Story Telling Ideas for Teaching ESL Students

Story telling is a good teaching technique for ESL students because:

1) Storytelling can help students learn new vocabulary in a contextualized way.

2) Storytelling can provide a fun and engaging way for ESL students to practice their listening skills.

3) Storytelling can help students develop their ability to understand spoken English.

4) Storytelling can help students improve their fluency and confidence in speaking English.

1 “The  Next Champion?”

This is a sports story about an up and coming tennis champion. The story tracks  the female tennis player’s career from her childhood and  speculates about her future success.

An illustrated sports news writing exercise story

“The Next Champion?” (PDF)

The Next Champion

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2 Mona Lisa’s Sister

In this international news story writing exercise, students have to write a story about the the recent (fictional) discovery of a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci similar to  the “Mona Lisa” but titled “Lisa’s Sister”.

Lisa's Sister is an international news story writing exercise.

Mona Lisa’s Sister (PDF)

Mona Lisa’s Sister

3 Telling stories worksheet

“Telling stories”  is a story telling  exercise  using pictures. Students try to match the vocabulary at the bottom of the page  to the pictures. Then they can listen to the audio and try to tell stories in the  pictures. Or, they can create their own stories.

Telling stories (PDF)

Telling stories audio

4 “Mountain Rescue” story exercise

The pictures show the story of snowboarder who climbed a mountain but then had an unfortunate accident while snowboarding down.

Mountian rescue illustrated story telling worksheet

Mountain Rescue (PDF)

Mountain Rescue

5 Lost Keys

This is a human interest story. It is  a story telling exercise about a common everyday occurrence. A woman loses her keys at the department store and is worried about being late for work. But everything ends well after her keys are returned to her.

"Lost keys" story telling exercise

“Lost Keys” (PDF)

Lost Keys

6 The  Astronauts Return

A story about a space exploration and research expedition.

"The Astronauts Return" is a news story writing exercise.

“The Astronauts Return” (PDF)


7  Titanic story telling worksheet (with answers)

This  is an English language   exercise aimed at engaging students in a discussion about the story of the Titanic.  Students try to match the vocabulary at the bottom of the page to the pictures. Then they try to answer the questions and recreate the story of the Titanic in their own words. Or they can listen to the audio and then answer the questions.


Titanic (PDF)

Titanic audio

8 “Oil Spill”

“Oil Spill” is  the story of  a damaged  tanker leaking oil and bursting into flames. The leaking oil  kills wildlife and contaminates the environment.

An ocean oil spill news story exercise.

Oil Spill (PDF)

9 “Cat in Tree”

These pictures about a genius cat who gets stuck in a tree form the basis of a local human interest story.

Cat in tree news story worksheet

“Cat in Tree” (PDF)

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10 Mt Vesuvius worksheet

“Mt Vesuvius” is an  exercise for discussing the volcano Mt Vesuvius.  Students use their own ideas to answer the questions.  

Mt Vesuvius short questionnaire for students.

MT Vesuvius (PDF)

11 Message in a Bottle worksheet 

“Message in a Bottle” is a   questionnaire for discussing and   Imagining the story behind a message in a bottle.

Message in a bottle story telling questionnaire

Message in a Bottle (PDF)  

12 Talking about the Loch Ness Monster

  This is a questionnaire  looking at the Loch Ness Monster and discussing  the possibility of its existence.  

Loch Ness story telling questionnaire for students.

Loch Ness (PDF)

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