Thursday, 3 February 2011

Aesop's Fables for EFL

A perennial favourite across the centuries, Aesop's Fables continue to delight readers today with their short and insightful stories featuring interactions between animals and the occasional human. Thanks to Librivox and Project Gutenberg they can be used for EFL too.

Welcome message (1:21)

Alice and Martin Provensen
The Fox, the Lion and the Footprints 
Alice and Martin Provensen - Illustration from "Aesop's Fables", Golden Press 1965.
John McNab on Flickr

1. Find a fable as an audio recording on Librivox
To find an audio recording search Librivox, putting 'Aesop's Fables' as the search term in the 'Title' box. Clicking through on the returned item 'Aesop's Fables' will bring you to a list of 12 volumes of Aesop's fables. Click into one of these, e.g. Aesop. "Aesop's Fables, Volume 02 (Fables 26-50)" and then scroll down until you find a likely title e.g. The Fisherman and The Sprat (which is right near the bottom of the list). Download one of the audio recordings by clicking onto the link, personally I've found the mp3@64kbps - 0.5MB] to be fine. If necessary, save the sound file to your computer.

2. Find chosen fable as text on Project Gutenberg
Scroll back up the page from The Fisherman and the Sprat until you can see the link to Gutenberg e-text. Clicking this link takes you to Aesop's Fables; a new translation by Aesop on Project Gutenberg. Now select the HTML (292kB) format of this e-text.

Tip - Since there is a lot of text to search through on the web-page you've just found, here's a useful tip. Use Cmd-F (Mac) or Ctrl-F (Windows) to open up a search box (it'll appear either at the top or the bottom of your browser window). Type in Fisherman and see how the appropriate part of the web-page is highlighted in your browser. Keep clicking on Next until you are taken to the actual story of The Fisherman and the Sprat.

The Fisherman and the Sprat
So now you have the audio and text of Aesop's tale about a sprat caught by a fisherman. Great! You have in your e-hands source material for all sorts of listening and reading tasks. Also, a closer look at the text shows a variety of complex sentences being used, as well as opportunities of exploiting direct speech.

Now do this!
Give it a go. Skim through the 12 volumes of Aesop's Fables on Librivox. Make a shortlist of 5 titles that take your fancy. Treat yourself to some quiet time listening to your selection. Then, choose one and hammer out a lesson from it. To wrap it all up, post a comment here to share how your teaching session went

More ideas
1. Text before audio
Try doing it the other way around if that's more useful: search through Project Gutenberg's HTML e-text of Aesop's Fables (292kB) and choose a tale that takes your fancy or meets your students' needs. Then go find the audio on Librivox.

2. Accents
Many of the readers on Librivox are American. If this causes difficulty for your learners, then try listening to a range of readers and finding your favourite voices. Go back to the Librivox web-page that has the 12 volumes of Aesop's fables. You'll notice at the end of each link to a volume, e.g. for Volume 2, that there is another link called readers. When clicked it will throw up a list of the people who actually made the recordings for that volume. Clicking onto one of the names, e.g. Gesine - as she is the person who read The Fisherman and the Sprat - will take you to a linked index of all texts that she has recorded on Librivox.

3.  Empower your learners
Introduce your learners to Librivox and Project Gutenberg by running an Aesop's Fables session like the one described above. Then prepare another session where your learners are encouraged to take the reins and find their own material in these two websites.

4. Create own recordings
Have your learners make their own podcasts! Have them upload their recordings of Aesop's Fables to your class blog. If you want to know more about how to do all this, then check out the podcastingEVO2011 yahoo group and the Podcasting for the EFL-ESL Classroom Weekly Activities blog - all the details are there.

Go go go!

1 comment:

Jose Rodriguez said...

Hi Chris,

I love Aesop's fables. Wishing you the best of luck in your podcasting adventures.