Engaging Students With Authentic Ways to Learn New Words: Use of Storytelling in the L2 Classroom

Engaging Students With Authentic Ways to Learn New Words: Use of Storytelling in the L2 Classroom

Barbara Loranc-Paszylk (University of Bielsko-Biala, Poland) and Magdalena Firla (Catholic Elementary School in Cieszyn, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8543-5.ch006

Abstract

This chapter investigates the impact of storytelling on second language (L2) vocabulary recall among secondary school students. Increasing learners' command of vocabulary is a crucial factor in learning foreign languages. One way to increase effectiveness of vocabulary learning is through the use of storytelling. The study used a within-subject design, and the participants (n=45) were tested on their vocabulary learning in three conditions: digital storytelling (use of animated videos), storytelling (audio narration only), and explicit vocabulary learning with the use of word list and definitions. Quantitative analyses of students' vocabulary test results revealed both audio-based storytelling and digital storytelling to be effective techniques of learning new words in the L2 classroom.
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Introduction

To meet the needs of the 21st century learner, language educators must provide the students with meaningful and engaging activities. Educators aim at identifying various methods and techniques of effective vocabulary learning. It is also essential for teacher candidates to become aware of ways to engage their future language learners and be prepared to provide effective instruction in the target language related to improving the learners’ lexical competence.

The importance of learners’ vocabulary size in increasing language capacity and fluency has been widely recognized (Nation, 2001, Hulstijn, 2005; Schmitt, 2010). Various language methods and techniques have been developed to assist learners with their vocabulary learning. Recently, new technologies have been providing novel instruments and settings to achieve this aim. The use of these technologies can facilitate vocabulary learning (Blake, 2013) by presenting information with the multimedia, and therefore offering more authentic and multi-sensory contexts for language learning.

Storytelling is known for promoting second language learning primarily with regard to vocabulary learning, but also it contributes to improving listening comprehension, speaking abilities, as well as reading skills (Kasper & Prior, 2015; Luongo-Orlando, 2001; Malkina, 1995; Morgan & Rinvolucri, 1983). Studies have also explored other benefits of incorporating storytelling into L2 classroom, for example, enhanced intercultural awareness (Hines, 1995). Storytelling is reported to stimulate imagination and promote creative thinking (Wright, 1995), as well as to develop appreciation and positive attitudes towards the target language (Luongo-Orlando, 2001) and increase interactivity in the classroom (Vecino, 2006). Although most of the studies in this area have focused on the effectiveness of storytelling in learning new words by younger learners (Cameron, 2001; Hines, 1995; Pedersen, 1995), attention has been also paid to how adult learners can benefit from storytelling in diverse professional contexts (Steslow & Gardner, 2011) as well as in the EFL classroom (Kim &McGarry, 2014; Morgan & Rinvolucri, 1983; Vecino, 2006).

The aim of this study is to investigate how incorporating storytelling into the classroom settings can contribute to secondary school students’ vocabulary learning. To provide better insights, the participants were tested in three conditions: digital storytelling (use of animated videos), storytelling (audio narration only) and explicit vocabulary learning with the use of word list and definitions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Storytelling: Presenting language students with narratives delivered in the target language in the animated mode, in the form of video clips, accompanied by audio narration and/or subtitles.

Incidental Vocabulary Learning: Acquiring new target language words while being engaged in reading or listening to the target language input.

Intentional Vocabulary Learning: Learning new target language words while being focused on their form and content.

Audio-Based Storytelling: Presenting language students with narratives delivered in the target language in the audio mode – they can be either read aloud or played from the recording.

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