body: your heart might start to pound, you might feel shaky or tense, and
you might start breathing harder or feel your face heat up.
The most important thing in managing anger is to learn how to choose your
response instead of just reacting. When you do this, you take control of
yourself rather than let the anger carry you away. To keep yourself from
reacting without thinking you can use the technique “Stop, Breathe, Chill”.
Stop. When someone does something to make you mad and you feel yourself
starting to react, give yourself a message to stop just for a moment. Just
long enough to regain control.
Breathe. Taking a few deep breaths can help you calm. The next time you’re
in a conflict and feel that you’re getting angry, say “stop” to your
immediate reactions, and use deep breathing to calm you brain and body.
Chill. What you could do is send positive messages to your brain by using
calming statements. A great thing about calming statements is that you don’t
necessarily have to believe them in order for them to work. Each time you
feed your mind a calming statement, your brain will start to help you calm
down. The more you use calming statements, the more you’ll start to believe
they’re true. Some calming statements you can use are: “I can keep my cool”,
“I am in control”, No one can make me feel bad about me”, “I have the power
to stay calm”, etc.
There are many tools you can use instead of your fists. Regain control with
“Stop. Breathe. Chill” and then, if the other person isn’t threatening you
physically you can use one of these alternatives: try talking respectfully,
suggest a time-out or put yourself in that person’s place.
One of the reasons which lead to conflicts is responding to teasing.
Unfortunately many kids have the tendency to tease each other and this often
leads to bigger conflicts.
What we need to teach them is how to respond/react to teasing. Here are some
ways to stop teasing, which could help our students a lot:
1. Try not to let the teasing get the best of you. Sometimes people tease to
get a rise out of the other person. By reacting, you encourage them to do it
more. So ignore it if you can.
2. Agree with the teaser. Sometimes using humor can get the other person to
stop. If you don’t react the way that person hopes you will, she /he may
3. Ask the person to stop. Use an I message: “I’m not in the mood for this
today. Drop it.”
4. Walk away. If you ask, but the person doesn’t stop, walk away with your
head held high.
5. Avoid showing hurt or anger. Shouting or crying will make the problem
worse because people often tease to get a reaction. By reacting the way they
expect you to, you give them more power. Try to let the bad feelings out
privately or with a trusted friend or relative.
6. Talk to someone who can help. If you tried everything and the teasing
doesn’t stop, talk to someone who cares about you. This often helps you come
up with possible solutions.
7. Rehearse what you’ll say next time. Think of an I message and rehearse
what your attitude will be and what you’ll say next time.
8. Stick up for others and ask them to stick up for you. This is one of the
most important things you can do. Sticking up for others doesn’t mean
fighting or being nasty. It means speaking your mind firmly, but
respectfully. The more you do this for your friends, the more often they
will do it for you.
It is very important to be firm and to have the right body posture and make
eye contact when you speak up for yourself. This way the teaser will know
that you are not afraid or weak and he/she will probably give up the attack.
Teaching our students how to work out conflicts, be willing to work them
out, become a conflict solver, a better listener, manage anger and gain
control, stay calm or respond to teasing will definitely help them choose
the best way to react in conflict situations and will build more
self-respect and confidence in themselves.
1 .Galinsky, Ellen & Salmond, Kimberlee- “ Youth and Violence: Students
Speak Out for a More Civil Society”, Families and Work Institute and the
Colorado Trust, 2002
2 .Vail, Kathleen- ‘Words that Wound” , The American Board School Journal,
3 .Beane, Alan- “The Bully Free Classroom”, Minneapolis: Free Spirit
for Speaking Classes. Ways to Make Students Talk
by Ioana Olaru, C.N. "Dimitrie Cantemir",
Keywords: conversational activities, games in class, role-play and games,
entertaining games for English classes, effective games for English classes,
amusing games and role-play, encouraging conversation
One big reason students get so nervous when they have to speak in front of
their class is because they have a fear of looking stupid in front of their
fellow students. This fear holds for all people, when they have to speak in
front of others.
“When I was in high school, I was terrified of speaking in front of the
class. I would tremble and my mouth would fill with saliva. The only way I
could effectively give a presentation was to sit in a chair when I was in
front of the class. My English teacher frowned on this and thought I was
just trying to be different or difficult.”
This is what most students feel when they are asked to speak in front of
their classmates. However, here are some tips or tricks to use to overcome
the fear of making a mistake or looking foolish when you speak to a group:
• Know your subject matter
• Know your speech
• Have a backup, in case you forget what you want to say
• Realize that the audience isn't so special
• Practice, practice, practice
Anyway, it is not always about students and their fear of showing their
conversational or verbal potential to the others. Sometimes teachers fail to
find the right stimuli to “trick” their students to forget about their
weakness; a game, a joke or a short play are more than welcome and build a
more relaxed atmosphere than a dull discourse or a debate in which the one
with the widest range of vocabulary does all the talking.
At the beginning of my teaching career, I was not very fond of speaking
classes, mainly because I thought I would never find the most attractive
topics for my high school students. They were brilliant , young people most
of them already holding a Cambridge certificate, so it was not easy to find
something that would interest them enough and which they had not explored
already during their exam preparation period. Nevertheless, I had to start
experimenting with a few things, and I explored the resources that my fellow
teachers had shared on the Internet or in different books or magazines and
so I came across a series of topics which have been useful to me ever since.
Since I believe that others may also encounter these same problems, I will
try to indicate below some of the games and conversational gambits that I
consider to be the most appealing and effective.
Ideas of effective conversational games
The trial of the three piglets – this seems to be the most loved of all the
games I use in class. At first we watch the cartoon illustrating the story
of the three piglets to familiarize the students with the topic. I usually
announce the game in advance, giving the students a chance to choose a part
(most often they draw a small note with a part written on it) and we set up
a short play; if the class is numerous, besides the three piglets, the wolf,
their lawyers and the judge we also introduce some witnesses (usually other
fairy tale characters such as Red Riding Hood or Cinderella). In some cases,
the actors even came with improvised costumes. They were stimulated to
communicate with great ease and the amusement of the situation and of the
dialogues guarantees the success of the play.
The UFO experience – is very appreciated by the students because of the
amusing factor. I present the students a situation (“A UFO landed on a field
near your town. Some citizens witnessed the event.“) and then I assign roles
for them (a little child, a housewife, a crazy scientist, a dog, an old man
etc) and I ask them to present the event from their own perspective,
offering as many details as possible. My students came with great funny
stories and their classmates were delighted.
Who’s the criminal – this game works mainly with intermediate or
upper-intermediate students because it does not require advanced vocabulary.
You divide the students into groups (3 or 4, depending on their number). You
prepare 39 cards (13 with some fairy tale character names on them, 13 with
places and 13 with weapons). At the beginning of the game, you extract one
card of each sort and you place them aside, then you give the others to the
groups in equal number. You ask questions (from the lesson they had to
prepare, definitions for words, prepositions etc) and the first team who
answers correctly has the right to try to uncover the killer. They give a
statement such as: “In the forest, Prince Charming killed the victim with a
sword”, avoiding mentioning the places, characters or weapons they have
written on their cards. The other teams look at their cards and if they are
in possession of any of the elements mentioned, they are obliged to show
them to the others. After a few rounds, one of the teams will manage to
discover the three cards which were hidden at the beginning of the game. It
is quite interesting especially if you deal with new groups or classes, such
as 9th graders, because it encourages team spirit and competitiveness in a
relaxed and playful environment.
When learning a second language in a classroom setting, it's common for
students to be shy when it comes to having open discussions. Role-play
activities games and are an effective way for English as a Second Language
teachers to encourage students to speak English and interact in realistic
situations during class. In the games or role-play activities, always
encourage your students to include physical and vocal expressions, as this
will make the activity more fun and help them understand the flow of the
language better. Do not keep thinking that only the serious stuff will make
them become good at English; sometimes the pleasant and fun activities are
the ones which teach the most.
Fun with Grammar. Making
Grammar Meaningful and Enjoyable
by Lăcrimioara Nasui, “Avram Iancu” High School, Cluj-Napoca,
Keywords: interaction, communication, meaningful contexts, lexical
sets, structures, efficiency, pair work, group work, dictation, writing
What is grammar?
If you ask the average speaker of a language what they know about the
grammar of their own language, they may remember the odd lesson from
school, but beyond that, they will say that they have forgotten what
grammar they once knew. Linguists have found that the grammatical system
is rule-based and that the competent users of the language “know” these
rules in some way.
But then a question arises. What should a language learner know? Since
the knowledge of grammar is essential for competent users of a language,
it is clearly necessary for our students. Our aim in teaching grammar
should be to ensure that students are communicatively efficient with the
grammar they have at their level. We may not teach them the finer points
of style at the intermediate level, but we should make sure that they
can use what they know.
As teachers, we should be prepared to use a variety of techniques to
help our students learn and acquire grammar. Sometimes this involves
teaching grammar rules; sometimes it means allowing students to discover
the rules for themselves; sometimes it’s all about using games, warmers
and other funny and interactive activities to make language structures
“stick” on them!
Grammar can be fun
1. Change places if…
Level: all. Type of activity: warmer. Target language: lexical sets;
The aim of this activity is to practice vocabulary and structures, e.g.
clothes, likes and dislikes, present continuous, future forms, present
Students sit in a circle or several circles (if you have a big class).
Stand in the middle of the circle. The person standing in the middle
does not have a seat in the circle. Start the activity by giving an
instruction using the target language. For example, “Change places if
you’re wearing a watch.” All students stand up and sit down again in
another seat. The person standing in the middle of the circle tries to
sit down in a free seat. The person left without a seat now gives a new
instruction. For example, “Change places if you’re wearing white socks.”
2. Sentences in a hat
Level: all. Type of activity: mingle/group-work. Target language:
The aim of this activity is to practice structures and question forms.
Cut up scrap paper into small squares so that there are three or four
for each student in the class. Give three or four small blank pieces of
paper to each student in the class and ask them to write one piece of
information on each piece of paper. When they have done this, ask them
to fold up their pieces of paper and put them in a hat (box). Mix up the
folded bits of paper in the hat/box and ask the students to take one
each, unfold it and find the person who wrote it by asking questions.
Examples of information to write on the pieces of paper:
-to practice simple past forms: three things you ate /drank yesterday;
three things you did at the weekend
-to practice future: three things you’re going to do tonight/at the
-to practice present perfect: three places you have visited/ three books
you have read in English
-to practice conditionals: three things you would do if you won
3. Sentence completion
Level: intermediate and up. Type of activity: group-work. Target
The aim of this activity is to practice a chosen selection of
structures. Prepare a different sentence stem for each student. The
stems should all be capable of taking a variant of the same verb phrase.
For example: “go to the cinema”
“Do you fancy…?” “Would you like…?” “Tomorrow, Sue and I …”
Give one sentence stem to each student in the class. Write the chosen
verb phrase on the board and elicit a few sentences using it in
different grammatical structures. Students then read out their stems to
other members of their group. The student who completes the stem
appropriately using the verb phrase claims the stem card and reads out
his own card. The group continues to work in this way until all the
structures have been taught and corrected by the students themselves.
4. Final word
Level: low intermediate and higher. Type of activity: warmer/ confidence
builder. Target language: sentence syntax.
The aim of this activity is to practice word position in the sentence.
Think of a sentence. Make sure that each word in the sentence can come
at the end of a grammatically correct sentence. Ask the students to work
in small groups. Tell them that you are going to give them a limited
time to write sentences and that each sentence must end with a word from
a sentence you give them. For example, if the sentence is With great
pleasure, we welcome you all here in Oxford, ask them to write ten
sentences with each one ending with a different word from the sentence.
Who are you going to the party with?
The film we saw last night was great.
A difficult word to end a sentence is “we”.
5. Picture running dictation
Level: all. Type of activity: pair-work. Target language: structures.
Find a picture-based practice activity for the structure you want to
practice, for example from a workbook or from a grammar practice book.
Copy the pictures, cut them out and stick them on a poster. Number the
pictures and then cover them with post-its. Display the poster on the
wall. Ask the students to work in pairs or small groups.
Each pair or group will need a blank piece of paper to write sentences
on. One member of each group stands next to the poster and, when you cal
out a number, looks at the appropriate picture. They should think of a
sentence requiring the target structure. This student then returns to
their group and dictates the sentence to their partner(s), spelling
words as necessary. When they have finished, a different student from
the group goes to the poster and repeats the procedure with a new
picture. Continue till all the sentences have been dictated and check
answers open class.
6. Speculation game
Level: low intermediate and up. Type of activity: group-work. Target
language: modals of speculation.
The aim of this is to guess what might be missing from pictures and to
use modals like might, may, could, must, can’t for speculation.
Find a selection of magazine pictures and cut out one detail from each
picture. Number the pictures. Ask the students to work in pairs or small
groups and to write down as many numbers as there are pictures. Give
each pair or small group of students a different picture and ask them to
write notes about what they think the missing object could be. When they
have done that, ask them to give their picture to the students on their
left and take the picture from the students on their right and to repeat
the activity. Continue until all the students have written notes about
all the pictures. Compare students’ ideas and reveal the real missing
1.TKT Course (Teaching Knowledge Test), Mary Spratt, Alan Pulverness,
Melanie Williams; Cambridge 2005
2. TKT Glossary, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, Cambridge
3. The Practice of English Language Teaching (3rd edition), Jeremy
4. Steps to Success. A starter pack for newly qualified teachers, Sue
Leather, British Council 2007
Discover Your Child’s Natural Motivation
by Roxana Nicola,
Liceul Teoretic “Dimitrie Cantemir”, Iaşi
Keywords: motivation, homework, projects,
Tim is in the fifth grade. So far, he’s been a rather poor student. Testing
has revealed no learning disabilities, but Tim isn’t achieving to his
potential. He just doesn’t seem to care about his homework. He’s rather
spend his time making forts with his friends or just tinkering in the
Annette lives just a few doors away. She’s a very bright student and loves
school. Always willing to tackle new projects, she’s a rising star. When not
at school, she reads and does extra projects. Her teachers are as proud of
her accomplishments as her parents are. As dedicated as she is, she is
expected to go far by all who know her.
Now for the compelling question: “Which of these two students is motivated
and which is not?” If you answered that Annette has lots of motivation and
Tim has virtually none, you would be very wrong. Actually, both of these
young people are highly motivated. The difference lies in where their
energies are focused. Tim likes to tinker and work outdoors, while Annette
likes to study and learn within a classroom environment. The contrast
between these two young people also debunks the myth of the “unmotivated”
person. As an adult or as a child, there is no such thing.
While everyone is motivated, their directions for personal motivation vary
greatly. What parents are most concerned about in an “unmotivated” child is
that the child is not “achieving” to potential in school. They realize how
important learning is to future success. They fear that their child, whose
energies are focused primarily on nonacademic endeavors, will never “make
it”. Sometimes such parental fears are well founded. Sometimes they are not.
Close examination of the emotional reasons for achieving is required to tell
If may be that both Tim and Annette have healthy achievement motivation. But
for the sake of argument, let’s look at some other possibilities. Tim, for
example, may not be academically oriented because of past experiences that
have been turned into emotionally painful failures as the result of his
parents’ responses. Thus, his nonacademic inclinations may be motivated by
the fear of more failures. On the other hand, Annette may be driven to high
accomplishments because she has learned that this is the only way she can
get any kind of positive response from her parents. For her, success has
become heavily linked to self-esteem, so she can’t stop achieving.
In these typical situations, appearances are deceptive. Depending on prior
experiences, the academic motivations of Tim and Annette could be healthy or
unhealthy. The point is that parents’ understanding of their children is
absolutely essential to developing healthy achievement motivation. In order
to gain a clear perspective on the maturation of their children, parents
must overcome at least three emotional barriers that tend to distort their
perceptions. These barriers are:
• Parental frustration with the child’s irresponsibility. A familiar lament
of parents heard everywhere: “We try so hard, but no matter what we do to
teach our kids sound values and responsible behaviour, it just doesn’t seem
to take”. The fact is that children will learn values if they are reinforced
consistenly and modeled well by their parents. Far too often, parents let
their frustration and anger determine their responses to their children, and
those responses are often emotionally destructive. Parents must be calm,
cool and consistently positive in responding to their children’s endeavors.
• Fears about the child’s ultimate ability to “make it”. Parental
frustration, without an understanding of the childhood learning process, can
give way to deep fears about a child’s future. “I don’t want my son to
fail”, or “I want my daughter to have all that I have and more”. These fears
often lead parents to begin pressuring children at an early age to achieve.
Such responses, however, may cause some children to rebel and resist
learning. A vicious cycle often ensues in which the parents push harder and
harder, provoking a child to resist all the more stubbornly.
• Parental fantasies about what a child should become as an adult. Virtually
every parent has a fantasy about what a child can be and should be. But if
parents’ fantasies are allowed to become expectations, the child can be lost
in the parents’ grand vision. A child’s directions become what the parent
wants them to be, and in the process, a child’s interests, aptitudes and
aspirations may be completely ignored. A far healthier strategy is for
parents to encourage their child to develop career directions and personal
potentials without imposing their own.
Learners through Digital Storytelling. Rationale, Guide, and Tips for Using
by Anişoara Pop, Dimitrie Cantemir
University of Târgu Mureş and Susana Gómez Martinez, University of
Keywords: digital storytelling, creative writing, Storybird
Storytelling is part of our daily lives since
stories “maintain bonds, share traditions, unite generations” (1). But what
are the reasons for incorporating digital storytelling in the EFL learning
This article will present the rationale and benefits of digital storytelling
for English learning by focusing on Storybird, a very simple and fascinating
storytelling tool suitable for young learners and teenagers as well.
Why storytelling? Because “Stories are the way we relate to the world, and
hence to each other. They communicate life and captivate listeners”(2). We
use storytelling in the classroom in order to enhance the language learning
and introduce new words in context, which makes the whole process of
understanding and memorizing much more meaningful and easier.
Why digital storytelling? Simply put, because for the new generations of
‘digital natives’ (7), images and music are an important part of their
learning process, most children nowadays being used to a multi-media
experience in their lives. Therefore, digital storytelling represents added
value for the XXIst century teacher since, besides being captivating, it
engages mnemonic devices that speed up language acquisition.
Secondly, exploitation of digital storytelling will make our class a more
democratic environment, offering equal chances of expression to students
with mixed abilities while making all of them published authors. Children
will be extremely proud and therefore motivated to become published authors
for a potentially world-wide audience.
Why is it for me? When it comes to engaging students in digital
storytelling, teachers might be reluctant for different reasons that range
from lack of adequate equipment in schools to lack of adequate ICT knowledge
and fear of face loss in front of digitally-proficient students.
Nonetheless, the majority of our students have a computer with Internet
access at home, so storytelling can become inciting homework or part of
evaluation portfolios and children will love to see that their teacher has
commented on their stories. Furthermore, Storybird is one of the simplest,
user-friendly, free, memorable, and extremely versatile tools and you need
no special digital literacy to use it. So, if you have not included
technology in your teaching so far or would like to adopt a new attractive
storytelling tool, try Storybird. Sharing stories is extremely important for
children's literacy development, and this site encourages them to create and
share their own stories.
Below you will find out how to create a Storybird, where to look for further
tutorials if you want to create a class account and moderate comments as
well as examples you may wish to consider before creating your own
How to create a Storybird
Storybirds offer ready-made digital visualisation of high quality and thus
bring extra value to the students’ written production. They “are short,
art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print” (1)
Storybird is a site that allows you and your students to create and publish
stories. It “provides whole collections of artwork around a theme or topic.
The artwork is by amazing artists and the collections are linked, so all the
pictures have the same ‘look and feel’ and can be easily fitted together to
create a very professional looking story”(9). It regularly reverses the
process of visual storytelling by starting with the image and ‘unlocking’
the story inside.
In order to create a Storybird you have to:
1. Go to http://storybird.com/;
2. Click on “Sign up” to create an account;
1. Click on “Create” and you will be given the following options: 1. “Get
inspired by art” and 2. “Explore themes” (Be careful! - “Take the Challenge”
option is for +18 ages and participants from a restricted number of
2. Picking your art will take you to the main writing area. You will see all
the photos by the artist you have chosen. If you click on each photo, you
will see a larger image. When you decide on a certain image, drag it onto
the canvas in the middle. A box will appear to the left/right top indicating
where the image will be placed. The place can be changed through click and
drag. Then you will be able to insert text in the text box, either at the
top/bottom, right/left, according to the image placement you selected;
3. At the bottom of the page you will see the “Page Organizer”. You can
delete/add more pages and drag more photos. The cover will appear
automatically as the first image you have chosen, but of course it can be
re-edited if you change your mind;
4. Stories are saved automatically or you can save them manually by clicking
5. From the menu choose “Publish” if you want to make the story public.
Teachers can set up accounts for their pupils and organise them into
classes. In order to set up a class account you need to register your
students and assign them a username (the format JohnS – first name plus
first letter of the surname – can be an alternative, so that way you and
your pupils know who it is but nobody else does). Storybird then
automatically generates an account and a random password for them that they
can change to something more memorable on first log-on. You can moderate and
publish the pupils’ stories, tailor class privacy settings, comments and
discussion threads to suit your students’ requirements or maturity (see the
tutorial at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/31747391/Storybird-Class-Directions).
The work pupils produce is then shared among the members of the class and
can be published for the whole world to see. Storybird has no chat function
or personal profiles and administrators (in this case teachers) moderate all
public books and comments. This way students can see and learn from their
colleagues and the teacher takes a less visible, facilitating role (6).
Students can email their completed story to themselves or others, share
their stories online with their classmates or on an interactive whiteboard,
or they can be embedded in a website or blog.
You can find out more about how to create Storybirds from Russell Stannard’s
professional tutorial at Teacher Training Videos (8) or by reading the HowTo
Guide at Storybird Ning (5).
Tips for exploiting Storybird
Storybird is an easy tool to get students involved in creative writing.
Specific tasks can include but are not limited to:
- Retelling a story pupils are familiar with in a creative way since not
always will they find the exact photo to match the story line. Example:
- Introducing themselves to the class: Who Am I . Example: http://storybird.com/books/who-am-i-39/
- Writing about any subject you might do in class: hobbies, shopping, family
and friends. Example: http://storybird.com/books/my-family-and-my-friends/
- Creating a ‘once upon a time’ story. Example of story on friendship:
- Consolidating grammar points. Examples: verbal tenses (present, past and
future: http://storybird.com/books/the-presentpast-and-the-future/); If only
(http://storybird.com/books/if-only-4/ ); wishes (http://storybird.com/books/i-wish-15/
), and many more.
Depending on the students’ age, proficiency and equipment, you can either
model a class Storybird or start the writing on paper in class and ask
pupils to finish it at home by matching content with images, although, as
mentioned above, the process starts the other way round by matching the
existing images to student-generated content (3).
You can also choose to give pupils instructions as to minimum-maximum number
of pages, number of sentences per page (single words can also be used for
increased effect!), to check the spelling, to use formal language, the turn
in deadline and method (email the website address so that you may find and
view the project) and last but not least, to be creative!
Strengths and Opportunities
Storybird is a great tool for language teaching. Some of the reasons are
- Editing is possible, so if pupils make mistakes, these can be corrected
and learning is more memorable.
- Storybird allows pupils to collaborate on a story. You can invite students
to take turns to add new pages to the story. In order to collaborate, click
“Invite someone” from the menu in the story writing area or from the
Unpublished Storybird area.
- Pupils can be directed to read from the site and/or print and bring to
class their favorite story. Alternatively, the teacher can choose a story,
print it and use it in class as any other material for group work jigsaw
reading, fill in, etc.
- Motivation can be further enhanced by setting up a Storybird prize-winning
competition on different occasions (Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc.).
What teachers say about Storybird
Teachers’ opinions are highly illustrative as to the versatility,
user-friendliness and resourcefulness of Storybird, as it can be seen in the
- “This site is just fantastic. It is one of my best finds of 2010. It
provides amazing collections of art which you can use to write stories which
you can save as books. It is really professional and the results can be
- @NancySlawski “storybird is awesome” (4);
- @yolajb If you are an English teacher and you haven't used StoryBird
yet,do it. (4).
To conclude, if you are eager and willing to spice your lessons and engage
your students in digital storytelling, start with Storybird! It is really
simple, rapid, and fun and the artwork available is just fabulous.
Erin Klein 2011
4. *** http://www.twitter.com
6. Picardo, J. (2011) Storybird for Modern Foreign Languages – A Box of
Tricks, available at: http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=1967
7. Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants – On the Horizon,
MCB University Press, vol. 9 no.5, available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf
8. Stannard, R. - Teacher Training Videos at: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/storybird/index.html
9. Stannard, R. - Gems on the Web http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2010/12/06/gems-on-the-web-storybird/
Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English
ISSN 1844 – 6159
Edited by Ovidiu Aniculăese