How to use Story Telling methods in the classroom to teach the English language

How to use Story Telling methods in the classroom


During our discussion on Language Games in the previous article, we came across many very good insights on how Language Games can play a vital role in learning English, without much conscious effort. Children enjoy playing games - this joy can be converted into language learning sessions by adopting certain useful language games.

Let me recall the learnings from the last article - Language Games

  • Games help students to learn through doing and sustains what is taught in the classroom.
  • Games provide language practice in various skills- speaking, listening, and later in reading and writing.
  • They create a meaningful context for language use and increase learning motivation and reduce learning anxiety. 
  • Every game is designed to help students acquire a particular skill or concept by following instructions, listening carefully to sounds, etc.
  • Teaching a language game follows 2 steps in ENK sessions.

Story Telling

In this article, you will see how storytelling is done in the classroom in a step wise manner. This is the last segment in the oral curriculum.

Storytelling provides fun and joy in the classroom, improve vocabulary development and oral expression, reinforce practical life skills and socio-emotional skills, and support cognitive development.

Stories in English Nali-Kali

In the ENK program storytelling has a specific purpose. It provides a link between the oral curriculum and the reading and writing curriculum.

A common criticism of many language programs is that children read individual words without a clear understanding of what they mean.  To understand the meaning of words they read (especially in a foreign language), children need to see the words in a context. The stories of ENK provide a context for the words learned in the early stages of R&W.
ENK stories are based on the theme taught in level 1. They incorporate the words taught in the Reading and Writing (R&W) milestone of the month.

Stories in ENK form a continuum with the end of the story at one level is also a beginning for the story at the next level. This maintains student interest across the storytelling sessions.

Just as themes shadow the EVS curriculum, the story shadows the Reading and Writing curriculum. The words taught in the milestones are the words that are used in the corresponding story.

The story is told through the help of readers.

Get the ENK Story Readers here:

SL. No.

ENK Story Readers


The Fat King  


Toto and the Cap  


Toto Goes Fishing  


The Rainbow Family  


Toto at the Fair  


Daddu the Sleeping Donkey  


 Izzy the Lizard 

The story continuum

What is the theme they are based on?

Yes, they are based on the theme 'My Body'

Year 1 - the story is of how a fat king went out with his dog and came back thin after chasing the dog for a few days.

Year 2 - the story, ‘Thin King and thin Queen' tells the story of how the fat queen tricked the king into eating her food so that she too became thin.

Year 3 - the story “The thin King and the Fat dog”  tells the story of how the King and queen in their wish to remain thin feed the dog part of their food causing it to become fat.

Look at the Story Card below: The Story card has the story written on 1 side with a rough time table of how to proceed. Behind the card, step-wise instructions on how to proceed are given.

How to use Story Telling methods in the classroom to teach the English language
Story Card

The story is told through the help of readers which use both a long version of the story as well as key sentences that tell the main idea of the story.

How to use Story Telling methods in the classroom to teach the English language
A Sample Story Reader

The reader is divided into sections. The left pages in the reader have the body of the narrative. The right page has the pictures depicting the story with 2 or 3 key sentences that have the major words introduced in the R&W sections.

Key sentences use only words children have learned to read.

Stories across the themes

How to use Story Telling methods in the classroom to teach the English language
Each story in the reader corresponds to a theme 

Story Telling steps

The Story Telling steps are taught over four weeks. The schedule and sequence in which storytelling is done are given clearly in the teacher card. The teacher is expected to follow the guidelines given in the teacher card.

Step 1: The teacher begins the narration by introducing the story and the key characters and key events as depicted in the key sentences. The story is told in the mother tongue without using any props except the teacher’s voice and face.
Step 2:  The teacher reads the story in English using the Teacher Card.
Step 3: Using the Reader, she reads the story line-by-line and translates the story line-by-line in the mother tongue and explains the meaning of keywords like fat, king, queen, dog, thin, walk, cat, ran, after, days, and caught in the mother tongue.

Watch this video to understand the above steps (1-3) better.

Step 4: The teacher points out to the key characters and their actions from the pictures, the teacher asks echo questions where children are expected to repeat part of the sentence back to her. 

The fat king had a fat queen and a thin dog. What did the fat king have? 

The fat king and thin dog went for a walk. Where did the fat king and thin dog go?  

She allows children to answer and then says it in a complete sentence (Yes … the fat king and thin dog went for a walk) 

Step 5: The teacher points out the key sentences in the Reader and gets the students to repeat after her as she puts her finger on each word.

Step 6: The teacher then asks simple questions to the students:    
Who was with the fat king?
What did the thin dog see?  
What did the fat king do?

Watch this video for a better understanding of the above steps (4-6).

Step 7: Students then open the Cloze exercise in the workbook.     
The teacher reads the story with expression pausing at the picture, allowing students to respond by giving the word for the picture.
The teacher reads the story again asking a few children at random to fill in the words for the pictures.
The complete story is read in English with the children following the sentences in their workbook.

Watch this video to understand step 7.

Watch this video to understand all the Story Telling steps (1-7) in one go.

How do I manage the class when students of class 2 have to be included in the activity? 

The teacher follows all the steps given in the story card and uses the first 20 minutes to narrate the story to students of level 1.
Once the teacher is done with the story for level 1 students, he /she takes out the story card of Level 2 students and follows the same step for the next 20 minutes. 
As the story at Level 2 is a continuum of the story at level 1, the shift from level to level is seamless and children enjoy the activity.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Story Telling is the most difficult exercise and takes considerable time, patience, and energy as you will need to repeat it a number of times. Repetition is an important part of the story – the more times they hear the story the better they can predict what will happen.
  • The teacher must know the story and rehearse it several times before saying it in the classroom. 
  • Follow every single step using the correct teaching aid. Teachers tend to miss or mix steps which are not advisable in the early stages.
  • When telling the story use your face and modulate your voice so that the story comes alive for the children. Always make eye contact with the children when telling the story.
  • Use a good mix of the mother tongue and English when telling the story. The story must always be told in the mother tongue first so that children understand it. Story reading must always be in English.
  • Several repetitions are necessary before children will be able to answer questions on the story so do not be discouraged if children do not respond.
  • Slowly lead children to give one-word answers and move on to sentences. Differentiate between echo questions and recall questions.

Let us sum up

  • Storytelling provides fun and joy in the classroom, improves vocabulary, and supports cognitive development.
  • Stories bridge the oral curriculum with the R&W curriculum.
  • Words taught in the milestones are used in the corresponding story.
  • The Story Telling process has 7 main steps.

Download the module: Story Telling

Credits: Samagra Shikshana Karnataka and UNICEF

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