Paired Storytelling Strategy

Paired Storytelling Strategy
The paired storytelling strategy (Lie, 1993) was developed as an alternative to strategies that rely solely
on translating words and phrases. It encourages foreign students in high school and college to use prior
knowledge to improve comprehension of reading assignments. Both reading and writing skills are
integrated with group activities in the paired storytelling strategy.
"This approach includes five characteristics important in teaching students to read in a foreign language:
(a) that students' cultural background plays an important role in reading comprehension; (b) that L2
(second language) readers should use the same sorts of skills as effective L1 (first language) readers do;
(c) that reading should be integrated with writing; (d) that students should be engaged in nonthreatening
cooperative contexts; and (e) that they should have the opportunity to process information effectively
and communicate in the target languge (TL)" (Lie, 1993, p. 656).
The paired storytelling strategy has several advantages. First, it gives ESL students the opportunity to
converse in the target language in an informal setting on a one-on-one basis. Because it is a group
endeavor, paired storytelling encourages cooperation, motivation, and confidence. Self-esteem often is
impacted positively. Second, verbal use of the target language improves the students' skills in reading
and writing the language. A third advantage of the strategy is the contextualized practice with vocabulary
that it provides. New words are used in meaningful ways by both partners in each pair.
The paired storytelling strategy requires guidance by a facilitator. Directions for using the paired
storytelling strategy are outlined below.
1. Divide Students.
Break the class into pairs of students.
2. Introduce Topics.
Introduce the topic of the reading assignment and write it on the board or overhead
3. Brainstorm.
Help the students brainstorm about the topic. What previous knowledge do they have about
the topic? How does it relate to personal experiences?
The facilitator should emphasize that there are no "right" answers or comments in this initial
stage. The point is to activate the students' background and to encourage them to anticipate
what they might find in the assignment.
For the facilitator, the brainstorming stage is important for evaluating whether or not the
students' knowledge base is adequate for the reading assignment. If necessary, the facilitator
may provide additional background information relevant to the reading.
4. Distribute Assignment.
Divide the reading assignment into two parts. Give a copy of the first section to one student
in each group, and a copy of the second section to the other student in each pair.
5. Read and Annotate.

As each student reads his/her section, he/she should write down the main ideas in the order
in which they appear in the text. It may be helpful to limit the number of main points to be
recorded for each of the two sections of text.
6. Exchange Lists.
The students in each pair then exchange their lists of key ideas with their partners. The
students are given a few minutes to evaluate his/her partner's list with respect to the section
he/she read and annotated. At this stage, if a student does not understand an item on his/her
partner's list, the facilitator or partner may define it or use it in a sentence in the target
7. Write a Story.
Using his/her partner's list as well as recollections of the section he/she read, each student
composes his/her own version of the missing section. The student who read the first section
predicts what happens in the end, and the student who read the second section predicts what
happened in the beginning.
8. Read Stories.
The partners then read their versions of the missing sections to each other. The facilitator
also may seek volunteers to read their versions to the entire class. During this stage, it is
important to forbid teasing or deriding by the other students.
9. Comparison.
The missing sections are then distributed to the students, who read it and compare it to their
own versions.
10. Discussion.
The complete story is then discussed within each pair and/or by the entire class. The former
situation is better if students are wary of speaking in front of others. The facilitator may
move among the pairs to monitor the discussion.

11. Evaluation.
The facilitator may choose to quiz students on the reading assignment. If so, the evaluations
should be completed individually.
section outlines strategies to help one prepare for the reading comprehension sections of standardized
tests. Because respectible standardized test scores are necessary for admission into undergraduate,
graduate, and professional programs, it is important to perform well on the reading comprehension
portions of these tests.
Reading comprehension tests usually contain excerpts of text a few hundred words in length. Topics of
the text vary widely from popular culture to natural science to current politics. Each passage is followed
by several questions based on the text. The number of questions is proportional to the length of the
Three strategies for improving performance on reading comprehension tests are knowing typical
questions on reading comprehension, reading the passage before the questions, and practicing reading
skills (REFERENCE). Other strategies such as underlining and annotating are discussed.
For more strategies, see the Reading Comprehension Tests section of the Test Taking page.


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