structure & video lesson plan
by Sandra Bradwell
Prompts for discussion
you enjoy listening to stories or do you think its
a waste of time? GIVE YOUR OPINION
people born story-tellers or is it a skill to be practised?
GIVE YOUR OPINION
stories have a typical structure? DISCUSS then WRITE
THE STAGES ON THE CUE CARDS
ingredients make for a good story? DISCUSS then WRITE
IDEAS ON THE CUE CARDS
you revel in telling stories or find it tedious? DISCUSS
Jane: Easter isn't a religious festival any more is
it, in Britain?
b Sandra: No, probably, unless you
involved in the church. My sister's become
quite..quite involved in the last few years.
c J (nodding): uh-huh
d S: Did I tell you about what happened at
East, at Easter I was going to say , in February? I
went back for her baptism, do you call
it baptism? Yeah baptism.
e J: Ah yeah I remember you taking some time off.
f S: Yeah in the middle of February it was and er it
was so funny.
It was on the Sunday morning and and I think the baptism
was at .. the service started at
one o' clock and the baptism was
g J (nodding): mmm
h S: at the end of the service ...by half past ten
we were all ready, waiting for this big event..
i J (nodding): raring to go
j S: ..I'm never usually up before half past ten
but ..but there, with the children and everything, we'd
been up since 8, and my uncle
Roy and Valerie, ..my cousin turned up at quarter past
k J: Oh, so the whole family
were involved then?
l S: Yeah family erm and we were having a drink and
anyway I nipped
up to the toilet ..and suddenly,
I was in the
in the toilet,
the next thing, everything
went quiet and
m J: Yeah?
n S: and I thought that's strange, especially with the
o J: Yeah
Anyway I open the door, go downstairs, nobody around,
er ...go into the front room and Stella
is backing off the drive in the car.
q J: You're joking!
r S: I'm not, no, and she's so busily talking
s J: oooo! Ssshhh! Aargh!
t S: to my cousin .. chatting away.. doesn't see me
standing there, waving, shouting "Hey,
hey I'm here!" Oh I couldn't believe it, so I thought
well.. what do I do next? So, go to
the front door.. locked, go to the back door.. locked,
all the windows had these special
locks on them.. couldn't get out of the house.
u J: Did you panic?
v S: Well, I was a little bit,
just shocked I think, that they could forget me. Just
w J (moves hands): guest of honour!
x S: Well yes,
some guest of honour. Anyway then I realised that everybody
has mobile phones so I rang
my cousin Valerie, no answer, I rang Stella's sister-in-law
.., she'd ..left a little bit
earlier, Linda, no answer, anyway finally I got through
to Stella's and there was a ..to
leave a message.
y J (mouth open): Ah!
z S: So I left this really weird message of me shouting
down the phone
"Hey I'm here, in the house, when are you going
to come and get me?", laughing
a2 J: Aha!
b2 S: Anyway I thought there's no point getting all
worked up about it,
might as well just stand by the window
c2 J: uh hum
d2 S: and hope that somebody will come
come to get me.
e2 J: And they did?
f2 S: Yeah about, it must've been.. about ten..
fifteen minutes later..
g2 J: What a relief!
h2 S: ..my brother-in-law came back, David , big grin
his face as he walked down the path
i2 J: yeah
j2 S: and me at the window, looking stupid ..
But anyway he asked what had happened, and I told him
what had happened. Anyway,
silly really but...
k2 J: yeah
l2 S: and fortunately we arrived at the church just
m2 J (nodding): Great!
n2 S: Well it'd started a little bit but in time to
see most of the service.
o2 J (hands open): So a happy ending?
p2 S: Yeah there was and I think it was good for Stella
in the end because she'd been quite
nervous and I think that made her, well..it certainly
calmed her down, I don't think she'll
forget her baptism in a hurry
q2 J: Ah so you've got a good family story now to
r2 S: Yeah, I
don't think she'll forget er the incident ..I certainly
won't let her forget it easily
Yes it was nice,
s2 J: Good
t2 S: we had a nice afternoon..
Opening, at beginning of anecdote, summarises for
listener what the story is about.
always remember the time
Have you heard about the time I
I must tell you about the other day
You'll never guess what happened yesterday
I had a funny experience last week
Near beginning of story to tell the listener(s)
about people involved, time, place.
know that secretary in our office, well, last week
Temporally ordered actions, outlining a remarkable
event which the narrator wants to share his reaction
Next thing we knew
Then you'll never guess what happened
But wait, there's more!
Anyway, to get back to the point
Oh, by the way
How the characters in the story or the listener(s)
react to the events related.Typical reactions include
expressions of anger, fear, amusement etc
you know what?
What amazed me was
I couldn't believe my eyes/ears!
I was over the moon!
Its function is to round off the story by building
a bridge between the story world and moment of telling.It
may focus on progress of one of the characters or
the lasting effect of one of the incidents in the
So, there we are.
And that was it, really.
Looking back, it was all very
these five elements give the story its structure, there
is another element which can occur throughout the story,
to maintain interest and make the story worth telling.
The term to describe this feature is 'evaluation'. Labov
(1972) says story tellers use evaluation devices to
help the listener(s) appreciate that something is funny,
embarrassing, humiliating or unusual.
Storytellers use exaggeration, repetition, noises, mimicry,
changes of intonation, emotive language, gestures and
attention to small detail to interest and involve the
Language learners usually find it difficult to use these
devices and tell the bare facts of a story with little
evaluation (McCarthy 1991)
are several ways people can show they are listening:
back-channel responses (I am listening!) To evaluate
Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear that
That was awful!
You must be joking!
What a relief!
So a happy ending?
or expressions or ideas
' raring to go'
questions to fill out details:
what happened next?
And they did?
To check details:
hang on but
I didn't catch that!
So the whole family
Guest of honour!
Look of astonishment (mouth open)
story usually sparks off another, each person who has
a story to tell may demand the floor to tell it. Why
does Sandra tell the story of the baptism?
the lesson preliminary information
the lesson procedure
a print friendly version