Classroom Activities Using Storytelling
Storytelling in the classroom can seemingly be one of the most diverse and engaging ways to help students learn English as a second language. Storytelling for the purposes of this essay is a broad term that I am using to refer not only to students telling stories about what they did on the weekend for example but also using existing stories that are well known and loved, for example, Harry Potter or the Lion King.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jamie S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Benefits of Storytelling Activities
Firstly, classroom activities using storytelling when centered around the students are a great way for students to get to know one another. With appropriate facilitation, a student can turn a basic conversation about how many people they have in their family, into a story highlighting what they did or would like to do with their family. From here, this conversation can build into shared experiences with their fellow students. A student in the classroom that regularly plays soccer, for example, can then be paired with another student who also regularly plays soccer, and together they can try to build a story out of that shared commonality.
Storytelling Skill Development
Further, students can be encouraged to go and explore and to create their own stories. This can again be facilitated by the teacher. For example, a teacher can pass out a homework sheet listing different animals, which the students can then try and find outside of class. Back in the classroom, the students can then have a conversation with others who saw the same animals they did and discuss how. Thus, they will be sharing stories. This is seemingly a way to create stories that students can engage within the classroom and they are creating their own content without perhaps realizing it.
Moreover, using existing stories, such as the Harry Potter or Lion King examples as listed before, opens up a plethora of additional classroom activities. In addition to showing videos in class, which typically keeps students engaged, these stories are already well known and loved. Students can then periodically discuss who their favorite characters are and why, or they can complete a word-find listing the animals they have seen in the Lion King movie. Students could play a bingo game, listening for certain words or looking for different items on the screen and describing it. Moreover, students can be asked to write a summary of a story that they love, or else tell it in their own words, as a way to build and construct full sentences.
For the more ambitious, writing a script from a part of the movie and then re-enacting it would be another fun class activity, although this would likely be embarrassing for many. In short, there is quite simply a vast array of activities that can be used in the classroom, which when paired with a story that is already well known and engaging, will likely make for a fun classroom activity. However, there need to be certain conditions for this kind of activity to work well. Any video should not be played for too long at any one time and is a supplement to other activities, rather than an activity in and of itself. Also, not all classrooms will necessarily have access to video players, especially those located in rural Asia or Africa.
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Overall, storytelling - whether it be a story about the students own experience, a created story or an existing well-known story - is a fantastic way to get students to engage in learning material and provides a platform for a large array of different written, listening and spoken activities which can be delivered in a fun environment.
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