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Teaching English with Islamic Stories

Teaching English with Islamic Stories

Students from oral traditions often carry with them the strength of spoken language. On entry into language programs in the U.S., they use these skills to rapidly become conversational in English. North American standards, however, place reading and writing skills on a higher plane than oral skills. Students whose oral language proficiency is stronger than their literacy skills are often at a disadvantage in the American classroom.

As a result, narration is a great place to begin teaching English to students from oral traditions. Folk tales provide a universal narrative, and if a teacher can help students begin to learn English using the familiarity of oral language and telling stories, students will be at an advantage. As students become more comfortable with the language they will be better able to adjust to reading and writing.

The following lesson plans are linked to the stories in Ayat Jamilah: A Treasury of Islamic Wisdom for Children and Parents. The lesson plans demonstrate the use of folk tales to show how narration provides a basis of recognition and response. Using oral language and storytelling, the presenter will show how to later prompt students into reading and writing.

 

These plans are meant for students in higher education, particularly community college and university ESL and EFL programs.

 

 

About the Instructors:

Mary Brooks has lived and taught EFL and ESL in Zambia, South Korea, The People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the U.S. She was an instructor at the English Language Institute (ELI) and Eastern Washington University (EWU) from 1988 to 2007 and Director from 1995 to 2007. She was also an instructor in the ESL Certificate Program for Teachers. She developed online and graduate preparation coursework for the ELI and actively recruited international students for the ELI and EWU. In Japan she taught at Mukogawa Women’s University and launched a special program for accelerated students of English. At Lewis & Clark College, she was an instructor in the Academic English Studies program, specializing in graduate preparation coursework. On the national level, Mary has served as Vice President for Standards in the American Association of English Language Programs and Promotion Chair, Vice President, President, and past President of the University Consortium of Intensive English Programs.

 

Andrea Hoffman attended Western Washington University and Eastern Washington University, majoring in Reading and English Language Development. In 2010 she began teaching third grade at Garfield. She formed an after-school ELL homework club for students and continues to work with ESL and EFL youth.

 

About Ayat Jamilah, by Sarah Conover and Freda Crane

A Young Adult/Adult crossover anthology, it draws from not only the core of Islamic spirituality and ethics, the Qur'an, and the traditions (hadiths), but also from the mystical verse, folk tales, and exemplary figures of the Islamic narrative. Unlike any other collection of Islamic stories, Ayat Jamilah gathers traditional stories from the farthest reaches of the Muslim world, which stretches from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east, and from China in the north to Tanzania in the south. Winner of the 2004 Aesop Prize.


 

Lesson Plans for Novice Learner: (novice to intermediate low in conjunction with ACTFL Guidelines)

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Famous Donkey Story

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Tricky Case

What if? A Tale from Iran

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja, Affanti and the Donkey's Tail 

True Inheritance: A Tale from Iraq 

The Price of a Secret: A Tale from Azerbaijan 

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja Feeds His Coat  

Know Yourself: A Tale from the Middle East

The Hidden Teacher: A Story of Malik Dinar

 

Lesson Plans for College-Level Learner: (D.R.A. level 34-38)

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Famous Donkey Story

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Tricky Case

What if? A Tale from Iran

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja, Affanti and the Donkey's Tail 

True Inheritance: A Tale from Iraq 

The Price of a Secret: A Tale from Azerbaijan 

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja Feeds His Coat  

Know Yourself: A Tale from the Middle East

The Hidden Teacher: A Story of Malik Dinar

 

Audio Resources:

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Famous Donkey Story

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja and the Tricky Case

What if? A Tale from Iran

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja, Affanti and the Donkey's Tail 

True Inheritance: A Tale from Iraq 

The Price of a Secret: A Tale from Azerbaijan 

The Honorable Joha, Mulla Nasruddin Hodja Feeds His Coat  

Know Yourself: A Tale from the Middle East

The Hidden Teacher: A Story of Malik Dinar

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For more information contact skinnerhouse@uua.org.

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