Incorporating Storytelling Activities in the ESL Lesson
I believe storytelling is one of the best methods for keeping students engaged while helping them to understand and remember a topic. Regardless of age, everyone enjoys a good story. There are many ways to integrate storytelling into the classroom. One way is to use a story to introduce a new topic. This could mean a funny or personal anecdote relating to the new subject. It could also mean reading aloud from a book or having students listen to an audio recording. Not only will the story grab the attention of the audience, but it will also be a good opportunity to speak somewhat casually with the students, using a variety of vocabulary you expect them to learn in context. An important aspect of storytelling to keep in mind is the English level of your audience. It would not be appropriate to speak at a normal to fast pace or with advanced vocabulary to a group of beginner English learners. It is suitable, however, to tell a story with gusto, at an appropriate pace, and with descriptive detail that students at that level can comprehend.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Katie W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The Level of Connection
Research shows that children retain more knowledge when they can connect it with a classroom activity. Repetition, imagery, and patterns are all methods of memorization that can be used to teacher/student advantage (Richards). When children can relate a word to an image or motor skill to action, they are more likely to retain that word and its meaning. Association is a key way babies and young children learn their mother tongue. Many babies can learn to use sign language to say what they need even before they can talk. I find that fascinating. It shows that children are observant beings with minds that are eager to obtain knowledge.
Ways to Implement Stories
There are many different ways to incorporate storytelling into the lesson plan. The teacher doesn’t have to be the only person who gets to tell a story. One example of including students in the storytelling is a Round-Robin activity. This is where one student writes the introduction to a story, then passes it on to the next student to write the body paragraph, and so on, and so on. When the story is completed, students can read the result together, which will more than likely be something unexpected.
Another fun activity for students involves them picking out a random piece of paper from a hat. The paper will read the main idea of the play they are then expected to write. This can be done in pairs or small groups, and students can work together to compose the story and to figure out the correct writing and word usage. When students are finished, they will perform the play for the rest of the class, allowing them the opportunity to practice their speech.
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Storytelling is an interactive way to grasp a student's attention and hold on to it for longer (or at least until the end of the story). Immersing students in a new world allows for the use of a new language. It is important to keep the students interested and involved and I believe stories are a wonderful way to ensure that.
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