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Why Storytelling Matters

Storytelling has long been a tool we've used in language teaching, but what makes it so important? Ahead of our Storytelling Special event on May 13th, professional Storyteller Mike Dodsworth share his thoughts on why he believes storytelling is relevant to ELT and what qualities make a good storyteller.

Read his interview and register to attend our free Storytelling Special event online.

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Interview with Mike Dodsworth

1) Complete this sentence: Storytelling is …

Universal.

2) Storytelling is an ancient dramatic art; why do you believe it is relevant to English language teaching and learning?

Storytelling pre-dates the written word and the core storytelling skills of oracy and listening are central to the learning of language. This learning can then be applied to the writing of language. Is speaking more of a primary instinct than writing? Perhaps so.

3) As well as literacy and language skills, what skills and knowledge can stories help learners develop?

From understanding and interpreting stories one can gain a vast cultural understanding of both individuals and communities from around the world. This understanding then unlocks history, morals, mores and values as well as heightening a sense of empathy with the world.

4) You’re a trained and professional storyteller; can anyone really do it? What skills and qualities make a good storyteller?

I do believe that everybody can do it: they just need to discover their own way of doing it! A good storyteller will try to be themselves as much as possible as well as having the ability to interest and excite an audience. The latter requires some practice and training in using voice, gesture, memory, timing and how to work fluidly with an audience.

5) What has been your most memorable storytelling experience to date?

Telling a story in English to an audience of about 1000 people. Most of the audience did not speak or understand English but they did understand the story! That was a very powerful experience for me. It confirmed to me that storytelling is universal.

6) Finally, a challenge; can you tell us a tweet-size story (140 characters max)?

A King strolling with his retinue slipped in the mud. After a tense silence he laughed. If you can’t laugh at yourself who can you laugh at?

Join Mike at his Creating, Adapting and Performing Stories with Young  Learners webinar and live on Twitter during our Storytelling Special event on May 13th, when  he’ll be inviting teachers to co-create stories and share their own tweet-size  tales!