Synonyms, Antonyms, and Asides

Watch the first 3 minutes of this intermediate Story Listening demonstration.  In it, Dr. Beniko Mason makes use of the antonyms, synonyms, and asides.

A man “was poor, not rich…he had little”

“He longed for , wished for, wanted to have”

“a small house, a tiny hut”

“He lived a lonely life; he lived alone…He lived a quiet life.”

Something fell in a bush. “A bush is a small true, not a tall tree…like a rose bush.”

It was “wounded,” “hurt,”  “injured”

 

In the Story Listening Toolkit, Dr. Krashen and Dr. Mason suggest building on words students already know as you introduce new, rich and unfamiliar words. antonyms, synonyms, and asides builds the schematic constructs linking new messages and language to language we already understand.

The following diagram visually represents this strategy, but if this diagram seems confusing, ignore it and just follow Dr. Mason’s example above.  The end result should be natural, not formulaic.

 

Easiest

(ex. cognate)

Moderate

(not a cognate but high frequency)

Hardest

(not a cognate, low frequency)

synonym X X X
antonym X X X

 

Example 

 

Story 1:  Turandot  (English / French)

Easiest

(ex. cognate)

Moderate

(not a cognate but high frequency)

Hardest

(not a cognate, not high frequency)

romance love (they aren’t ready for harder words)
detest hate (they aren’t ready for harder words)

“Turandot wants love… she wants romance.  (Romance is the same in Spanish).”

“Turandot hates the princes…she detests them.  (Detest is the same Spanish)

…She does not love the princes.  The princes say they love her, but she hates them.”

 

Story 2:  Sweetheart Roland

Easiest

(ex. cognate)

Moderate

(not a cognate but high frequency)

Hardest

(not a cognate, not high frequency)

romance love sweetheart
detest hate loath

“She loves Roland.  Roland loves her.  It’s a serious romance. (serious and romance are the same in Spanish).  They are sweethearts.”

“The witch hates her.  She loathes her!  She wants her to die.”


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Extra Activities: Simplify, Simplify

At the end of class just before Labor Day vacation, my students reflected on how much they had learned in just 8 class periods.  They knew words like “says,” “go” and “goes away forever,” “love,” “feels sad or happy,” and their favorite “die!”  The students spontaneously decided they wanted to list the words they knew on the board for the last few minutes of class.  They felt empowered watching the list grow.

Did this or any skill-building or vocabulary activity help them acquire language?  No, but it felt fun and generated interest in hearing more stories. Story Listening may be used with occasional fun, low-accountability activities, but when the story itself becomes just an “extra activity” it is no longer Story Listening.

Story Listening is telling stories in a comprehensible way, sometimes using targeting 2 to clarify.  According to Dr. Beniko Mason, “A story-listening lesson should not include dictation exercises, should not be accompanied with fill-in-the-blanks, or match-the–short-dialogs-and-the-pictures exercises. It’s the story that counts.”

This method was developed over many decades of research showing that “stories plus activities” contributes to second language acquisition less efficiently than stories alone (Mason 2013, 2007, 2004).  Yes, telling stories in any form will provide the input needed to show growth, but choosing to cut out “extra activities” for time’s sake is more efficient.

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Craftsman who create something elegantly simple and streamlined would be frustrated to then see the clutter re-appear.  They would want to distance their work from those who seek to add back in the unnecessary extras.

Some “educational consultants” are no doubt hoping to use Story Listening as the latest buzzword activity at their next conference, but Story Listening is more about what we chose not to do than what we are doing.  Story Listening is unburdening teachers from too many extra activities, and finding time for stories.  Story Listening is simply reminding ourselves that although it is not as flashy as the latest Breakout activity and it won’t get you as many re-tweets: “It’s the story that counts.”

 

“A child sitting in a quiet room with a good book isn’t a flashy or marketable teaching method. It just happens to be the only way anyone ever became a reader.”

-Nancie Atwell


 

Cited:

Mason, B. (2013). Efficient use of literature in second language education: Free reading and listening to stories. In J. Bland and C. Lutge (Eds.), Children’s literature in second language education (pp. 25-32). London: Bloomsbury.  Available at: http://www.benikomason.net/content/articles/the_efficient_use_of_literature_in_second_language_education.pdf

Mason, B. (2004). The effect of adding supplementary writing to an extensive reading program.  The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (IJFLT), 2(2): 12-15.

Mason, B.  (2007). The Efficiency of Self-Selected Reading and Hearing Stories on Adult Second Language Acquisition s, more efficient.  “Selected Papers from the sixteenth international symposium on English Teaching.” English Teachers’ Association / ROC, Taipei: 630-633.  Accessed at: http://beniko-mason.net/content/articles/the_efficiency_of_self-selected_reading_and_hearing_stories_on_adult_second_language_acquisition.pdf

Story Listening + Book Talk

Is it a Book Talk or Story Listening? Is sharing your favorite cars magazines Free Voluntary Reading or can it morph into content-based instruction?  When sharing books and stories that inspire genuine curiosity, my classroom will not be limited to a single method.

Here I combine Story Listening with a Book Talk on the book Cardboard by Doug Tennapel.  The overlap between Story Listening and Sheltered Popular Literature is obvious: there is no test or comprehension questions, just an invitation to join in a good story.  (Note, the book was swooped up by an eager reader before the end of the Book Talk.)

A Story Listening Identity

My students have started to identify as folklorists.  “I know so many stories,” they boast.  Like generations before them, they succumb to the urge to retell the stories to friends and family.  On their own time, they research and request lesser known folktales.  Just like FVR, Story Listening helps children develop an identity that connects them to the world in a bigger way–a Story Listening identity.

Story Listening: Frequently Asked Questions

 

1.   What is Story Listening?

Story Listening is orally telling stories with: illustrations, gestures, and modified speech our students will understand.  Story Listening was developed and researched by Dr. Beniko Mason, who has many resources here.

 

2.  How do I get started? 

Story Listening does not require special training, however watching a live demonstration helps. Here’s my full explaination of getting started with Story Listening.  Consider watching videos in a foreign langauge like Kathrin Shechtman’s German Story Listening videos to experience the story from a learner’s perspective.

 

3.   How do I prepare for the story?   How do I actually tell the story? 

Continue reading Story Listening: Frequently Asked Questions

Early Writing

We do not learn to write by writing; we learn to write by reading (Krashen 2; Smith 558).   Writing can (1) assess and celebrate growth and (2) give students a voice and engage them with text so they will want to read more.

Writing serves its purpose best when we allow children to write on their own timetable with limited correction or prompting.  No comprehension questions, only good stories and blank paper (and maybe a candy cane or other such silliness around Christmas).

20161213_163451415_ios-1 Continue reading Early Writing

Just Try Story Listening

Running on emotion and very little sleep and sporting a very sloppy ponytail, I opened the door to my classroom. Returning to school after the deadly fire that rampaged through my small, rural Tennessee town was the most difficult day of my career. My children were reeling from great loss and insecurity.  I struggled for words to calm their nerves and soothe their hearts.

I turned to the simplicity of Story Listening to tell the story of the phoenix: a story of hope rising from the ashes, as we were going to need to do.

http://www.phoenixarises.com/phoenix/legends/story.htm Continue reading Just Try Story Listening