Learning New Languages Through Mini-Stories: A Multi-Language “Wiki” Project
Learning new languages is easier when we have meaningful content. Content we can listen to and read that is interesting and yet somewhat comprehensible, in other words not too difficult. The three part mini-story is an example of such content; a wonderful form of storytelling for language learners.
The TPRS Method
Over the past few weeks, I have been enjoying learning Greek using mini-stories. These stories are being originally created for us in English by a professional writer. The form of these stories is based on the storytelling technique that I discovered at Realpolish.com, but which many people have told me came from to the popular English language teacher, AJ Hoge.
I contacted AJ to find out more. He told me that Blaine Ray, who was one of the founders of the TPRS language learning methodology, was the first person to develop these three part mini-stories. I find the approach brilliant, enjoyable and effective. The stories introduce the basic patterns of a language and a lot of basic vocabulary.
Typically these stories depict people acting in a variety of everyday life situations. The same story is then told from a different perspective, person or tense for example, and finally there is a series of questions about the story. Vocabulary repeats naturally. We even have a chance to answer the questions, but no obligation to do so.
Language Learners Supporting Language Learners
There are 28 of these stories on LingQ at present in English (course one and course two) and Greek (course one and course two) all with text and audio. We hope to produce 100 of them, covering all major language patterns and concepts in a language. The stories themselves are interesting and witty vignettes from everyday life. I find myself looking forward to each new story.
The stories are quite culturally neutral and easily translated into other languages. We are encouraging members of our community at LingQ, and people subscribed to my YouTube channel, or for that matter readers of this blog, native speakers, to come forward and help us translate and record these stories into as many languages as possible.
These stories will be used at LingQ for our supported languages, and also to build up enough content so we can add new supported languages. We will make all these stories available free or charge for people who are not members of LingQ. If you would like to help us with this project pleasen contact Zoran from the LingQ team.
Mini-Stories are a Bridge to Intermediate Proficiency
My hope is that we can create a body of language learning material that relatively effortlessly takes people from the beginning level to a pretty solid intermediate level. If we have 100 stories, people can develop their language skills to a level where they can access authentic materials.
From my experience with Polish, I know that after a while I start using more difficult authentic content, but regularly go back to these stories to reinforce my grasp of basic patterns, and, in particular, to improve my speaking ability.
This is an exciting project and I thank those who are already helping us achieve the goal of 100 stories in as many languages as possible.