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Using Stories in the Preschool ESL Classroom

Do you want to start using stories in the preschool ESL
classroom but don't know where to start? There are many
great pre-k activities for ESL classrooms, including games,
but it's also very important to not discount the power of
stories. Whether you're reading a classic book, making up
a story as you go along or designing a story specifically
for a particular lesson, you'll want to be sure to include
stories in the preschool ESL class every day.

One of the reasons why stories work so well in the ESL
preschool classroom has to do with intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the theory that people are
motivated by internal factors. Children of preschool age
do not understand the external factors that might motivate
an adult to decide to learn a second language, so as a
teacher it's up to you to create a classroom that
internally motivates them to participate in the activities
and, ultimately, learn the language you are teaching.

Stories are perfect for teaching young ESL students because
children already love stories and are already motivated at
the thought of listening to one. In addition to that, when
children listen to the stories, they are able to internalise
the language structure and will eventually begin recognize
words and phrases they hear in the stories. Besides, there
are so many ways to use them in the classroom that the
possibilities with stories are practically endless. Here
are some possibilities on how you can use stories in your

Teach Vocabulary

Before you use a story in the ESL preschool classroom,
you'll need to teach the students the key vocabulary words
to they are able to follow the story. Thus the story can
serve as a basis for drawing vocabulary words. It goes
deeper than that, however. The students will not just
"learn" the words, they will immediately see how
the words are used and hear them in context of the
language. This is so much more beneficial to the students
than simply memorizing a list of words.

Varying Classroom Activities

Telling a story adds variety to your lessons in terms of
content and pace. Preschoolers don't have a terribly long
attention span, so you'll want to vary your activities
throughout the class period. Changing your activities
every five to ten minutes is appropriate for this age group
- and that's a great length of time to spend telling a
story. Furthermore, preschool students have a ton of
energy, so you'll want to have some activities that allow
them to burn this energy. To keep the class from getting
out of control, use a story after a boisterous activity to
allow everyone enough time to settle down before moving
onto something else. Remember also that you can tell the
same stories over and over again.

Be Creative

Whenever you tell a story allow your creativity show
through. Have fun with it and go with the flow. Make
animal sounds, change your voice, sing little songs and,
most of all, use gestures. You might even be able to get
some of your students to go along with you when it comes to
animal sounds, songs and gestures.

Introduce Other Activities

Stories are a great jumping board for other activities.
Here is just a sampling of activities you could do
following a story:

* Give each student a picture that depicts the events of
the story and have them line up in order of the events.
* Have the students come up with a title for the story.
Allow as many titles as students who'd like to share one.
* Repeat quotes from the story and ask the students
"Who said it?"
* Leave off the ending of the story and have the students
predict what they think will happen. Then, read the ending
of the story.
* Encourage the children to look for patterns in the story.
Have them guess, for example, what the character will say
if there is a pattern in what the character says.
* Teach them a song that goes along with the theme of the
* Teach them actions to go along with the songs.
* Let them act out parts of the story.
* Set up stations that allow them to dress up like
characters in the story and do things the characters in the
story did. So, if the characters in the story decorated
cookies, give them some time to decorate cookies.
* Tell a story to introduce a new unit.
* Give the students three events in the story and ask them
what came first.
* Have the students draw a picture about their favorite
part of the story and then explain it to the class.
* Let the students tell about a similar experience they
might have had.

There are so many things you can do with stories in the ESL
classroom. Just let your imagination go and soon so will
the imaginations of your students! If you want some ideas
to help you get started, just visit the link in the box
below the article for some free materials on using games in
the preschool classroom.

Shelley Vernon has helped 1000s of teachers be an
inspiration to their pupils Improve the effectiveness of
your lessons and enjoy yourself more. Receive free
preschool ESL games and stories now on

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