On Monday this week, Cécile Lainé and Claire Walters came to our local TCI group meeting and demoed the Story Listening technique that Beniko Mason has developed. Having Cécile demo the story of Romeo and Juliet in German, which no one in our group speaks, really helped to put me in my students’ shoes and show how compelling this technique can be. I had to try it, and Romeo and Juliet just so happens to fit perfectly with the first pre-colombian legend in my Mitos y Leyendas de Latinoamérica unit: Iztaccíhuatl y Popocatépetl.
In the past, I have had students read and discuss the legend of the Toltec princess and Chichimeca prince who fell in love and married in secret, only to die tragically when their families found out. Only after reading the legend did we ever discuss the parallels it had to Romeo and Juliet.
With Story Listening, I flipped this process. I told the story of Romeo and Juliet first, highlighting key characters and phrases along with illustrations of the main action. My class was engaged with the story the whole time, and afterwards they used my pictures to re-tell the story in Spanish with a partner. (With younger students or a less familiar story, I would have the retell in English, but these were juniors and seniors in Spanish IV and they did beautifully.)
Only after putting in the work of telling the familiar story did I give them the legend to read. I think we’ll have a richer discussion of the text tomorrow!