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Wanna Share a Story in Class? Go for It!

participation rapport stt student talking time teacher talking time ttt vocabulary Apr 17, 2024

If you’ve done a great job prompting your students to talk about themselves in class, chances are, you know a lot about them. You may know what they do for work, what their hobbies are and how they spend their free time. You might also know about their family, favourite foods, music, TV shows, and even gossip about their colleagues! If this is true, you’ve done all the right things to get your students talking and feeling comfortable with sharing their lives with you! Chances are though, that you’d like to share a story or two about yourself and with all the guidance about keeping teaching talking time to a minimum, you might not know the best way to share with your students while still following these key ‘rules’ of effective EFL teaching. Well, we’re here to say that you CAN share stories about your life but you’ll have to keep the following tips in mind if you choose to open up!


Rule 1 - There’s a WHY.

It’s always important to consider why you are about to share a story. Does it relate to something your student is interested in or passionate about? Can it help build rapport and trust? Does it use a recently learned grammar point? If yes, it’s likely safe to share! 


Rule 2 - It’s at the appropriate level and can be understood by your students.

If you want to tell your students a story about something you experienced recently and it’s fairly easy to follow (has language your students understand, doesn’t have too many characters involved, uses a verb tense your students are familiar with), go for it! 


Rule 3 - Students can participate!

If you tell your students a story about something you learned, saw, experienced, thought, etc. recently and want to share, make sure you can find a way to get them participating. For example, “I saw my first total solar eclipse last week and it was incredible! I went to an open park where many people in my city gathered, and we watched the moon slowly cover the sun until there was darkness. The people in the park cheered and celebrated and it was an incredible experience. Have you seen a total or partial solar eclipse?” (Students can participate here. If they have seen an eclipse, get them to share their experience). “Do you know someone who has seen an eclipse?” (Again, students can share). “Have you seen photos of a solar eclipse? What do you think about this type of event?” (Students participate here. If they seem interested in the topic, you can show photos, read a short news story about a recent eclipse, and even get them to search online for the next total solar eclipse). The goal in sharing a story is to prompt discussion in your students, continue to build rapport, and allow students to learn more about you. Make sure during this part that the conversation isn’t dominated by one or two students and that the whole group has an opportunity to participate. 


Rule 4 - Keep it short!

One of the most important parts about sharing a story in class is knowing when to stop and turn the focus back to your students. This is easiest to do by asking them questions about the topic and encouraging them to ask YOU, the teacher, questions about your own story. 


Rule 5 - Bring it back to class.

Find a way to lead to (or back to) your lesson after sharing your story. Maybe your story is linked to the theme of the lesson and your story served as the warm-up activity. Perhaps your story discusses a topic you’ll cover more in class. Whatever the link is, make sure you transition back to the lesson after your story is finished and your learners have had ample opportunity to participate in conversation. 


And there you go, permission to tell a story in your class! There are so many benefits to telling stories in your classes. You can open up your learners’ exposure to vocabulary and natural conversation patterns while building rapport and trust. Test it out, reflect on how it went, and make adjustments if necessary. Have fun opening up to your students and sharing a little more about yourself with them!