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Language and literacy development

Along their role in the development of personhood, narratives have benefits for language and literacy development. Studies support that exposure to stories is a significant source of incidental vocabulary learning (Elley, 1989), it promotes the development of the language style used in stories (Rosen, 1988), as well as children's background knowledge of a variety of topics (Purcell-Gates, 1988, 1989 cited by Bialystok, 2001, p. 158). Similarly to L1 development, in foreign language education stories create socially and linguistically meaningful contexts for learning. While this is an important factor for learners of all ages, it is crucial in the case of children, as they make sense of language by making sense of the situation (Donaldson, 1987). Most children are familiar from their mother tongue with the story telling/reading frame and with the kind of discourse stories involve, and when listening to a story told in English they can build on knowledge and skills acquired during story telling sessions in their mother tongue. Also, story sessions create an environment in which learners feel secure and, as the affective filter is low (Krashen, 1985), learning occurs in a natural way. Finally, through stories the target language words and structures are not presented in an isolated way, but embedded in a relevant context.