How do we tell stories?

The following report of Andrew Wright's storytelling workshop was originally written for the 22nd TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Annual International convention and has been cross-posted on their blog.

Andrew Wright wasn’t wearing his storytelling coat on that Saturday morning, but he was definitely in storytelling mood. His workshop included tips on effective storytelling in our classrooms and of course, he read a few stories too.

But, why do we tell stories?
Andrew Wright believes that stories give motivation, they allow students to experience English instead of just study it, allow for bonding, support the four basic skills, help presenting and re-recycling and springboarding.

What are stories?
Stories can be real (facts, history, our life) or fiction (oral or written). They are life’s daily stage of events and we are the actors and how we talk, walk and behave is part of the story as well.

How to tell stories?

  • Be clear: Tell your story in such a way so that people can understand you. 
  • Include drama: Struggles (small or big) keep listeners engaged.
  • Be vivid: Describe as well as you can so people can see, hear and feel the story.
  • Commit and give yourself as much as you can.
  • Brainstorm your memories. Provide summary words and phrases. What is the situation? Who is involved? When? Where?
  • Use the five senses: See, hear, smell, taste, touch.
  • Include what you and key people thought, felt, said, did.

When telling a story, put your orchestra of telling to work: Content, words, voice, body, objects and pictures and participation.

In case of interruptions, cling on to your warm giving instead of introducing harsh negativity. If a book falls down, it can stay there. If two students are talking, walk near them and make eye contact or invite them to tell a story.

So make your story and try it on a friend. Tell your story based on your sequence summary and time it. Observe the changes you make to your sequence summary and revise it accordingly. It’s better not to write your story in full because this makes it difficult to narrate.

What is your story?

Image credits: Dimitris Tzouris CC BY-NC-SA Flickr & Dimitris Tzouris CC BY-SA Tumblr


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