Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Alpha Publishing brings “The Power of Stories” to TESOL Arabia with Cheryl Palin

March 22nd 2017, Dubai – Leading MENA education and learning publisher Alpha Publishing partnered with renowned English Language Teaching (ELT) author, Cheryl Palin at this year’s TESOL Arabia to deliver a full house workshop on “The Power of Stories”. Cheryl, who traveled from the UK to join Alpha Publishing specifically for TESOL Arabia, presented her material on day two of the three-day conference which took place from March 9th – 11th at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, DIFC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“The Power of Stories” focused on storytelling as a powerful means of learning and information transfer, with practical advice on how storytelling strategies can be applied in today’s ELT classrooms. One of the key messages of the workshop was how storytelling is a strong vehicle for presenting language in its natural form and correct context. The presentation further explored the many different opportunities for children to learn through storytelling and  the strong social aspect, which fosters a positive attitude to learning English.
Speaking about her presentation, Cheryl said “I feel very passionate about stories because they provide so many opportunities in the classroom for learning. Stories are obviously an excellent vehicle for language learning. They enable us to present and practise natural language in a meaningful context. However, they have so much more to offer in terms of meeting children’s wider educational needs. Through stories, children can reflect on values and develop emotional intelligence. Traditional stories, in particular, teach children about the target culture and can serve as a springboard for further cross-curricular learning. And story-based activities are also a great way to help children develop the 21stcentury learning skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.”
Cheryl has more than 25 years of experience in the field of English Language Teaching and is the author of various well-known Primary titles, including an innovative blended learning ELT publication for the Spanish market, published under her pen name, Suzanne Torres. Given her rich experience in the field, conference attendees were keen to seek her advice on how best to use stories in a classroom situation.
“Where possible I would advise teachers to tell stories, rather than simply reading them aloud,” Cheryl commented. “If a teacher knows a story well enough not to need to read the text, eye contact can be maintained with the students, making the experience more engaging and social. Young children need lots of clues to help them understand a story in English. We can use visual aids, such as story cards, of course. But it’s also important to use our hands, our voice and our body language to tell the story. It’s a good idea to practise telling a story for small children beforehand, so that you can think about using expression to convey meaning, using different voices to differentiate characters, and also where to pause for dramatic effect, to make the story exciting and maintain the children’s interest.  We need to make our story telling as enjoyable as possible, because if children are motivated by stories in English, they will develop a positive attitude towards books and literacy, as well as towards their English classes in general.”
Alpha Publishing’s “Pandy and Friends” – an ELT publication targeted towards Pre-Primary students - builds on storytelling in its approach to promoting effective learning by encouraging teachers to “act out” the story rather than simply telling the story to their students. Alpha Publishing ELT Editor Sam Grey commented, “Storytelling is crucial for children of this age, and stories are a really big part of Pandy and Friends. Students follow the adventures of Pandy and his friends throughout the levels and get to know the characters. We provide teachers with lots of resources such as story cards, stickers, and the Pandy puppet so that they can tell the stories in an engaging way and bring Pandy to life. Along with stories, children love songs and singing - Pandy and Friends comes with songs in every unit and each song has actions for the children to act out thus promoting learning through total physical response.”
Alpha Publishing Managing Director Eyad Darawsheh commented, “We were delighted to have Cheryl attend and partner with Alpha Publishing at TESOL Arabia 2017. As the principal ELT conference for teachers and educators in the Middle East, TESOL Arabia is the ideal platform for a truly world-class expert such as Cheryl to share her expansive knowledge on the teaching and application of effective strategies.
In addition to Pandy and Friends, Alpha Publishing’s range of ELT publications being promoted at TESOL included primary school–focused publications Super English and Go For English, plus middle school title English Leader and Target English, which is orientated towards the upper / adult age group. All Alpha Publishing titles are produced within the MENA region and the content is presented with a strong emphasis on local and cultural sensitivity.
Darawsheh added, “Alpha Publishing’s approach to helping teachers and educators is very similar to that of Cheryl’s. We are both passionate about maximizing the effectiveness of ELT in today’s classroom. We share the vision of producing top-quality materials with exceptional content based on world-class standards. Alpha Publishing places great importance on the skill of information transfer – be it via the medium of storytelling or by cultural attention-to-detail within our publications. It is vital for students that they are presented with information in a way which gives them the best opportunity to learn and understand. Alpha Publishing’s philosophy of producing materials ‘in the region, for the region’ gives our local teachers an exceptional advantage in achieving positive student outcomes.”