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Simply Storytelling: Inspiring English Learners with Story Prompts

November 24, 2023

At ElliiCon2023, Jamie Keddie, the ELT King of Storytelling, shared some wonderful stories. He had the whole audience captivated. As teachers, this is exactly how we want our students to feel about their English lessons. Stories are therefore perfect for the ELT classroom. 

Why use stories in language classes?

Not only are stories captivating, but they also offer students a chance to practice all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), develop their vocabulary, and get creative. 

Here’s a sketchnote I did of Jamie’s session, which summarizes some of the benefits of using stories in class: 

Emily Bryson's sketchnote of Jamie Keddie's ElliiCon 2023 session on storytelling

If you’d like to try using storytelling in class, Ellii's Story Prompts are a great way to get started. These fun, minimal preparation, digital lessons are suitable for all ages and can be adapted for any level of learner. 

One of the many benefits of Story Prompts is that they can be used in many ways. As Jamie pointed out during his session, one story can be many different stories. It depends on who is telling it, how much detail is included, and what perspective is chosen. 

In this post, I’ll look more closely at how to use Story Prompts to inspire your learners. 

What topics are found in Story Prompts? 

Ellii's Story Prompts have topics that kids love. Here are some examples: 

  • Space
  • Playgrounds
  • Fairy Tales
  • Superheroes
  • Oceans
  • Farms 
  • Christmas

As Jamie pointed out, stories are a great way to introduce a topic. So if you’re planning on exploring ocean plastics, outer space, or getting festive, why not start with a Story Prompt activity?

How can I use Story Prompts? 

Each of Ellii's Story Prompt lessons are available online and the activities are graded for beginner, low-intermediate, and intermediate learners. The art is made in-house by Ellii's own talented illustrators!

At every level, students explore key vocabulary and are supported to create a story using a picture scene. 

For example: 

  • Beginner: Use the flashcards to pre-teach vocabulary.
  • Low Intermediate: Match the vocabulary to the images.
  • Intermediate: Look at the picture story and list what you can see.

Students then use the picture story to create their own stories. Here’s the picture scene for the Ocean Story

Ellii's Ocean Story Story Prompt picture

Depending on the level, there are a variety of tasks students can do to prepare them for telling their stories: 

  • Describe the picture
  • Describe the characters
  • Describe the background and the setting
  • Write captions for each person in the picture
  • Write a dialogue between the characters
  • Think of a problem one of the characters has (and solve it)
  • Think of a beginning, middle, and end to the story
  • Think what happened before or after the picture

Once students are ready, give them time to write their stories and practice telling them in pairs or small groups. They may then wish to tell their stories to the whole class. 

It’s always interesting to see how different every story is! 

You can access Ellii's Story Prompts lessons here. There are also helpful Teachers' Notes, where you can find more teaching ideas and example stories.


Watch Jamie’s full webinar from ElliiCon2023 and be sure to join us next year!

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