BookBox’s stories with same language subtitles help children acquire language by arousing their sensory perceptions through audio-visual methods. In this way, multiple parts of their brains get developed and help them grasp the overall meaning of a story. I have used BookBox stories in several government-run and tribal schools across various states of India and did find the experience enriching.
In one of the sessions, there were 40 students from classes 1-5. We were told the children were eagerly waiting for us to come and ‘do some magic.’ Well, the magic here was Bookbox! The children watched the animated stories with a lot of interest. Once the stories were shown, I asked some of the children to read the sentences aloud in the subtitles and explain it in their language. Later, I cut out the sound and students narrated the story by looking at the pictures. My overall impression of this exercise was that the children were enthusiastic and made an effort to understand the stories by watching them with rapt attention.
Here are some of the questions I asked for the story “Gajapati Kulapati” when I realized that students were too shy to talk. This exercise was a ploy to start them off!
- Who was Gajapati?
Students’ answers: An elephant.
- Why did the elephant catch a cold?
Students’ answers: Because he got drenched in the rain.
- What is the nose of an elephant called? Children did not know, so the facilitator told that it is a trunk.
- What is the sound ‘achooooo’ called in English? Children did not know the answer, so the moderator said ‘sneeze’.
The children then became quite confident and began asking questions to their friends:
- Student 1: Who brought up the elephant?
Friends’ answers: Everyone (banana seller, postman, etc…) brought up the elephant.
I showed children real objects like bananas, jasmine flowers and old postal envelopes for making comprehension easier. Some students came up with enthusiastic responses by saying,
“Ma’am, my mother’s a flower seller” or “my neighbour’s father sells vegetables in the market,” and even “I want to go to a forest to see an elephant!”
Bookbox stories brought out enthusiastic responses from children, and many participated spontaneously in spoken activities like answering questions, expressing or sharing their thoughts and even communicating with the others in the class.
This made me realize how important stories are for the development of language skills like listening, reading and speaking and also in the growth of self-confidence! One word of caution, though: teachers need to use audio-visual stories thoughtfully as not to blot out the imagination of children! It is good to narrate part of a story or do activities around it to encourage children to imagine and then use audio-visual stories to enhance their ‘story experience’!
Nabanita Deshmukh is a writer of children’s stories and rhymes. She conducts workshops for teachers and students on storytelling and other interactive modes of teaching. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.