Thesis

Fairy tales for Language teaching

This project advocates for the use of fairytales as an authentic source of effective material for language instruction. The argument is based on a view of knowledge as distributed and learning as social and process oriented and includes discussion of the role of stories and prior knowledge in comprehension. Included in this view of learning is the role of community and participation in all learning and especially for language learning. The project discusses ESL Sociocultural Learning Theory and the importance of authentic materials to language instruction. As part of the discussion of the role of authentic materials, the project looks specifically at literature as an authentic cultural product before presenting information about fairy tales as a genre and cultural product. Fairytales, as the offloaded cultural knowledge created by the community, both smaller and larger, are a rich source of such material. The existing scholarship on the use of fairy tales in foreign and second language classes is reviewed, including the general conclusions that fairy tales are excellent sources of instructional material. The significant findings of such scholarship claim fairy tales support learning as motivating material that lowers learners’ affective filters while including important linguistic structures. Alongside this, as cultural products fairy tales also teach about the target language culture and can be used to develop intercultural communication skills. The format and variety of fairy tales produced also make them appropriate for diverse instruction. Included in the project is an experimental syllabus using fairy tale materials used for an academic writing university course. Examples of student work and a survey taken by students upon completion of the course are included in the appendices of the project. Using the discussed theories and pedagogy, this project presents curriculum for ESL/EFL courses intended to prepare learners to attend an English speaking university. The curriculum describes the significant assignments and practices using fairytale materials for two courses. The first course, for intermediate learners, focuses on building proficiency and confidence in the target language. The second course focuses on developing academic language to prepare learners to enter an academic community.

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