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Rebeca Barba
Professor Buckley
THE 337-01
5/15/15
Storytelling in the Classroom
Storytelling has been an important aspect of life all throughout history. Before written
language, people could only get stories across orally. Even in society today, people are telling
stories on a daily basis. When someone talks about their day or what they did at work, they are
telling and sharing their own story. There are many benefits to the act of storytelling and students
can gain valuable skills by learning it. Unfortunately, teachers have been forced to focus too
much on test scores, and they tend to not include aspects of creative drama in their classrooms
and into their lesson plans. If storytelling is incorporated more into classrooms, the students will
want to be more interacted and engaged in language arts and English, in addition to learning
many life skills along the way.
Storytelling in the classroom can include many different topics, and it is up to the teacher
to decide when the best time to incorporate each one is. According to the National Storytelling
Network, Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and
images of a story while encouraging the listeners imagination. In a classroom, it can consist of
the teacher reading a story to the students, the students reading a story to their peers, or the
students telling their own story. Each of these has its own benefits when it comes to storytelling.
They all help students enhance their creativity by being a part of the storytelling process. The
storyteller has to communicate a message and the audience has to use their imagination to
determine what is happening in the story. Everyone in the classroom will have their own role to

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play with any of these types of storytelling. By including different variations of storytelling into
the classroom, the students will develop a wide range of skills and abilities throughout their time
in school.
A students reading and writing skills can improve dramatically by incorporating
storytelling in the classroom. Storytelling involves speech and students are accustomed to this.
Since a young age, children are used to being around words and they learn to speak at a very
young age. Then, students learn to read and they have trouble with fluency and comprehension
because it is not natural for them. They have to try much harder to learn to read than they do to
speak. In A Case for Storytelling in the K-12 Language Arts Curriculum, Roney states that
storytelling is beneficial for students because storytelling works off of the young childs
strength as a functional oral language expert (51). Children are inherently good speakers, so
working on a strength of the student in order to have them learn to read would be helpful. It will
also encourage students to learn to read because they will see that they have a skill in
storytelling. Especially for students who struggle in reading, it will build their confidence and
they will be more eager to learn. These students will want to read more, in order to have more
stories to tell.
Having students learn and tell stories in the classroom can be very helpful to those
students that do not have the opportunity to do this at home. Many students have families that are
busy with multiple jobs, parents that do not speak English, or parents that do not know how to
teach them what is learned at school. With storytelling, students can hear stories and relate to
them. They can escape to another reality that is related to their own. When they hear a story that
is similar to theirs, they will learn that they are not alone. For example, folk tales and fables
incorporate many real life events and turn them into lessons to be learned. In Storytelling in the

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Classroom Not an Impossible Dream, Farnsworth mentions, Folk tales are about so much
that is real, matters of life and death. They contribute to an understanding of the universal
qualities of human life as well as the differences (163). Hearing these stories will help students
understand that the problems they may be facing at home are normal. A student may feel bad
because they do not see a parent at home or they had a relative pass away. When they hear that
this also happens to other people and there is always a lesson to be learned, they can feel better
about their own situation.
Storytelling in the classroom can bring a lot of value to the learning environment. In
many classrooms today, the information mostly flows only from the teacher to the students. The
students do not always have the chance to truly engage and participate in the conversation.
Students can learn skills, such as presenting and public speaking, by telling stories. In a
classroom, there is a sense of community between the classmates so, at this age, students will be
eager to go up in front of their peers and tell them a story. In Engaging Students in
Storytelling, Bishop and Kimball discuss the benefits of students telling stories in the
classroom, and they mention, when children and youth are involved in oral presentations, they
become more comfortable with public speaking as they grow older (Bishop and Kimball 29).
Many adults are not comfortable with public speaking because it is a skill that they were never
taught. In school, the focus was always the core subjects, such as math and science, so many
people never had the chance to learn how to speak in front of an audience. When students learn
storytelling, they also learn how to captivate an audience. By learning how to actively listen to
each other and share stories, they begin to learn skills that can prevent the fear of public speaking
in the future.

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In addition to public speaking, students can improve their listening skills with
storytelling. Just like presenting, many people today are losing the ability to actively listen to one
another. In a society that has been filled with technology, people have become so obsessed with
their phones and tablets that they have lost the ability to engage and listen to each other. When
students is telling a story, it is important that the teacher lets the other students know that they
have to listen. In Storytelling in the Classroom- Not an Impossible Dream, Farnsworth states,
Storytelling encourages and develops concentration and good listening habits in a pleasurable
and effective way (163). Students will be able to learn the ability to listen to each other and
absorb what their classmates say. Instead of being distracted during class, they can enjoy having
to imagine the stories that are being told, which helps them be more engaged with each other.
With good listening skills, students will also be able to learn good communication. This is one of
the most important skills to have. Students are now able to take these skills into their futures
because they will have acquired a skill that is necessary when looking for a job and starting their
careers.
Furthermore, students are able develop their writing structure by hearing stories. Instead
of having students individually read stories during class or as homework, it would be more
beneficial for the teacher to read it out loud for the students. By doing so, the students are more
engaged in the expressions and emotions that are brought out within the story. They can better
understand how the characters feel, which they might not have been able to if they read the story
alone. In a study done by Johanna Kuyvenhoven, the teacher read a story out loud and then she
had the students rewrite it. She noticed that the vocabulary levels were higher, sentence
structures more complex, the content more developed, and more literary devices were
incorporated (Forest 246). There was an improvement in the way the students wrote the

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retelling of the story from when they read the story alone to when they had the teacher tell the
story. This proves that students grasp and retain more information about their readings when
storytelling is involved.
Storytelling can be a useful tool when teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
students. ESL students struggle in reading and writing because they grew up learning a
completely different language. Each language has its own set of rules and it can be a difficult
transition for students to go from one language to another in a matter of a few months. In
Storytelling in an ESL Classroom, Colon-Vila says that storytelling helps ESL students
because young storytellers develop confidence and self-esteem by speaking before a group, and
they'll learn to express thoughts clearly (59). ESL students can benefit from storytelling because
they may not always feel comfortable going in front of a class to speak. When a student does not
know the language well, they become insecure speaking to others who know the language. With
storytelling, they are able to practice their speaking skills, while learning the grammar and
structure of the English language. With each new story that they tell to their peers, their English
will improve and they will feel more secure about the way they speak. This, in turn, will help the
students participate more in the classroom because they lose the fear of speaking incorrectly to
their classmates.
Storytelling is much more than a simple telling of a story. There are many benefits that
can come from it and it is important to teach it to students. Storytelling is a great tool for
educational purposes because it teaches many life skills that are useful in the future, and it helps
students in learning developing their writing. With storytelling, students learning about having a
beginning, middle, and end when communicating with others or describing a situation. They
learn how to have complete thoughts and how to captivate others when presenting. Students are

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also able to build their vocabulary and enhance their imagination. Creative drama is being cut
from the curriculum in schools more and more as the years pass by but, as teachers, it is essential
to keep it in the classroom because this is the only way for students to learn certain skills that
will help them in the future.

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Works Cited
Bishop, Kay, and Melanie A Kimball. "Engaging Students in Storytelling." Teacher Librarian,
33.4 (2006): 28.
Colon-Vila, Lillian. "Storytelling in an ESL Classroom." Teaching Pre K-8, 27.5 (1997): 58.
Farnsworth, Kathryn. "Storytelling in the ClassroomNot an Impossible Dream." Language
Arts 58.2, Listening and Talking (1981): 162-67. JSTOR. Web. 11 May 2015.
Forest, Heather. "Review: Storyworlds in the Classroom." Storytelling Self.Society, Vol. 6, No.
3 (2010): 245-49. JSTOR. Web. 9 May 2015.
Roney, R. Craig. "A Case for Storytelling in the K-12 Language Arts Curriculum." Storytelling
Self.Society, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2009): 45-54. JSTOR. Web. 11 May 2015.
"What Is Storytelling?" National Storytelling Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.