Nordplus Nordic Languages

Hugin & Munin - a Scandinavian storytelling project

05 February 2014

Can children learn neighbour-languages from listening to a good story told by an inspiring storyteller? Absolutely - that is the experience from the project "Hugin & Munin".


The idea for "Hugin & Munin" was developed by two storytellers; Danish Annemarie Krarup, who is also the project manager and Swedish Mats Rehnman, who has worked as a professional storyteller since the eighties.

The project was implemented in cooperation between storytellers from Norwegian Snirkelsnakk, Swedish Fabula Storytelling, Danish Fabelfabrikken and Fortællefirmaet Annemarie Krarup.

Storytelling improves understanding

The ones working with storytelling knows how effective communication through storytelling can be. In earlier times, storytelling (together with music) has been virtually the only source of learning, knowledge, recreation and entertainment.

So when we tell stories in an attentive way people are listening. And when the story is in a language that you almost understand? Then we try in every way to create meaning in the story.

When school children listen to stories told in a neighbouring language they try really hard to crack the language code. And our project showed that they succeeded; out of ca. 1,000 children from Roskilde who listened to stories told in Norwegian Swedish and Danish, almost everyone understood the stories we told.

Pilot project

The project started in November 2011 when 12 storytellers came together for a weekend in a cottage in Denmark where we planned a pilot program. The project was also a training project for young Scandinavian storytellers who have already received quite a lot of training in storytelling.

The pilot project took place in November 2012 at nine schools in Roskilde, where around 1,000 children listened to stories. Almost 300 children also participated in workshops where they were taught storytelling in Danish and neighbouring languages.

Storytelling attack

One of the methods used was a storytelling attack, where the teaching was interrupted with storytelling. "Thank you for your excellent storytelling attacks on Klostermarksskolen School. There has been positive feedback from both the teachers and the pupils. On the whole, the project has been received well and there are many fine roses to all storytellers. Both young and older pupils were very interested in the stories and thought it was fantastic”, one of the teachers said afterwards.

The last part of the project was a summer camp in August 2012 for young upcoming storytellers from Scandinavia, lead by an experienced storytelling teacher from each country.

The collaboration has been excellent throughout the project, and all participants have improved their understanding of each other's language. We have developed new tools for teaching neighbouring languages, and are in the process of spreading the project across Scandinavia. We've got several promising and exciting cooperation projects in progress.

Read more on our website and on our Facebook page.