Premium Transcripts
Part 3

Telling stories

This episode's vocabulary


  • Vivid (adj.) - vivid descriptions, memories, etc. produce very clear, powerful, and detailed images in the mind.
  • Temperament (noun) - the part of your character that affects your moods and the way you behave.
  • Act sth. out (phrasal verb) - to perform the actions and say the words of a situation or story.
  • Goody (noun) - someone, especially in a film or story, who is good.
  • Baddy (noun) - a bad person in a film, book, etc.
  • To resolve (verb) - to solve or end a problem or difficulty.
  • To extract (verb) - to remove or take out something.
  • Feature (noun) - a noticeable or important characteristic or part.
  • Complexities (plural noun) - the features of something that make it difficult to understand or find an answer to.
  • Intricacies (plural noun) - complicated details.
  • Overarching (adj.) - most important, because of including or affecting all other areas.
  • Comprehension (noun) - the ability to understand completely and be familiar with a situation, facts, etc.
  • In a nutshell (idiom) - very briefly, giving only the main points.
  • Interactively (adverb) - in a way that involves communication between people.
  • Enhanced (adj.) - better than before.

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Questions and Answers


M: Rory, are you all ready?

R: Yes.

M: Why do children like stories?

R: Well, they tend to have very vivid imaginations, don't they? So this means they enjoy imagining the words coming to life, I suppose. And they can see it clearly in their heads. It also helps them to think and, well, to think about things in new ways and introduce them to interesting topics for the first time. Plus, storytellers often do the voices of characters in interesting ways, which can be quite engaging.

M: What kinds of stories the children like?

R: I think that will depend on lots of different factors like age, temperament, likes and dislikes, won't it? For example, a primary school child will have wildly different tastes in stories to one in high school, well, at least you would hope so. Let's assume we're speaking about young children, though. They probably like things connected to their fantasies and the toys they play with, or the games and role plays they act out. Probably something with goodies and baddies and a happy ending.

M: What can a child learn from a story?

R: Oh, all kinds of things. The most obvious thing would be new words, in addition to how to tell a story and to further develop their tastes in fiction. I suppose there are also moral lessons you can learn from stories like why telling lies is bad? Or how to resolve conflicts without fighting. Outside from this though, the possibilities are endless.

M: And do you think that stories should always teach children something?

R: I don't, I don't think it's a choice. They probably do regardless. Like, they might teach them new words, or they might teach them a new moral, it will depend. But there's always something that you can extract from a story, even if it's something that you don't like.

M: Do young children like the same stories as older children?

R: Well, they probably like the same features and structure, but the complexities might go over their heads. So they might get the idea of a beginning, a middle and an end of a plot. But not the intricacies of the relationships involved, or how one character is different to another, even though they're on the same side. They just aren't capable of it yet. No, there's no reason they can't try and ask questions if they get confused about something like that.

M: So you think that young children may not be able to understand certain stories, right?

R: Probably not with the same ease as older children. They probably get the overarching points, though.

M: How do people tell stories to children?

R: Well, I already talked about the use of voice, so different tones for different characters. I imagine many adults act out the parts of the story with their hands to show the actions involved. Whenever I tell stories to young children, I always ask questions about what they heard, just to check their comprehension and understanding of different words as well. So I suppose in a nutshell, they do it interactively.

M: And when people tell stories to children, do they usually have a book or they just tell the story from memory?

R: I think it will depend on what kind of story it is. If it's a life story or describing a memory, then you could do that, well, you would have to do it from your head. But if it's a, if it's like a story with a moral or just to entertain a large group of children, then probably you would need a book for that.

M: How has technology changed storytelling?

R: Well, I'm not sure it's radically changed in terms of the basics. I mean, we still have words, pictures and sounds. But the variety of media is greater if we think about videos that can be watched online, translation has allowed stories to be shared across cultures and borders. And there's even color if we think of color printing as a kind of technology. So it's probably enhanced things rather than change them.

M: And do you think that today, most people enjoy reading stories or listening to stories?

R: Well, you keep hearing about this trend of people, hearing stories, but print media is far from dying out. So I'd probably say that print media is still the most popular way of consuming stories.

M: And how have the stories from the past changed?

R: Well, they're probably a lot more child-friendly and interactive. I imagine some of the older biblical stories have had their morals changed to fit the times as well. So those would be the big things I've noticed, but I'm not that much older than a lot of children. So, or indeed than a lot of people, so it's difficult for me to say off the top of my head.

M: Do you think that in the future storytelling will still be popular?

R: I don't think it'll ever not be popular. It's like it's part of the human experience. You can't really go through life without engaging with some sort of narrative or engaging in some sort of narrative even.

M: And you think that adults enjoy telling stories more than children?

R: Well, that's a good, that's a good question. Probably, adults enjoy telling stories on their level, more than children enjoy telling stories on their level, because adults are capable of creating more detail. And they have a better understanding of the shared context. But that's just a guess. I mean, children would still enjoy telling stories. It's all relative, I just think adults probably enjoy it more, because they're capable of more.

M: Thank you very much for your answers!

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Discussion


M: Right, so telling stories. So first of all, what do we mean by telling stories? What is a story? So to tell me a story, or I enjoy listening to stories. What do we mean by these stories?

R: A story? Well, we take like a really, really simple definition. It's a narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. And it's usually fictional or not real.

M: Yes. So for example, something like fairy tales, right. And also, if I take a book for children, and I kind of, I read, and I tell you a story at the same time, so this is also going to be like, okay, I tell you a story. Right? So it could be connected, like to a book, or it may not be connected, right?

R: Yeah. I mean, we're really simplifying here, because stories like, it's a very, it sounds simple, but it's a very complex concept, actually.

M: And then hear the examiner might ask you about, like children, and why children like stories. And you may want to think about, like fairy tales about children's books, right? So children enjoy reading, and listening to stories. So in this kind of context, and you said that children tend to have very vivid imaginations.

R: Yeah. So a vivid imagination is just your, well, it's like, you're able to see things very clearly in your mind. And there's like lots and lots of detail there.

M: Yeah. And that's why when you tell a story to a child, they kind of imagine different things. And that's why they enjoy listening to stories, or reading stories, because they see it clearly in their heads, right? So they see everything clearly in the heads, imagining what you tell them. And then you can say like storytellers. So a storyteller is a person who tells the story.

R: Yeah.

M: Storytellers often do the voices. Do the voices of who?

R: Oh, the voices of the characters. It's funny though, because it's always do the voices. You don't make the voices you do them.

M: So imagine, like, you pick up a book for children, and you start reading the story. And oh, Little Red Riding Hood. Like, oh, hello, grandma.

R: Exactly. You're doing the voice of grandma and Red Riding Hood.

M: Yeah. And we call these stories like children's stories.

R: Well, for the most part, yes. Although the original Red Riding Hood is quite an adult story, which means there's lots of violence and adult themes in it.

M: Oh, yeah, the wolf eats the grandma. Well, you know, yeah...

R: I think even in the original story, like the German version is pretty rough. And like, very violent.

M: Oh, really? Oh, wow,

R: I think so. I might be making that up. But like, you find that with these grim fairy tales, they're always quite dark, actually.

M: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. So here, you can talk about fairy tales, children's stories. Right? So maybe just in general, like when parents tell the story of their life to the children. Yeah. So then what kind of stories, right? So what kind of stories do children like? And Rory surely says, it depends on lots of things like age, likes, dislikes. And then you gave us an example. For example, a primary school child, right? So we have like primary school children and like older children, you said that a primary school child will have a wildly different tastes and stories. Wild.

R: Yeah. That just means they prefer different things. And the degree of preference is quite big or wide.

M: Yeah, so you can say like, different children may have wildly different tastes in stories. So to have a taste in stories, to have a taste in books.

R: Yeah, if we talk about stories here, like you have a taste in stories, in books and genres. But you could apply that expression to anything. A wildly different tastes in fashion, a wildly different tastes in, oh, interior design.

M: Yep. And you can say, children might enjoy stories connected with their fantasies, the toys they play with, games, role plays they act out. So we can act out a roleplay. And also, when I tell you a story, can I act out a story?

R: Yeah, you do the voices and you act out the story like the action.

M: So I do some actions like so if somebody is jumping, so I start jumping or running around.

R: Or you could show the jumping motion with your fingers, I suppose.

M: Yeah. So you do the voices and you act out a story. And then children usually enjoy goodies and baddies.

R: Yeah.

M: So there's always a goodie in the story and a baddie.

R: Yeah. But the goodies, you'd probably just hear like, good guys and bad guys, if you don't want to say goodies and buddies, because it sounds like, that's like childish language.

M: Childish, yeah, yeah, yeah.

R: But we also talk about the ending of the story, a happy ending, a sad ending, a melancholy ending. A grim dark ending.

M: Yeah, grim and dark. Yeah. And very often in British children's books, they have this ending that somebody dies.

R: What? Where?

M: No, I remember reading a story, like a children's story about a lady who kept eating everybody. And so like, oh, she ate, you know, a wolf. And then she ate this, she ate that. And then the final phrases, and she's dead, of course. Because she kind of she ate everybody.

R: Oh, is that there was no, there was no lady who swallowed a fly.

M: Yeah.

R: Why, oh, why did she swallow the fly? Perhaps she'll die.

M: Oh, my God, it's horrible.

R: Yeah, it is. Although it's a nursery rhyme. Although it does have a story, I suppose.

M: It's a nursery rhyme. You see, so kind of parents would read it out to small children like to how old? Like two year olds, three year olds? And then she's dead, of course. Oh, she swallowed a fly, she might die. Hey! Why, Rory, why, why do you have this in your culture?

R: Well, better they get introduced to the concept of death now.

M: So you do it to teach children the concept of death or just stop eating everything?

R: Maybe it's, yeah, it's probably more about maybe having some self control rather than about death. But, you know, children know what death is. Or they should know what death is. Like it's quite an important part of being alive.

M: Yeah. So I'm just wondering, dear listener, do you have this in your culture? This, you know, children's stories, which are, you know, a bit bizarre? Like about death?

R: Do you not discuss death with children in Russia?

M: I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't know. Well, parents do, but I don't know how it's done in school.

R: Well, you went to school, though. What did they talk about when you went to school? Did they talk about death?

M: I don't remember that.

R: Oh, okay. Like, I blocked it out. I'm traumatized.

M: I just deleted it completely. Right. So back to the stories. So a story might have moral lessons. So if a story teaches you something, so you can say there are also moral lessons, you can learn from stories. And then Rory gave examples. So moral lessons you can learn from stories, like why telling lies is bad, how to resolve conflict without fighting. Right? So moral. Can I say that a story should have morals, or just moral lessons?

R: No, morals or moral lessons is fine. I was just thinking though, we talked about resolve conflicts without fighting. But in stories, well, there's usually a conflict and it's resolved. So we talk about to resolve a conflict, but in the story, there's a resolution.

M: Yes, true. And also we talk about different features of the story. So children, older children might like certain features, and the structure of the story. So if we talk about features, what are they? Like story features. In a story? A beginning, a middle and an end of the plot, there are relationships between characters. More generally, every story is part of a genre, whether it's a fairy tale, or science fiction, or a religious story. There's the setting, which is where it happens. And the time I suppose.

R: Yeah, we call them different features. And the topic specific vocabulary here is the plot of the story and characters. So we call them characters. Like people who are in the story, or animals who are in the story, yeah? Little Red Riding Hood is, for example, my favorite character. Well, she's not, but just to give you an example. And then older children, oh, sorry, younger children may not understand the intricacies of a story, or like the intricacies of the relationships in a story, for example. So what are the intricacies? Nice one.

R: The intricacies are just the detailed connections. So, for example, a simple relationship would be like two characters are friends. And that's like the simple one. But the intricacy is like they're friends, but they're friends, because one always helps the other. Or it's not really a great friendship, because one needs the other one's money, for example. And so they're pretending to be friends, or it's not really a well balanced relationship. So that's like the intricacies, it's like the details.

M: Yeah, or maybe like complex details. Right? Okay. And so we talked about the use of voice, right. So how do people tell stories? The use of voice is important. So they do the voices, they act out stories. So they do the voices for different characters act out different parts of the story with their hands or they show the action. Yeah. And then Rory talked about himself. Whenever I tell stories to young children, I always ask questions, for example. So to make the story interactive, so more, like do it more interactively?

R: Yeah. And I used in a nutshell, again, I'm bringing it back.

M: Oh, you did, you did. So in a nutshell, they do it interactively, then technology and stories. So again, you can say that, okay, technology has made stories more interactive. We have words, pictures, sounds, and the variety of media. And the variety of media, you meant what exactly? So like, we can watch a story online?

R: Yeah, well, you could watch them online. Or you could just see them in the format of a video, for example, or even like, I even mentioned colored pictures. That's something that's relatively new. If you think about the history of telling stories.

M: Yeah. And we can say that technology enhanced storytelling. So we have a story, like tell a story, then a storyteller, a person who tells the story, and the action like storytelling, and actually, it's kind of maybe a hobby. So I'm into storytelling, right? So maybe you kind of learn a story, and then you tell your story on stage. For example, at school also, there could be storytelling clubs, when children tell stories to each other, maybe in English, or in their mother tongue. You see.

R: Did you have that at school?

M: I think I did. Yeah, I think also when I was a teacher at school, we had this storytelling clubs, and storytelling competitions even. Yeah...

R: Oh, wow, I've never seen anything like that here. But then maybe I haven't been paying attention.

M: Yeah, I think like in Russia we have storytelling competitions in some schools, education centers. Yeah. And also, a story could be a narrative, right? So stories these days are more child friendly, narratives. They're more interactive, right? And there are different ways to engage in a narrative. So if I engage in a narrative, what do I do?

R: Well, you just tell a story, basically. It's funny though, because you can, if you change the preposition, then you change the meaning. So if you engage in a narrative, it means you're telling the story, but if you engage with the narrative, you're either following the story or you're analyzing it.

M: Yeah, true, true.

R: Shall we wrap it up there?

M: Rory, say goodbye to the world!

R: Bye, world!

M: Bye!

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