Myths and Legends

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Teachers' Resources

Why are they valuable in teaching and learning?

It has been argued that these stories provide a safe place for young children to experience fear, hope and magic.

Myths, legends and folktales also provide a rich source of material for lessons. They can engage students in a variety of ways: from drama and creative writing to historical research.

They can be used as a resource for a large number of language activities and allow pupils to practise a range of communication skills.

The wide variety of myths, legends and folktales means that they can be used in all kinds of contexts, at all levels of language competence and with groups of different ages. There are a number of other factors that make them useful in teaching and learning:

They are usually structured chronologically, making them easy to follow and understand.

Many tales are predictable. Their predictability makes it easier to guess what is coming next and thus facilitates understanding, despite unknown vocabulary.

They often use clich├ęs and stereotypes. There are typical sets of characters that appear in many tales: a brave knight, a king, a witch, a chief or prince. An audience can immediately recognize the characters.

The vocabulary, particularly in myths and folktales, is often concrete, so it is easy to present through illustrations that may help students understand the story.

They reflect, in a simple way, the idea of good and evil. Many contain a moral, which can be used in assessing understanding of the literature. This makes such stories good for developing skills of inferring meaning from context.

They are part of our cultural history. The motivation of the characters helps us to understand the beliefs and values of those who wrote them. Similar stories may also appear in different cultures, reflecting traditional shared beliefs that can be discussed and compared.

They provide a good starting point for pupils to go on to develop their own stories and, hence, their creative and imaginative skills.

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