Telling Our Stories: Cultural Influences on Narratives

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Much of education is dependent on comprehending and producing narratives. Narratives around the world differ in terms of functions, structure, content, and styles of telling the stories. If students are to be successful in mainstream schools, they must be able to comprehend and produce narratives with the functions, structures, content mainstream, and style of Western culture. Therefore, it is critical that educators and speech-language pathologists explicitly teach students to comprehend and produce Western-styles stories. However, educators and speech-language pathologists must be alert to how cultural differences may influence students’ comprehension and production of narratives. This requires careful observation and exploration. One should not assume that students from a particular language or cultural groups will demonstrate patterns mentioned in this chapter because there is considerable diversity within cultures. While teaching mainstream narratives, they need to be cautious so they do not denigrate the narratives of the students’ home cultures. Self-identity is developed through exposure to and production of narratives. Therefore, it is also critical that students from diverse cultures have opportunities to see themselves in stories.


This professional development webinar was presented by Dr. Carol Westby for speech-language pathologists in Virginia. It was funded by the Virginia Department of Education and hosted by Dr. Kimberly Murphy, Old Dominion University.

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