Teacher-training workshops – young learners

What, tell a story to children who understand hardly any English?
All those nouns and verbs they don’t know?

But try it once, and you will see that nothing is better than storytelling for such children.
All that unknown language just comes alive for them in the story.
They don’t need to know all the words; they just know what is happening!

The children in this picture, from a Hong Kong primary school, can see the story unfolding before their eyes – they can be a part of it.

The DVD The Strongest of Them All shows more ways of working with a young class.
Although made with my 5th class of 10-year-olds (the youngest class I teach in my own school), most of the techniques shown and discussed in the teacher’s handbook are applicable to children one or two years younger.


Germany is actively encouraging the wide-spread introduction of early English in primary school. Consequently, thousands of primary teachers are training to be able to teach English in their classes.
Not surprisingly, they are discovering the importance of storytelling!

This group of teachers often needs to lose their inhibitions about using English. Sensitively structured partner and group work activities provide the ideal opportunity for this.

Together with practical work on the techniques of storytelling and methodology appropriate for this age-group, this workshop offers the chance of intensive language practice.

Workshop structure

A typical workshop for teachers of young learners might look something like this:

    • Short ice-breaking – partner work 60-seconds non-stop talking (a fluency activity for secondary school)
    • Listening to a story, leading to partner work in a structured re-telling of the tale
    • Free Melons – listening to a Nasruddin tale – analysing paralanguage – short whole group discussion
    • Participants are divided into two groups, each group receiving a skeleton of a different story. In small groups participants prepare a telling of their story, focusing on paralanguage
    • All participants are assembled and re-allocated with a partner who has prepared the other story
    • Participants disperse to tell their tale and listen to their partner’s. They offer immediate feedback (Glows and Grows – i.e. what was good, and what can be improved)
    • Short whole group discussion on the experience of telling
    • Methodology – participation storytelling (examples):

Two easy tales to tell to young learners

The Strongest of Them All
The Frightened Mouse


Feedback from the organiser of a primary workshop in Hanover

Alle waren so rundum zufrieden … Ich soll Ihnen ausdrücklich sagen, dass alle an Ihren Lippen gehangen haben! Auch diejenigen, deren Englisch noch recht eingerostet ist, waren gl&uucklich, alle Geschichten verstanden zu haben, wenn sie sie auch nicht alle unbedingt weitererzählen konnten.
Was wir gern von Ihnen noch lernen möchten, wäre unbedingt Mimik und Gestik. Das haben wir beim Nachspielen doch gemerkt, was bei Ihnen so natürlich aussieht, da fehlen bei uns schon einfache typische Gesten für bestimmte Dinge. Es wird auf jeden Fall wieder so ein Wochenendworkshop im nächsten Jahr stattfinden.
Brigitte Engelbrecht

Further general information

Teacher-training workshops

Current workshop schedule

Details of previous workshops in Germany, Italy, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and the USA

Workshop feedback: read what participants and organisers say

Downloadable workshop details in Chinese (2-page pdf)

Go here for tales to watch

Go here for a list of all tales included on this site

Go here to receive an e-mail notification when new tales are added

Permission to tell outlines my views on copyright

For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling