How Storytelling Can Transform Your Teaching

David Weller
6 min readSep 26, 2022

Why stories are the key to better student outcomes

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People have used stories to communicate knowledge and ideas since the start of humanity.

Stories are the oldest form of education, with millions told daily. Stories help us learn, entertain us and give us comfort. Stories help us make sense of our world and our place in it.

They can also make your lessons more engaging, effective and fun.

How stories change teaching

When I started teaching in 2003, in a school in the middle of China, no one used stories.

At the end of each coursebook unit, there was a story students could cut out and fold into a booklet. Most teachers ignored this story to spend more time teaching the unit’s vocabulary and grammar.

In my second term, I had a strong class that finished a unit faster than expected. I tried using the story as a time filler.

It was revolutionary.

We sat in a circle, looked at the cover and discussed what they thought the story would be about. We read the story, laughed at the characters, and discussed the ending. They discussed characters in pairs and created alternate endings for homework.

These students had been starved of stories and imagination, and it showed.

How stories affect learning outcomes

There are many benefits to using stories for you and your students. 1

Stories can:

  • Improve understanding and grades.
  • Increase motivation and engagement.
  • Improve listening skills.
  • Improve focus and attention span.
  • Improve memory and recall.
  • Encourage creativity and imagination.
  • Give students a way to understand the world.
  • Have a calming effect and reduce anxiety.
  • Encourage cooperation.
  • Build rapport with students.

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David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.