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Roaring good yarn
By Zhao Xu (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-11 10:38

Roaring good yarn

Storyteller Roger Jenkins entertaining students at the Hong Kong Lee Shau Kee Middle School.

When he heard his class was expecting a storyteller, Ben Mak, a 14-year-old student at Hong Kong's Lee Shau Kee Middle School, thought he was going to meet someone with a long beard - the type who speaks in a heavy tone and sends children to sleep.

But within five minutes of Roger Jenkins' arrival, the boy felt himself being somehow lifted from his chair, as if attached to some unseen strings. Soon, he was on his toes, clapping and stomping like everyone else.

Together with Jenkins, they went on an imaginary bear hunt, during which they "went over the mountain, under the fence and through the river". The class was conducted entirely in English and was intended to be part of the school's English training program. But the pupils seemed to care less about the spelling of each word than the thrilling adventure leading to the animal's lair.

"Children should learn something other than the language, something they remember and value for life," says Jenkins, a Singapore-based teacher who often flies to Hong Kong to impress his wide-eyed listeners.

He once received a lesson himself when he least expected it. "I was invited to perform for a Hong Kong class and told a story about a butterfly struggling to come out of her cocoon," he says. "But the students were a bit unruly and the teacher looked all apologetic at the end of the day."

A girl of about 12 came up to him and said in a sweet and soft voice: "I like this workshop because you have just told me a story which shows how I can change my life."

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