Let’s give a voice to allophone pupils!
Traditionally, teachers tell stories to their pupils. For me, it was my high school history and geography teacher who made me travel through Europe and in the whole world. Pupils, especially newly arrived pupils, can tell stories, and in turn, make us travel. Moreover, it was during the 70s/80s when the question of newcomer pupil’s integration was first raised, and storytelling became significant in French schools (Seksig, Alain, 2000). The educational use of stories and tales would make the transition period easier between the country of origin and the host country.
In concrete terms, from September 2015 to June 2016, I was privileged to follow six special classes for non-native newcomers as part of a heritage and cultural diversity awareness programme. The theme-based units of the Patrimoine en partage® program followed the usual progression of a non-native child:
Teaching staff and the Patrimoine sans frontières guests (part of which I was) enjoyed discovering urbane landscapes, natural sites, monuments, cities and villages with very diverse architecture. Thanks to the pupils, we were entitled to guided tours of top tourist attractions, as varied as the largest fortress in the Caribbean, the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Boulimat beach. The newly arrived pupils also gave us descriptions and told us their stories which took place in places of education, worship, in homes and play areas.
Without even leaving the classroom, the children’s stories (…Abdulghani’s, Joanna’s, Shandron’s), allowed us to travel in time and space, within their intimate spheres too. The latter referred to their chosen spots as aesthetically beautiful, bringing back memories with family and friends, evoking discoveries, amazement and a sense of wonder.
Tales come to life when the positive listening space is present. Storytelling enables some children to go back to somewhere dear to their hearts.
“I was planting flowers and fruit trees when the war broke my hut.”
(Shandron, memory book)
It gives others an opportunity to discover or rediscover their own culture and share what is important to them, according to their perceptions. The storyteller “brings into play his own words […] combining subjective facts (storyteller as a story maker) and returning pieces of information (recollection)”(Coppin-Mortreux, Elisabeth, 2002).
Moreover, this leads the audience, the young and old, to open up to other cultures. As soon as we move from an unknown linguistic and cultural diversity to a recognized cultural wealth, barriers are broken down. According to Mrs Abdallah Pretceille (1989), “storytelling also represents an excellent way of demonstrating the imaginary world, by its many varieties and variations, the approach to diversity is made easier”. 
Possessing a therapeutic and educational function, oral traditions and expressions are intelligent, ethic, straightforward and predictable sometimes. Stories and tales broach the subjects that are important to us at any age, and for that simple reason, are alive. As a consequence, this spoken genre constitutes a notable resource towards projects for newly arrived migrants, children and adults. Isn’t the most important to increase self-confidence while observing the thread of transmission linking us altogether?
Patrimoine en partage® is a pedagogy of personal and collective well-being (similar to the ALADDIN project)
Coppin-Mortreux Elisabeth, “Listening, narrating: in high schools, the children are telling stories…”, Inter CDI: revue des centres de documentation et d’information de l’enseignement secondaire, 175, janvier-février 2002, pp. 65-69.
Seksig, Alain, “Stories/tales and cultural identities”, La Revue des livres pour enfants,192, avril 2000, pp. 52-56.
Decourt, Nadine, “Immigrant stories/tales: short history of intercultural teaching”, Le français aujourd’hui : revue de l’Association française des professeurs de français, 095, septembre 1991, pp. 111-120.
 Council of Europe, Mrs Abdallah-Pretceille, report of the 40th European Teachers’ Seminar on Human Rights. Education in Pre-primary schools. Council for Cultural Cooperation, DECS/EGT, Strasbourg, 1989, p. 48.