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Community Forums The Teachers’ Room May 2018 – Storytelling

May 2018 – Storytelling

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    • #2855

      Steven Herder

        Join us as we explore the power of storytelling. As teachers and as learners, stories never fail to leave an impression on us.

      • #2874

        Steven Herder

          1. Reasons for telling stories in class

          to be more personable
          to show language in a more natural context
          to illustrate a point in the language
          to entertain
          to provide more input for the students
          to show that stories take us beyond words to imagination
          to get students excited about the topic
          to activate ‘schema’
          to motivate students
          to convey life lessons
          to capture the imagination
          to relax students and get everyone on the same page
          to get students used to hearing English
          to show that stories are good practice for real life storytelling

          2. Reasons for having students create stories

           Some students also need to be able to tell stories for oral exams, e.g. EIKEN
           Keeping their interest up with personal stories keeps their level of input and output high
           Telling a story requires listeners. It’s a way of giving an individual space they would not otherwise have
           Practicing non-classroom situations
           Use the English they already know for fluency
           Push them to use new English
           To use language that they’ve been working on
           In Korea, they used the NatGeo “Our World” series. And every unit has a big NatGeo picture in the beginning and end somewhat related to the theme. And so, I used the pictures for stories to see what they already knew at the beginning of a unit and what they’d learned at the end. And then I gave them a copy of each, so they could see the difference.
           “teaching” some information in a story solidifies knowledge
           Talking about one’s self or a character well developed is important

          3. Things we would like to discuss next

           How, when, and why of using stories?
           I would love to know more about split stories – I know we’ve touched on that before.
           I’d love to know more about how to support young learners in telling their own stories.
           Maybe we can write out a procedure on one example of how we use stories and share
           Maybe we should do homework and post “My favourite story-telling lesson” in the forum
           Sometimes I have more than one method but I’m not sure which one works best so it would be good to hear other opinions
           I’d like to hear more about the methods you use.

          4. Sample Favorite stories

          The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)

          Jonathan Livingston Seagull

          All the Good Things

        • #2878

          What a wealth of information!

        • #2879

          Split Storytelling: A Method for Deeper Impact and More Memorable Teaching Moments

          About 10 years ago, I was introduced to the idea of split storytelling. Actually, it’s already something we are very familiar with from TV soaps/dramas where one episode ends on a cliffhanger and we are left with that burning curiosity to find out what happens next?!

          In addition to the many benefits of stories and storytelling that Steve has kindly shared above, split storytelling works particularly well with English language learners since we can (a) break down bigger stories into more manageable chunks, (b) give students a chance to check their understanding with each other, and (c) engage them further as they guess what will happen next. On top of this, they are also left in a state of curiosity, ideal for learning.

          To find out more about the nuts and bolt, check out this excellent article by Brad Deacon:


          On Friday May 18th in The Teachers’ Room, I’ll be sharing how I’ve used this with my own students, along with the pros and pitfalls, and answering your questions.

        • #2884


            Look forward to that, Phil.

            I’ll try to share some activities here to use with that greatest Western Taoist, Winnie the Pooh:
            ‘One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do something, so he went round to Piglet’s house to see what Piglet was doing.’

          • #2885

            Great! I loved the Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet when I read them some 20 years ago!

          • #2891

            Anne Hendler

              Just to add to the sample favorite stories: One of my favorite stories that I’ve used in class (in Korea) because I love sharing the stories I love with my students is “Leaf by Niggle” by JRR Tolkien. I used this with a junior high school student in a one-on-one lesson. We read a little each day. I wasn’t a very experienced teacher at the time and there wasn’t much of a lesson plan around it – we used the print version and I helped her with the difficult words and we talked about what happens in the story. In retrospect, she probably only put up with it because it was obvious I was so excited about sharing it with her. Now I probably would have chosen something shorter and easier, and I would have planned vocabulary activities and role plays and discussion questions, and it would have looked more like a class. But maybe it would have been less meaningful and fun.

            • #2894


              …it would have looked more like a class. But maybe it would have been less meaningful and fun.

              That’s an important consideration, isn’t it, and reminds me about our previous discussions on motivation in language learning and the role of enthusiasm. Moreover with private students, especially with parents paying for younger learners, factors such as teacher likeability, earnestness, and trust can outweigh teacher experience, approach or methodology.

              So, really there are at least two stories if not three in your post – the Story you used, the teaching anecdote, and the learner’s journey!

            • #2899

              Anne Hendler

                Wow. I didn’t see all that: a story full of stories. Thanks for showing me a new way to look at the experience. Imagine what can happen when enthusiasm meets knowledge. I guess that’s the magic I’ll see on Friday night!

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