Definitions and understandings of oral literature

The Role of Oral Literature in Reading Literacy, by Keziah Watatua, American Women"s Association of Kenya

What is oral literature?Oral literature is a performed art which in most cases uses spoken words as a medium ofcommunication. Performance plays a vital role in oral literature.Forms of oral literature include songs, oral narratives, oral poetry, riddles và tongue twisters. Myths are a key genre of oral literature. Theyare characterized by gods và supernatural beings and are sacred & true to a community. Myths are set at the beginning of time.They are comparatively shorter than any other narratives because they are not concerned withthe development of characters.

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In my African culture, educational information was mainly passed on through this medium.The type of family structure was extended & the child belonged lớn the community. Thismeant that the responsibility for proper upbringing và education of a child did not lie solely onan individual parent. Life skills such as nutrition và hygiene, iron processing for tools andweapons, & the knowledge of plants to treat various ailments was passed on mainly through oral literature.Taboos were taught through songs và myths so as lớn instill cultural values.It is perhaps because of this that introducing written literature lớn children in the African settinghas often posed a challenge.

It may be helpful for educators in Africa and other similar cultures around the globe lớn considera different approach when introducing reading literacy, as children from these kinds of culturalbackgrounds love hearing và telling stories và have traditionally learned best through these methods. After all, language experts recommover speech as the first stage of language development beforereading and writing.1Going back to culture, it would be very typical lớn have a grandmother sit by the fireplace withthe smaller children of the surrounding homesteads each evening & engage themwith stories và lesson songs until late in the night.On the other h&, the older boys would join their grandfathers in a typical nomadic lifestyle inthe open field to lớn graze cattle & herd sheep.The young men would go out for hunting & gathering while those with special skills such asmedicine & iron making would go through training as apprentices. During all these activitiesthe parties involved would engage in conversations using the elements of oral literatureexplained at the beginning of this article.In essence, oral literature was the main medium of passing information, & learning happened intuitively and continually through stages of life marked by age sets.

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Although not an over itself, in many cultures oral literacy remains a key means khổng lồ achieving the ultimate kết thúc, reading literacy for all.

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1Speaking Out for Language: Why Language Is Central to Reading Development:CLICK HEREfor full reference.


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