Original Research

Storytelling: An alternative home delivery of English vocabulary for preschoolers during COVID-19’s lockdown in southern Thailand

Attawat Khamsuk, Wararat Whanchit
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 11, No 1 | a897 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v11i1.897 | © 2021 Attawat Khamsuk, Wararat Whanchit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2020 | Published: 17 February 2021

About the author(s)

Attawat Khamsuk, Department of English, School of Liberal Arts, Walailak University, Tha Sala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
Wararat Whanchit, Department of English, School of Liberal Arts, Walailak University, Tha Sala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand

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Background: Storytelling, a common family activity for preschool children to develop their literacy, can be used to promote learning of a language other than the mother-tongue, hence a starting point of home education for early childhood.

Aim: The study aims to integrate storytelling as a family activity that helps to promote learning of English vocabulary for preschoolers.

Setting: Young children aged 3–5 years and their parents living in a small neighbourhood of Muang District, province of Suratthani, in the south of Thailand attended the study during the restriction imposed to curb the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic under the ‘Stay at Home’ measures (March–April 2020). Both parents and children were given information about the study before they decided whether or not to participate in the project by parents’ informed consent for their child to be involved.

Methods: The data were collected in four stages: pretest, storytelling, post-test and interview. The storytelling material included five stories, particularly composed for the study. These stories were written in Thai (average 423 words), each with three English words inserted, making up 15 English words as the test items. Analyses were conducted on the pre- and post-test scores, observation of children’s learning performance and parents’ reflection.

Results: The preschoolers showed vocabulary development from listening to the in-house stories. On average, children obtained 12.2 scores out of 15 words in the post-test versus 8 scores in the pretest. The family’s satisfaction level was high, that is, 3.5 from 4 on children’s learning behaviour and English word development and 3.77 on stories appreciation. The preschoolers requested to hear a story as many as three times in order to be confident. The high frequency of hearing tended to predict individual’s development.

Conclusion: Storytelling promoted English vocabulary learning and it could be done at home, provided that parents are equipped with appropriate material. In a story, preschoolers should be introduced to mono-syllabic concrete words and only up to three words at a time. Repetition of at least three times is necessary.


COVID-19; English vocabulary; home education; preschooler; storytelling; Thailand


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