Multimodal analysis of storytelling sessions

During storytelling sessions in English L2 narrators use (reflectively or spontaneously) different semiotic channels to involve the children, motivate them to participate actively and help them co-create meaning. To analyze the features of the ‘multimodal orchestration’ during storytelling performances, we focus on ‘multimodal clusters’:

  1. the setting of the event: the physical (or digital) meeting space;
  2. the spatial/visual embodied story: gestures, facial expressions, movements in space, use of images and props;
  3. the oral/aural embodied story: language choices, voice quality and sound effects.

These three clusters influence the interaction between narrators and the audience.

Our research is based on the analysis of storytelling events in English L2 for children and focuses on key aspects of multimodal communication. We examine multimodal features of the storytelling discourse such as verbal aspects (storybook language and/or narrator’s language choices), voice quality (volume, speed of delivery, pitch, type of intonation), use of soundtrack (music, sound effects), gestures, gaze and use of space and props. Our aim is to identify multimodal patterns of communication and interaction during storytelling sessions.

Data are gathered during observations of storytelling sessions in English L2 for children (such as the events of the initiative Let's Tell a Tale)  and through the analysis of video recordings.

Field notes manually taken by educators during the storytelling events are completed by discussion of video analysis.

To promote collaborative reflection between narrators and educators, additional data are the questionnaires administered to the narrators after the experience in the library and the field notes of the educator/observer during the university workshop, and online exchanges with the narrators for the library events. 



Teachers and teacher educators: Education and professional development for early language learning

CETAPS - Nova University Lisbon 12-14 November 2020

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Research has widely demonstrated that storytelling is a powerful means to promote an early approach to a second/foreign language (Bertoldi and Bortoluzzi, 2019). The theoretical framework of reference of the present study includes the socio-semiotic perspective of interaction and communication. Storytelling sessions are analyzed as social practice considering the dynamic interaction of its components: the participants (narrators and children); the action (storytelling in English L2 as a multimodal practice) and the context in which storytelling events take place (Zhang, Djonov and Torr, 2015). Implications for pre-service and in-service teacher training include the reflection on multimodal resources, such as picture books (Mourão, 2015), and techniques and strategies for storytelling that can be adapted to different contexts and diverse audiences.

The presentation will discuss the results of involving student teachers as volunteer storytellers in the project Let’s Tell a Tale whichpromotes the use of storytelling in informal contexts in order to increase the exposure of very young learners and young learners to English as L2. It is the result of the collaboration between the University of Udine (Italy) and the municipal local libraries which host storytelling sessions in English L2 for children from 4 to 8 years oldconducted by student teachers of Primary Education.The presentation will discuss the data collected duringthe project through questionnaires, observation grids and analysis of video-recordings of interactions between children and student teachers during the storytelling sessions in the libraries.

The presentation will also show how the results of this study are used for student teacher and teacher training programs. Online communities, university workshops and open access online courses were organized to promote the use of narration as a fundamental means to help narrators promote children’s communicative skills in English L2.

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