I don’t know who wrote the article below – probably Beniko Mason – but if you don’t do story listening you should be, at least part of the time. Beniko told me that a good ratio is 80% NTCI and 20% SL:
Story-Listening (SL) classes attempt to provide a massive amount of meaningful aural comprehensible input. This means telling stories frequently in class, not just once a week, not only on special occasions, and not only at the end of the term. Instead, Story-Listening becomes central to the curriculum where at least two or three times a week stories are told.
Story-Listening Provides Rich Input
I have used folktales and fairy tales from countries throughout the world that have stood the test of time. The written version of these stories contains rich language in terms of vocabulary and structures. Roughly 85% of each text is written using words from the most frequent 2000 words of English (high frequency words), but the other 15% includes low frequency words, academic words, and business words. One can find this information from the following site by typing in any text in the designated space on the screen (http://www.lextutor.ca/vpeng/).
The themes in the stories cover a wide range of topics such
as deception, betrayal, poverty, courage, true love, loyalty, friendship, mercy, secrets, ghosts, disobedience, quarrels, jealousy, temptation, discipline, fidelity, faith, adultery, patience, diligence, devotion, and many others. The characters in the stories also have many different professions – thief, woodcutter, hunter, money-lender, doctor, minister, priest, carpenter, farmer, inn-keeper, wine shop owner, servant, sentinel, soldier, and of course king, queen, witch, and wizard. There are words for stones, plants, animals, weather, vehicles, and tools, to name a few.
Story-Listening is an effective vehicle for vocabulary acquisition. It has been reported that the rate of vocabulary acquisition is .10 to .25 words per minute with Story-Listening for English as a foreign language Japanese college students (Mason, 2005; Mason & Krashen, 2004; Mason, Vanata, Jander, Borsch, & Krashen, 2009). This means that when students listen to 100 hours of stories, it is fair to expect that they can acquire from 600 to 1500 words in 100 hours of lessons. For first year students, acquiring 600 words after hearing 100 hours of stories is a fair expectation. However, the next year their acquisition rate will be faster and the number of words that they acquire will be more than 600. In other words, we can expect them to acquire words more rapidly as their competence improves.
The Method – Three Different Stages
Story-Listening (SL) lessons can be delivered in three different stages. In an SL class for beginners, teachers give a substantial amount of support in order to make the input comprehensible – drawings, pictures, writing words on the board, and using the students’ first language to translate when needed or briefly explain a part of a story in L1 for beginners. All that is required is that the story be reasonably comprehensible for all students. In every class, students vary in competence; a story that is reasonably comprehensible for everyone will give all students the input they need to progress, even though what is acquired may vary from student to student. In technical terms, everybody gets i+1, even though it may be a different i+1 for each student.
After students become accustomed to this method and their proficiency improves, the supports are gradually reduced, with more reliance on linguistic context than non-linguistic context.
The third and last stage is when a story is told without drawings or translation. The story can be simply told and explained in the target language for the advanced level. Thus, the Story-Listening method can be used for several years in a language program.
Conscious Targeted Learning?
When pictures are drawn on the board and new words are written next to the picture, it looks as though conscious targeted learning
on new vocabulary is included. Not so. It is done because it might
be the exact visual input some students may need to understand
the aural input. It might also reduce some students’ anxiety. Some are more interested in using consciously learned competence than others (Krashen, 1981), but my experience is that most students do not think about grammatical rules when they see the pictures and written words: their focus is on comprehension of the story.
There is no test on vocabulary or comprehension after listening to a story. At the end of the lesson, students are asked to submit a summary written in their native language to let the teacher know to what extent they understood the story. This becomes the formative evaluation of each student and it tells the teacher how well she/he did the lesson that day.
Students will easily listen to a story for 30 minutes after the experience of listening to a few easy short stories (15 to 20 minutes). They will be able to sustain their attention much longer as they improve (80 minutes). It is so enjoyable that they want to hear more.
A Few More Benefits
Another advantage of this method is that students do not need to buy a textbook. All the teacher needs is a thick storybook
or free downloads from the Internet. Students do not need to have a computer, either. SL can be done without copy machines and paper.
Furthermore, SL is not just for small kindergarten children. It is for everyone. Even my senior adult students enjoy listening to stories (Mason, 2011, 2013a, 2013b).
In Japan, there is little chance to receive comprehensible input in English unless they intentionally seek it on the net. For students who are not interested in English, this SL method provides aural comprehensible input in class. SL is also a bridge to reading in English (Cho &Choi, 2008). With both listening (only 26 to 40 stories a year) and reading (100 to 150 pages per week) my students have improved their proficiency from mid beginning to high intermediate level in several years (Mason, 2006; Krashen & Mason, 2015; Mason & Krashen, 2017).
Comprehension Hypothesis should provide more progress than traditional approaches that meet for more hours (forthcoming). Not only is it more efficient, but according to my experience, students as well as teachers find it much more enjoyable than traditional methods.
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