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Story-builder: A language tool for documentation and teaching

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Title: Story-builder: A language tool for documentation and teaching
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2013
Description: This paper will introduce Story-builder, a set of picture cards designed to facilitate creative storytelling in any language. The Story-builder card set consists of ‘action cards’ depicting events and ‘character cards’ depicting people; these cards can be placed in various spatial configurations to create narratable visual stories. By drawing on people’s natural proclivity to make up stories, the tool engages consultants and language-learners alike to produce speech that is natural and fluid. This paper will look at ways of adapting the cards to be relevant for both language documenters and teachers, who alike must find ways of motivating speakers to produce natural, connected, and varied speech.

An important concern for language documentation is how to a obtain a representative set of language data that includes a wide variety of vocabulary and sentence-types. Story-builder is a useful tool for eliciting some of this variety, as its ‘action cards’ have been designed to depict verbal events from across the semantic spectrum. This semantic variety combined with the inherent flexibility of the method ensures that speakers using the cards produce language data that is varied in both structure and vocabulary. As a picture-based elicitation method, the Story-builder card set is also useful for obtaining speech without the use of translation: data can be elicited in the target language directly, in an oral style the speaker is comfortable with. Depending on the goals of the documenter and speaker(s), the cards may be adapted as language games, cues for conversation and narration, or visual contexts for focused elicitation.

Materials which facilitate conversation are also highly relevant for communities wishing to revive their languages, where materials for developing language skills, especially at an intermediate or advanced level, are often lacking. Because classroom conditions and access to technology vary greatly amongst small language communities, as do the goals of language teachers, Story-builder has been designed to be adaptable for a wide range of uses, levels, groups and material circumstances. Its potential classroom uses range from basic vocabulary- building to advanced story-telling, individually or in groups. Story-builder is currently being incorporated into classroom activities in several Pacific NW language programs and schools and is freely distributed under a Creative Commons license. For more information, or to download the cards, visit:
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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