telling stories clip artBecause I have an allergy to anything being too simple in my life, I have two vocational passions: teaching and creative writing. Arguably, I am much more successful in the former than the latter, if you go by evidence… These are two fields that require a dedication of time, effort, and mental bandwidth. And it’s a bit of a zero-sum game; time devoted to professional developmental as an educator is necessarily deducted from time I could be writing. Given that my landlord likes me to give him money at least semi-regularly, education wins more often than creative writing.

Yet, must they be mutually exclusive?

I saw this presentation on Prezi a few days ago, and it got me thinking about how we might use storytelling in the classroom more. Certainly using storytelling could be implemented in certain subjects – history, for one -with little effort, but I am not certain how one would go about it in the academic ESL context so easily. Using storytelling in the young learner classroom seems like a good fit; not just using storybooks, as most of us who’ve taught at that level have done, but interactive, drama-and-play infused activities, could be a powerful way to drive interest and meaningful learning. Back in the day, teaching kindergarten and elementary ESL in Seoul, I loved lessons that let us break out the finger puppets and get the kids to make up stories and performances.

 This post on Edutopia has some good points to consider.

The Many Benefits to Storytelling

When you tell your first story, there is a magical moment. The children sit enthralled, mouths open, eyes wide. If that isn’t enough reason, then consider that storytelling:

  • Inspires purposeful talking, and not just about the story — there are many games you can play.
  • Raises the enthusiasm for reading texts to find stories, reread them, etc.
  • Initiates writing because children will quickly want to write stories and tell them.
  • Enhances the community in the room.
  • Improves listening skills.
  • Really engages the boys who love the acting.
  • Is enjoyed by children from kindergarten to the end of elementary school.
  • Gives a motivating reason for English-language learners to speak and write English.

There’s also this article with several interesting points to consider. It’s a bit longer, so read it at your leisure. Quiz on Friday.

If you have any experience integrating storytelling into your lessons, especially in an ESL environment, please share!

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