The wonderful thing about stories

The wonderful thing about stories is that no matter what language they are delivered in, people everwhere enjoy them. There is something about the rythm, the intonation, the facial expressions, the gestures that crosses all language barriers and allows people everywhere to enjoy a good story.

I was reminded of this at the weekend when we visited our English friends who have lived in France since their two girls were in Primary School. On a previous visit, many years ago, the languages teacher at their school in Reims invited me to come in and talk to her class. She has a copy of my anthology, A Glassful of Giggles, and had been reading some of the stories to the students. Of course I was delighted. Back then my French was at about the same level as the students but the teacher had asked me to read in English and I was keen to promote my book. I arrived at the school a bit early, borrowed a few props from the Staff Room and got the whole class involved in dramatising ‘Something in the Cupboard’. I don’t know what they thought of my basic French, but we all had a great time dressing up and acting out the story. The use of everyday items like pots and pans, lids and wooden spoons, along with the repetition of made-up words to represent the sounds, made the plot and its resolution perfectly clear to the class full of French children, and our friends’ two daughters were absolutely thrilled to have the advantage, for once, of understanding every word.

Those two girls are now in university, but they have not forgotten that long-ago story. And they now speak perfect French.

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