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Lesson plan to accompany the June 2001 Newsletter

To see the text used in the plan

For a Word version

Preliminary information

Level: Upper intermediate/Advanced

Time: 90 minutes?

introduce storytelling techniques
To help students to tell
stories better in both English their own native language
To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To give oral fluency practice
To give listening practice - listening for pleasure

That the students will have recently reviewed grammar for expressing narratives
That the stds will find the topic interesting & useful for their learning
That, in general, the vocab will not be too difficult
That the grammar will pose no problems to comprehension

Anticipated problems:
Some vocab items might not be known - depending on the group.

Materials & aids:
Effective Storytelling - A Manual for Beginners taken from Barry McWilliams' site about storytelling
Comprehension tasks - see below
Stories - one for you to tell at the beginning & several for the stds to tell each other at the end - choose from the stories below - or see the June '01 Newsletter for links.


Stage 1: Lead in to raise interest & prediction

std<>std, tch< > stds, 10/15 mins

1. Ask the stds if they like listening to /telling stories - have they heard one today? etc..
2. In pairs stds brainstorm techniques that go to make up a well-told story.
3. Feedback - collate the ideas on the board - if not many are forthcoming you could add in some ideas. At the side of the board put up vocab that comes out that is connected to storytelling - this will be referred to later when you focus on the vocabulary.

Stage 2 - Listen to a story - choose from the stories below

tch <>stds

1. Tell stds a story - they listen for pleasure - there's no task but to get the general gist.
2. Elicit if any of previous ideas on the board were present in the story they heard - & are there any more they can add from listening to the story..

Stage 3: Reading - to view the whole text

std<>std, tch<>stds

1. Set the task - that the stds read to see which of the ideas on the board are present in the article. Set a time limit - make it a quick reading activity.
2. Stds read.
3. Stds compare ideas in pairs
4. Feedback - elicit which were present in the text.

5. Comprehension task - give out T/F sentences - do individually & then compare in pairs.
6. Feedback

Comprehension Task

Are the sentences true or false - identify in the text where you find the information.

1. The author thinks it's OK to use whichever story.

2. It's more difficult to tell a story nowadays.

3. It takes two to tell a story.

4. It's best to improvise when telling a story.

5. It's important to think about the intonation of your voice when telling a story.

6. It's better to make it a true story.

7. It's a good thing to repeat & exaggerate.

8. You must light a candle when you tell a story.

9. When you finish the story, carry on & make up more details.

10. If you have problems telling a story, the best thing is to stop telling them & let those that can tell them.


Stage 4:. Language focus - vocabulary

std<>std, tch<>std, stds<>tch

1. Elicit some of the vocab in the text directly connected to storytelling - stds underline all words they can find - in pairs.
2. Feedback on the board - in the box below is a selection of the vocabulary - it does seem quite a lot but most should be know - choose how many & which to suit.
Don't forget elicit/get them to mark part of speech & word stress.

folk & fairy tales
tall stories
trickster stories
hero tales
animal fables
urban legends
personal stories
improvisational stories
dramatic appeal
the heart of the story
paint word pictures
beginning, body, climax
emphasis, repetition, transition, pause & proportion
once upon a time..
tell stories

3. By way of summing up - ask the stds in pairs to choose eight words that would sum up the article.
4. Feedback.

Stage 5: Storytelling - speaking practice - choose from the stories below

tch<>stds, std<>stds, stds<>tch

1. Explain that the stds are now going to try to put the techniques into practice. Give out skeleton stories to each std & individually they prepare how they are going to tell them.
2. Go round & help out with tips for their particular stories & any vocab they might need.
3. Elicit interested listener responses & put some language one the board e.g. 'Go on', 'And what happened next?', 'I didn't catch what happened to..', etc....
Put the stds into small groups & they tell their stories - others listen for pleasure. Go round & take notes to give positive feedback - as this is quite a difficult task I should forget about the language errors & just give feedback on the good techniques they actively used.
4. After each has told their story, the others can give feedback on the techniques & how effective they were.
5. Feedback from you on the task.

- write up the stories they told.
- you could give out some web addresses & the stds have to find a story & tell it in the next lesson.

Taken from Stories in a Nutshell on the Story Arts web site
The Sack - A Sufi Story from the Middle East

Mula came upon a frowning man walking along the road to town. "What's wrong?" he asked.

The man held up a tattered bag and moaned, "All that I own in this wide world barely fills this miserable, wretched sack."

"Too bad," said Mula, and with that, he snatched the bag from the man's hands and ran down the road with it.

Having lost everything, the man burst into tears and, more miserable than before, continued walking. Meanwhile, Mula quickly ran around the bend and placed the man's sack in the middle of the road where he would have to come upon it.

When the man saw his bag sitting in the road before him, he laughed with joy, and shouted, "My sack! I thought I'd lost you!"

Watching through the bushes, Mula chuckled. "Well, that's one way to make someone happy!"

The Purse of Gold - A Jewish Folktale

A beggar found a leather purse that someone had dropped in the marketplace. Opening it, he discovered that it contained 100 pieces of gold. Then he heard a merchant shout, "A reward! A reward to the one who finds my leather purse!"

Being an honest man, the beggar came forward and handed the purse to the merchant saying, "Here is your purse. May I have the reward now?"

"Reward?" scoffed the merchant, greedily counting his gold. "Why the purse I dropped had 200 pieces of gold in it. You've already stolen more than the reward! Go away or I'll tell the police."

"I'm an honest man," said the beggar defiantly. "Let us take this matter to the court."

In court the judge patiently listened to both sides of the story and said, "I believe you both. Justice is possible! Merchant, you stated that the purse you lost contained 200 pieces of gold. Well, that's a considerable cost. But, the purse this beggar found had only 100 pieces of gold. Therefore, it couldn't be the one you lost."

And, with that, the judge gave the purse and all the gold to the beggar.

The Stolen Axe - A Taoist Tale from China by Lieh Tzu

A woodcutter went out one morning to cut some firewood and discovered that his favourite axe was missing. He couldn't find it anywhere. Then he noticed his neighbours son standing near the woodshed. The woodcutter thought, "Aha! That boy must have stolen my axe. I see how he lurks about the shed, shifting uneasily from foot to foot, greedy hands stuffed in his pockets, a guilty look on his face. I can't prove it, but he MUST have stolen my axe."

A few days later the woodcutter was surprised and happy to come upon the axe under a pile of firewood. "I remember now," he said, "Just where I'd left it!"

The next time he saw his neighbour's son, the woodcutter looked intently at the boy, scrutinising him from head to toe. How odd, he thought, somehow this boy has lost his guilty look . . .

The Gift of a Cow Tail Switch - A West African Tale

A great warrior did not return from the hunt. His family gave him up for dead, all except his youngest child who each day would ask, "Where is my father? Where is my father?"

The child's older brothers, who were magicians, finally went forth to find him. They came upon his broken spear and a pile of bones. The first son assembled the bones into a skeleton; the second son put flesh upon the bones; the third son breathed life into the flesh.

The warrior arose and walked into the village where there was great celebration. He said, "I will give a fine gift to the one who has brought me back to life."

Each one of his sons cried out, "Give it to me, for I have done the most."

"I will give the gift to my youngest child," said the warrior. "For it is this child who saved my life. A man is never truly dead until he is forgotten!"

The Lion & The Rabbit - A Fable from India

The animals of the forest made a bargain with a ferocious lion who killed for pleasure. It was agreed that one animal each day would willingly come to the ferocious lion's den to be his supper and, in turn, the lion would never hunt again. The first to go to the lion's den was a timid rabbit, who went slowly.

"Why are you late?" the lion roared when the rabbit arrived.

"I'm late because of the other lion," said the rabbit.

"In my jungle? Take me to this other lion."

The rabbit led the lion to a deep well and told him to look in. The lion saw his own reflection in the water and roared! The sound of his roar bounced right back at him as an echo.

"I alone am king of this jungle," he roared again.

His echo answered him, "I alone am king of this jungle."

With that, the lion became so enraged, he charged into the deep well with a great splash! The lion attacked his own reflection and was never heard from again.

The Boatman - A Sufi Story from the Middle East

A scholar asked a boatman to row him across the river. The journey was long and slow. The scholar was bored. "Boatman," he called out, "Let's have a conversation." Suggesting a topic of special interest to himself, he asked, "Have you ever studied phonetics or grammar?"

"No," said the boatman, "I've no use for those tools."

"Too bad," said the scholar, "You've wasted half your life. It's useful to know the rules."

Later, as the rickety boat crashed into a rock in the middle of the river, the boatman turned to the scholar and said, "Pardon my humble mind that to you must seem dim, but, wise man, tell me, have you ever learned to swim?"

"No," said the scholar, "I've never learned. I've immersed myself in thinking."

"In that case," said the boatman, "you've wasted all your life. Alas, the boat is sinking."

The Banquet - A Sufi Story from the Middle East

A poor man dressed in rags came to the palace to attend the banquet. Out of courtesy he was admitted but, because of his tattered clothing, he was seated at the very end of the banquet table. By the time the platters arrived at his seat, there was no food left on them.

So he left the banquet, returning several hours later dressed in robes and jewels he had borrowed from a wealthy friend. This time he was brought immediately to the head of the table and, with great ceremony, food was brought to his seat first.

"Oh, what delicious food I see being served upon my plate." He rubbed one spoonful into his clothes for every one he ate.

A nobleman beside him, grimacing at the mess, inquired, "Sir, why are you rubbing food into your fine clothes?"

"Oh," he replied with a chuckle, "Pardon me if my robes now look the worst. But it was these clothes that brought me all this food. It's only fair that they be fed first!"

Fate - A Hebrew Folktale

King Solomon's servant came breathlessly into the court, "Please! Let me borrow your fastest horse!" he said to the King. "I must be in a town ten miles south of here by nightfall!"

"Why?" asked King Solomon.

"Because," said his shuddering servant, "I just met Death in the garden! Death looked me in the face! I know for certain I'm to be taken and I don't want to be around when Death comes to claim me!"

"Very well," said King Solomon. "My fastest horse has hoofs like wings. TAKE HIM." Then Solomon walked into the garden. He saw Death sitting there with a perplexed look on its face. "What's wrong?" asked King Solomon.

Death replied, "Tonight I'm supposed to claim the life of your servant whom I just now saw in your garden. But I'm supposed to claim him in a town ten miles south of here! Unless he had a horse with hooves like wings, I don't see how he could get there by nightfall . . ."

Cooking by Candle - A Sufi Tale from the Middle East

Mula bet some friends he could survive a night on an icy mountain with nothing to warm him. Taking only a book and a candle for some light, he sat through the frigid night. When he came down to claim his winnings, his friends asked, "Did you take anything up there with you to keep warm?"

"No," said Mula, "just a small candle to read by."

"Aha!" they exclaimed, "Then you lose!"

A week later he invited these same friends to a feast. They waited and waited for food. "Dinner's not ready," said Mula, "Come and see why!"

In the kitchen they saw a huge pot of water under which a small candle was burning. Mula said, "Does this remind you of our bet? I've been trying to heat this pot of water over this candle since yesterday and it's not warm yet!"

Three Fish - A Tale from India

Three fish lived in a pond. One was named Plan Ahead, another was Think Fast, and the third was named Wait and See. One day they heard a fisherman say that he was going to cast his net in their pond the next day.

Plan Ahead said, "I'm swimming down the river tonight!

Think Fast said, "I'm sure I'll come up with a plan.

Wait and See lazily said, "I just can't think about it now!"

When the fisherman cast his nets, Plan Ahead was long gone. But Think Fast and Wait and See were caught!

Think Fast quickly rolled his belly up and pretended to be dead. "Oh, this fish is no good!" said the fisherman, and threw him safely back into the water. But, Wait and See ended up in the fish market.

That is why they say, "In times of danger, when the net is cast, plan ahead or plan to think fast!"

New Shoes - A Taoist Tale from China by Han Fei

A man needed a new pair of shoes. Before he went to the marketplace, he drew a detailed picture of his feet on a piece of paper, carefully measured them, and wrote down all their dimensions. Then, he set off on foot for the shoe store. Arriving later that day at the bazaar, he unhappily discovered that he had forgotten to bring the paper with his measurements on it! He turned around and walked back home to get it. It was sunset by the time he returned to the market,. and all the shops were closed. He explained his situation to one of the shopkeepers who had already packed away all his wares.

"Foolish man!" said the merchant. "You could have trusted your feet and tried the shoes on in the store! Why did you go home to get your diagrams?"

The man blushed, "I guess I trusted my measurements more . . ."



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