Role of folk tales in teaching English as a language in lower primary school

Himalinee Bezbaruah Lecturer, DIET Kamrup
Hemalini Bezbarua

English is considered as a global language in India, a multilingual country. The power of expression in a language is a matter of skill rather than of knowledge. It is a power that grows by exercise, not by knowing merely meanings, or rules (A.L.Kohli, 2001). Language is the basic medium of instruction without which human social life could not have emerged (Vallabi, 2011). For the acquisition of language the four basic skills i.e listening, speaking, reading and writing are necessary to learn. All these skills need to be used together. Language teaching is the process through which the learners gain communicative competencies in a language. The teacher facilitates the learners in learning to practice the language. NCF 2005 asserted that language education is not confined to the language classroom. A science, social science or mathematics class is ipso facto a language class. The language class offers some unique opportunities through stories, poems, songs and drama linking children to their cultural heritage and give them opportunity to understand their experiences.

The elementary education is the foundation stage of educational system. It facilitates the learners to develop not only the basic language skills but also the social skills to survive in the society. One of the ways to teach a language is through a folk tale that reflects our society. Folk tales are the part of folk literature. In teaching of English language through folk literature especially the folk tales in the elementary level has been very much effective in the language class which can motivate the learners to learn the language. Folk literature is the term that means to verbal, spiritual, imaginary and material aspects of any culture. It transmits orally. The folk literature is very popular among the people all over the world. In the North East India, the folk literature plays pivotal role among the people, especially in teaching learning process.

Folk tales are very interesting and easily understandable. A child likes to listen different stories. The teaching of English language using folk tale is an established approach. It is very important for a teacher to know the way of teaching English language through the folk tales in the classroom. The lower primary students need to be motivated to learn a language. Folk tales are very much entertaining, interesting and understandable which can increase the interest of the learners to learn a language. Teachers of English in the elementary schools should be very much conscious about the teaching of English in the classroom. This stage is very crucial where they are scaffold.

In English language class, the folk tales are useful for the beginners. A Language class focus on the listening and speaking skills in the beginning stage. Acquiring good listening and speaking skills has always been a challenge among the learners in the language classroom. Folk stories are very entertaining which can attract to the young learners. It contains the foundational truths by which people have lived for centuries. It makes one culturally literate. It tries to meet the variety of needs of the people, the needs to explain the mysteries of the world, the need to express our fear and dreams, the need to entertain others, ourselves and each other. Literature which rooted in culture and tradition contains the religious, mythic elements that reflect in our day to day life. Story telling is largely featured in both entertainment and communication skill. Abrahamson (1998) believes that story telling is the base on which education stands for. It is being used as a teaching tool so that it can create an immediate learning atmosphere in the classroom.

The most important characteristic of folk tale is its morality. Folk tales are oral. Some stories are didactic. It tries to convey the information to the people which reflects the morality. Happiness, sadness, kindness, love, smile, cry, emotions, feelings, relationship, friendship, cooperation, hard labour, good and evil, right and wrong, loyalty etc. are reflected in folk stories. It links our day to day life. It tries to meet variety of human needs which brings to immediate impulse. Folk literatures are always ends positively. The folk stories are easily understandable and very entertaining. Though the stories are imaginary yet it links our realistic life. It creates interest among the learners. Many aspects of social life reflect in it. Now, many manuscripts and books of folk stories are available in market. People have a common interest to the stories associated with their belief system inclined with occupation, geographical location, customs, language, age and ethnicity etc. The traditional materials are passed through generation to generation and the materials as well as features are shaped by the memory of the people. Folk tales are filled with formulaic expressions. Most of the time it starts with 'once upon a time', 'lived happily', which are significant features of oral literature.

Therefore, Folk tales plays a significant role in teaching a language. Children like to listen to stories. Stories are said orally in order to entertain the children and to develop their listening and speaking skill. It is often taken on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told. It speaks the universal themes and tries to make sense of their existence in the world. In the folk tales good, evil, right, wrong, happiness, love, unity etc all the elements are there. The role of folk tales in the teaching learning process is to transfer knowledge and personality development. It can influence the life of the people. In human life many factors like attitude, behaviour, perception, fear, fun, beliefs, reflects in the society. Thus, it helps the people to learn the local lifestyles which carry the culture and heritage. It is the story of day to day life and the issues of humanity. Sometimes the stories have the supernatural elements, like the ghost story, which the children like. Other kinds of folk tales are based on animals where the animals behave like humans with real emotions and it makes the stories enduring and appealing. The children relate them by listening to the story and can imagine the situation. The stories have moral and someone can learn many things from the moral. Some folk tales like Panchatantra, Eshops fables, 'Goldylocks', Burhi Aaair Xadhu (Grandma's tale of Assam) and Three bears which are very interesting tales. It has been found that the characters of folk tales are usually flat and not complicated. The hero is usually brave, young, fair, kind, charitable, honourable, and unselfish having the special power. People can get many things from the quality of the hero. The plots are full of action and follow a basic plotline of events and the struggles are usually determined with the deeds or acts of human kind. So, in teaching the English language it helps the learners to learn joyfully, though the descriptions are quick it creates an image upon the people and increases the imagination of the learners. It can guide and gives the moral lessons to the learners the behaviours, the human values, customs, beliefs, traditions cultures which are passed across the generations orally. Folk tales helps the teacher to design activities in the classroom to involve the learners to create a stress free environment for learning a language. It helps the teacher to create the joyful learning situation. Most of the educationists and psychologists are also emphasised the important role of folk stories in the child development. The children can visualize the world around listening to the stories. They can learn which behaviour is accepted and which is expected for the people. Children develop their motivations, interests and understandings and learn how to appreciate good and positive values of life.

In Lower primary level of education in order to develop the oral skills some techniques and strategies should be applied to motivate the young learners. Telling folk tales is one of the best strategies to increase the interest of the learners to learn a second language. As English is introduced from class I, to make the English class entertaining the teacher should tell the tales for their cognitive, emotional and language growth of young learners. That is why, the effectiveness of teaching English as a language using the folk tales is valuable and linguistic resource for the young learners (Hong Nhung, 2016). That's why, it may be said that there is an integral importance of folk tales in teaching English as a language in English teaching classroom.


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4. NCF 2005
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