Did your parents read stories to you when you were young? Do you remember storytelling in your classroom in Grade 1? Do you read to your children or nieces or nephews?
Hopefully the answer to all three of those question is yes. Storytelling should be a part of everyone’s childhood and if it was, it will surely be memorable for years to come. There are many reasons why this is so and thankfully these apply to the EFL classroom as well. Here are a few reasons you should incorporate storytelling into your EFL lessons.
Storytelling helps with pronunciation
Hearing stories provides your learners with models of the language. Hearing stories aloud gives the learners exposure not only to pronunciation of words but also to aspects of stress, rhythm and intonation.
There are plenty of websites and podcasts and toys and apps these days that are available for free that will read to students. This is VITAL to them being able to practice pronunciation. Don’t be confused by the buzzword of phonics as a way to teach pronunciation. Listening to stories is a way to hear how sounds blend in a natural and native way.
Here is a great list of listening resources which includes several stories and podcasts. http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Listening/
Storytelling consolidates language
Stories provide an illustration of language in context. While our learners may learn vocabulary or grammatical structures during our lessons, stories show them how the language is used naturally, in an authentic context.
How many textbooks have you seen that include language used in a native way? Usually they are designed to introduce new sets of vocabulary and grammar BUT they forget that real people don’t talk like a textbook. That’s why stories are SO important.
Storytelling introduces new language
Stories are never read just once. Especially with Young Learners, stories are read repeatedly until the teacher (and sometimes the learners) can recite the story by heart! In effect, the learners are being exposed to new words and phrases again and again, in context, with the result that they will end up learning the language.
Storytelling appeals to everyone
We all know our learners have different learning styles, but our learners also have different personalities. The beauty of storytelling is that it can appeal to all kinds of learners. The fact that storytelling is usually accompanied by songs, actions, roleplays or artwork means that it will interest visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. At the same time, shy students are able to sit and listen quietly to the story while our more outgoing students can participate and act out and sing along.
Storytelling connects with the real world
Many stories that we read to our learners are well-known internationally. The chances are good that your learners will already be familiar with some of the stories you are reading to them. In this way your learners will be able to bring some background knowledge to the topic and they can relate the language to the story they already know.
Storytelling is cultural
Storytelling can offer a glimpse into another culture or way of life. Reading stories from all over the world can introduce other cultural norms and traditions to your students in a way they will find enjoyable.
You shouldn’t need any extra encouragement to include storytelling into your EFL lessons. There are many benefits to reading stories to your learners, not least of all that it is enjoyable for our learners and helps maintain interest and motivation. Start using stories today!
Adapted from TEFL Learning Academy