Storytelling at school –

Photo DiLenz
Foto by: DiLenz

Storytelling in welcome classes

Refugee children and young people who are new to Germany and do not yet speak German initially attend a welcome class in Berlin to learn the language and get to know everyday life in a German school. Storytellers from the association Erzählkunst bring stories to the welcome classes, because storytelling not only helps with language acquisition, but also connects and creates trust, and thus promotes integration in the long term.

“Through mutual exchange, dialogue and joint communication about what separates and connects, something new and third can emerge. This gives the concept of “interculturality” a sensual resonance space, which is about attention, respect and curiosity towards the stranger – the stranger on both sides!”

Prof. Kristin Wardetzky

The association Erzählkunst has been working with three Berlin schools for several years now. The storytelling projects, which were originally intended for the welcome classes, have been extended to the regular classes since fewer welcome children are coming to Germany. The proportion of children with a migration background is also high in the mainstream classes, and here, too, free storytelling promotes language skills and the integration of all children.

Foto by: DiLenz

“Storytelling connects” at the Rudolf Hildebrand School

“Once upon a time, when the tiger still smoked the pipe and I rocked my father in the cradle…” – that’s how the fairy tales begin, or in a completely different way, that storytellers from the Erzählkunst e.V. association tell to children in the welcome classes of the Rudolf Hildebrand School in Berlin’s Alt-Mariendorf district every week. Soogi Kang, Britta Wilmsmeier and Arna Vogel understand the art of telling fairy tales from all over the world in such a lively way that even children with little or no knowledge of German can follow them.

The project started in January 2016 and is now being used for two welcome classes and three regular classes. Once a year, there is a project week in which the welcome classes are mixed with the regular classes. At the end of the project week, the children perform together with their own freely told story.

BSDSS – Berlin is looking for the Super Storyteller – the storytellers have already thrilled the children at the Hildebrandt School twice with this competition. Each storytelling child, from the welcome classes and the regular classes, competes alone or in a group with a story against other storytelling children. A jury of storytellers, children and audience decides at the end who gets the trophy. The kids love the Super Storyteller competition and put their heart and soul into it.

The project “Storytelling connects” was originally launched with the help of private donors. Since 2017, the project has been supported by the Evangelisches Johannesstift and actively by Mr Nordgerling, the headmaster of the Rudolf Hildebrand School.


Brochure “ANKOMMEN. Storytelling in Welcome Classes”

The experiences from the storytelling project in the Rudolf Hildebrand School have been presented by the association Erzählkunst in the brochure ‘Ankommen’, which you can download here. The experiences from the storytelling project in the Rudolf Hildebrand School have been presented by the association Erzählkunst in the brochure ‘Ankommen’, which you can download here. The great demand for the brochure was the reason for author Kristin Wardetzky to publish the book ‘Ankommen. On the Desire of Narrative Mediation of Language and Culture’. This publication, published in 2019 by kopaed Verlag Munich, goes far beyond the experience report of the brochure. The book reflects on the narrative-theoretical and impact-aesthetic premises of the school narrative projects, and also contains a wealth of traditional stories told by refugee children and young people from their homeland.

Presse commentary on the book

Foto DiLenz

“Erzählen befügelt” at the primary school am Birkenhain

Since February 2017, a long-term storytelling project has been running in four welcome classes at the Birkenhain primary school in Berlin-Spandau, in which the children experience a different approach to the German language than in class. The storytellers Soogi Kang, Yifat Maor, Naemi Schmidt-Lauber, Sven Tjaben and Arna Vogel enchant the children with verses, songs, riddles and games and take them into the adventurous world of fairy tales. Gradually, the children become storytellers themselves, and so they learn the new language with relish.

The project “Erzählen beflügelt” is supported by the Evangelisches Johannesstift.

Rituals, music and body language: Wie der arme Jüngling den Khan bezwang und wie „Erzählen beflügelt“ die Kinder beschenkt

From the research report “Narrative Bridges” by Prof. Dr. Natascha Naujok:

“Scenic storytelling, as it is brought to life in the context of “Erzählen beflügelt”, enables both participation and the development of social skills; in the context of flight and being a stranger, scenic storytelling can make it easier to arrive and live in a new place and enable experiences of being connected. Shared storytelling experiences are community-building and presenting something themselves can also strengthen the individual child. In contexts like this, children can open up and accept new things. Language – including literality – is both a means of participation in social processes and a learning object.

The research report “Narrative Bridges – Scenic Storytelling for Newly Immigrated Children and the Supportive Potential of Literacy” (in German: “Erzählbrücken – Szenisches Erzählen für neu zugewanderte Kinder und das unterstützende Potenzial von Literalität”) by Prof. Dr. Natascha Naujok here in full text

Photo: Britta Wilmsmeier

Storytelling at the Albert Gutzmann Schule in Berlin Wedding

Storytellers Britta C. Wilmsmeier, Kathleen Rappolt and Dörte Hentschel bring stories to young people from all countries of the world who are new to Germany and attend a welcome class in Berlin. In 2016 and 2017, they told stories weekly at the Albert Gutzmann School for the young people aged 14 to 18 and gave space to the stories and fairy tales from their countries of origin. Stories act as diplomats here, encourage the desire to speak and allow amazing insights into the “foreign” culture.

This project was supported by private donors and the Walter Kahn Fairy Tale Foundation.

From the project report:

“Storytelling brings something new and irreplaceable to the students – not only for language acquisition, but especially for arriving in this new society and in a new culture. It also bonded them more because they helped, supported and encouraged each other.”

F. Philipp, teacher

“My students were able to use language more freely and creatively than in German lessons. I found the theatre exercises and tasks in the group particularly good because they strengthened the sense of togetherness of the class immensely. Everyone was picked up at their own level and was able to develop individually in the course of the project, so that in the end my pupils had the courage to tell their stories on stage in front of an audience.”

Doreen Brumme, teacher

“The pupils have experienced an overwhelming linguistic growth through the project. Through many different and exciting methods, they were introduced to fairy tales in a playful way through artistic storytelling. At the same time, the patient and personal attention of the storytellers promoted the students’ personal development and encouraged their concentration and desire to discover what is foreign and different, which will be of enormous advantage for their further school career. The detailed observation of the students’ learning progression shows that artistic storytelling in welcome classes is an invaluable opportunity to immerse oneself in a literary-creative world and to create images in the mind with the help of language.At first, the struggle for linguistic correctness was secondary. If you want to describe the image precisely and make your narrative more tangible, you will look for the right linguistic means for the sake of the story.I can’t imagine a more beautiful approach to language!”

Narges Roshan, scientific accompaniment of the project

Here you can read the full project report (in German only)