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Book Review

Once Upon a Time cover

Once Upon a Time
- Using stories in the
by Morgan & Rinvolucri

(Cambridge Handbooks for
Language Teachers CUP)

Review by Alistair Dickinson

As with the previous review 'Dictation', this book, 'Once Upon A Time' has been around for a while & continues to be a source of inspiration for both new & experienced teachers alike. It teaches how to use stories in the language classroom, storytelling being an incredibly useful & natural tool.

The book begins with an oveview & then goes on to provide a host of imaginative ideas over the following eight chapters; Stories & follow ups, Retelling, Before I begin, Co-operative telling, Students' stories, From the past, Vanishing stories & Revision. At the end there is a Story Pool with a twenty story skeletons to use.

The format for each activity is as clear as the other books in the series; the skeleton story, before class, in class, after class, preparation & if needed, a rationale. The stories are used not only for listening skills development but in all aspects of language development, both the four skills & language development.

It it stressed throughout that stories should be told from the memorisation of skeletons in order to make it as natural as possible, & as such the stories in the book are only presented as just that, skeletons. Clearly we will have to change how we tell a story depending on the level of student we are working with, this involves grading the language we use to express the story & varying the speed of delivery. The rest can be as you tell a story to your friends. This makes 'live listening' a very valuable means of developing listening skills ability.

The stories used range from the traditional children's fables to stories found in newspaper articles through to Eastern fables, making a lovely collection to use with all levels, beginners to advanced.

'Once Upon A Time' is an excellent resource book, providing an essential part of the language teacher's array of techniques. Buy it if haven't already.

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