UI Community Service: Develop a Storytelling Program with Diversity Values

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The community service team from the Faculty of Humanities Universitas Indonesia (FIB UI) led by Sisilia Setiawati Halimi, Ph.D. from the Linguistics Department developed a storytelling module with diversity values as a companion material for teaching English to elementary school students in Depok, West Java, Indonesia. The activities were conducted from June to September 2018 in the selected primary schools in Depok, West Java.

In the present, with the influence of digital information, children are easily acquiring various information. Digital media is often a child’s choice in supporting learning. On the other hand, the issue of tolerance caused by cultural, political and socioeconomic conditions in the community does not subside and can be further triggered by activities on social media and other digital contents. If elementary school students are constantly exposed to intercultural hate conflicts, intolerance can unconsciously grow in them and if they are not prevented early, they can become future perpetrators of violence or disseminators of hatred triggered by social issues.

Realizing that digital content is not always child-friendly, the idea arises to provide reading with safe content for elementary school students. The story is considered as the most appropriate media to answer this problem because it has interesting content so that it can motivate and challenge students to increase positive attitudes towards language, culture, foreign languages, and the tendency to repeat vocabulary so that it can become a means of improving children’s foreign language skills (Ellis & Brewster, 2004, p. 6). It can also contain virtue implicitly, for example, tolerance (Demircioglu, 2008). Meanwhile, diversity values ​​are considered appropriate to be taught so elementary school students can develop social empathy and intercultural tolerance themselves. Learning English itself, even though it has begun to be taught early in the present, remains a ‘scourge’ for students. Moreover, not all elementary school students have great access to reading with good content, for example because of the lack of a complete school library collection or absence of reading habits at home.

Therefore, the FIB UI community service team developed a non-digital storytelling module as a companion for students’ English learning that was able to hone the creativity of students, while fostering the value of diversity through the story. Through the storytelling module, students will be given not only reading that is full of values but also follow-up activities that hone creativity so that reading and telling stories become a culture at school and at home, and this is expected to indirectly prevent children from being addicted to communication technology and from exposure towards inappropriate content.

The module developed was titled “Tell Us a Story: A Collection of Stories with Moral Lessons on Unity, Equality, and Harmony for Elementary Students”, which had 8 short stories containing values ​​of diversity. Stories are written in English as the target language with vocabulary adapted to the abilities of 4th and 5th grade students of elementary school as the target participants. The eight stories are titled “Pippa’s goal”, “The Camel and the Dove”, “Preparing for the Garden Festival”, “The Crying Bunny”, “Panji’s Birthday”, “Lim and the Prince”, “Little Owl’s First Day of School “, And” To Think of Others “was written by Annisaa Paradisa, M. Hum., Anselma Widha Prihandita, S. Hum., Chysanti Arumsari, MA, Lavinia Disa Winona Araminta, MA, and Sisilia Setiawati Halimi, Ph.D. which deals with issues of gender, race, economy and religion differences through human and animal characters.

“Beside the story, this module contains examples of advanced activities from storytelling, such as the exploration of intrinsic components in the story, such as character characteristics, motives, and moral messages, as well as guidelines and teaching instructions for teachers, such as vocabulary that can be taught in the beginning of the storytelling session, “said Sisilia Setiawati Halimi, Ph.D. as the head of this team. “As a complement to storytelling activities and to make it easier for students to understand the storyline, each story in this module is also equipped with visual properties such as puppet characters, flip books, flash cards, and background images of the situation. Module development was carried out during July 2018, followed by the management of ISBN, IPR, and printing of the module. ”

The participants of the community service activities were students in grades 4 and 5 and English teachers at two schools in Depok, West Java, Indonesia. Before the module was submitted to the teachers, the team conducted module socialization to students and teachers as well as module management trials in the two elementary schools. During the trial conducted at the 4th week of August 2018 by the service team, English teachers in each class can observe how the module can be used to support learning English. Outside of the learning and teaching session at the 2nd and 3rd week of September 2018, the team then provided short training and mentoring for English teachers in each elementary school. One month after the module management trial, the service team came back to the intended school to review the use of the module in the classroom and conduct interviews with the teacher about the experience of using the module and input for the development of the next module. On the 4th week the team went to the schools to listen to the reading of the story from the teachers of the two schools.

Both teachers and students in both schools welcomed enthusiastically the initiative of the service team. Teachers feel that the stories written contain good moral messages and can attract children’s interest in stories. During testing activities by teams and teachers, students were observed to be enthusiastic in participating in activities before, during, and after reading the story. Students were happy with the pictures and props used and were also very enthusiastic about the movements, exclamations, and songs sung together as part of storytelling. Although still assisted with the use of Indonesian when delivering in front of students, this module is expected to be a useful and sufficiently varied supplementary material for teachers and students to improve their knowledge and English language skills. In addition, diversity issues raised with pleasant simple language are expected to encourage students to foster friendship, love and respect towards others. This could also encourage them to help each other in their daily lives and not discriminate friends based on social, economic, racial or gender status.