Volume 15 (2010) Pages 27-40
Narrative is considered a central part of how human beings construct the world and, therefore, to how we communicate. Being able to tell a story is no less a need and goal of second language learners. However, telling a story is a complex task. To make the narrative comprehensible, the narrator must attend not only to language, but also to content selection and organization while considering the knowledge-state of the audience. This paper proposes vicarious narrative as a method for the development of the skill in second and foreign language learners of English. In vicarious narrative, the learners do not tell their own stories, but rather narrate the story of a movie character as if they were that character. First, the paper examines research on child L1 narratives for the categorization systems it offers to rate narrative comprehensibility. Next, narratives produced by adult learners of English are considered according to the categorizations used for the child L1 narratives in order to identify to what extent the problems are similar, even as the reasons for the problems differ. Finally, the method of vicarious narrative is explained and the advantages considered.