Using Signed Stories for TESL

There are endless ways to use stories in the classroom – here are some ideas:

Rhyme
Younger children don’t necessarily need to learn the meaning of every word, just what is happening generally in the story. What is important is that they are able to listen and imitate pronunciation.

Our Handy Rhymes collection tells popular and simple stories with repetitive vocabulary and word patterns.

  • 'Humpty Dumpty' contains four-line verses with rhyming couplets.
  • Nursery rhymes can help you teach specific English vocabulary.
  • 'Hickory Dickory Dock' is great when teaching children to tell the time.
  • 'Five Little Speckled Frogs' is useful when learning numbers.

The content of rhymes also allows children to hear English in different ways – for example the lullaby of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and the limerick 'Little Miss Muffet'.

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Illustrations
Many of the stories on the site have beautifully detailed illustrations. These offer great opportunities for extended learning as there is so much to be gleaned from the artwork! Children are already used to decoding stories and information in their home language and, when guided, will learn to transfer these skills to the English language.

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Explaining social situations
Stories which explain social situations in English can really help children apply their language learning in practical ‘real-life’ settings.

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Learning key vocabulary
Teach students key vocabulary words to help them follow the story. They are much more memorable when children see how they are used and hear how they sound in context. Illustrations act as an additional aid to memory. This type of fun learning is so much more beneficial than simply memorizing a list of words.

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Culture
Teaching another language isn’t just about vocabulary and language construction. It’s also about teaching the culture of the people who speak the language.

Many stories have beautiful illustrations of the British countryside, and there are also books from other countries where English is spoken, such as India and Australia. And there are depictions of many other cultures too.
 

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Get parents involved
Stories are great to send home with the kids, to encourage parents to read with them, and also maybe improve their own English skills! Many families have access to the internet at home or at a nearby library or internet café to access Signed Stories. This creates a real synergy between school and home.

“Many families enjoy slipping English phrases picked up from picture books into everyday home language conversations. Not Now Bernard is quite a favourite!” Opal Dunn, educational consultant and author, The British Council.
 

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