Storytelling Activities in an ESL Setting
When I started writing this essay I found loads of interesting material on this topic and I think later on I will look for many more articles and books to learn more about this fascinating world of storytelling.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Olha K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What are Stories for?
If you think about storytelling, you notice that the passing down of stories from generation to generation from century to century taught us history, culture, skills, and knowledge. “Thinking of teaching as storytelling encourages us to think of the curriculum as a collection of the great stories of our culture,” says Kieran Egan “If we begin to think in these terms, instead of seeing the curriculum as a huge mass of materials to be conveyed to students, we can begin to think of teachers in our society as about people tied with an ancient and honored role. In the classroom, storytelling can be used to teach content, build community, and even heal trauma. Storytelling can be a powerful method for building empathy and community, thus it's not only about English language teaching, as well as of course about teaching active listening, writing, and speaking skills. Active and critical listening, asking questions, and tips for effective presentations are skills that can support research, personal reflection, essay writing, and other activities that are central to the classroom experience.
Storytelling and School Subjects
History and other subjects come alive when it’s told as a story. It can help students remember new concepts by teaching through stories. This can happen by using fiction to help students with processing some concepts or by having students share their understanding of a topic through digital storytelling. In the classroom, students can create digital stories in collaborative groups, taking on different roles. If they like the artistic aspect of this project might also motivate them to obtain new skills. Students who are knowledgeable about different tools can help teach others about apps like iMovie, Vimeo, Animoto, GoAnimate, emotional, etc. This activity not only boosts their confidence, but it also helps everyone advance together as a class. Students can help lead workshops or mini-lessons on these tools, showing the class that they all have different types of skills and knowledge to share. English learners can effectively communicate their stories through digital media because it gives them time to articulate their thoughts. They can practice, record, listen to themselves, and record. Often when students are put on the spot in class, they struggle because of the pressure to speak correctly. The object is to use a narrative element to humanize and deepen learning.
I found a website called storyarts as well as many other websites, with lots of awesome storytelling activities for English classrooms. I decided not to make a list of activities, but only to tell you about things I found the most interesting of all.
The first one was using proverbs. For example, invite readers to look at proverbs creatively and imagine the story the proverb suggests.
Another activity was the Autobiography of Anything
Everything has a story! Everything comes, in its elemental origin, from the Earth. Collect an assortment of "things: Piece of Paper, Shoe, Match, etc.
Imagine the life story of each of those "things." Describe their history backward through the personal use, purchase, manufacture, to original natural resources from which it or its components were made. Personify the thing and tell its story like an autobiography. Example: Tell the tale of a piece of the newspaper back to the tree in the forest.
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There were lots of other awesome activities but the list would be too long for this task. “Storytelling is an art form, a creative process and all art can move others and to captivate,” says The Storied classroom. “Most importantly, storytelling is simply part of our humanity. Using stories as a teaching tool can build student engagement and allows students to visualize content in their minds. Stories help teachers reach novices in ways they cannot with other strategies. They bring disparate information to life in a meaningful and connected way.
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