ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Story Telling Through Role Plays for ESL Students

Updated on May 15, 2020
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign and second language. He has taught EFL in Taiwan and Thailand, and ESL in the U.S.

The Greatest Story Ever Told


Rationale for Story Telling

All EFL and ESL students need to apply their listening and speaking skills in an enjoyable manner to make the study of English interesting and fun. I have found that all students enjoy listening to stories, especially fairy tales. If given the opportunity, they also like to retell and act out these fairy tales. The activities of telling the classic fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, gave my sixth grade EFL students a chance to practice and apply their English in a group, non-competitive event. It also gave my students an introduction to storytelling and its elements of setting, characters, plot, and storyline.

Learning Objectives for Story Telling

Storytelling was chosen as a listening and speaking project activity for my students because I determined that the students would be able to meet the following learning behavioral objectives:

1. The Students Would Gain Self-confidence in Speaking;

2. The Students Would be Able to Express Themselves Through Body Language;

3. The Students Would be Able to Work Together with Their Classmates to Role Play a Story;

4. The Students Would be Able to Work Together with Their Classmates to Write Lines for Actors in the Story;

5. The Students Would be Able to Narrate the Story in Their Own Words;

6. The students Would be Able to Understand the Setting, Plot, Characters, and Story Line in a Fairy Tale; and

7. The Students Would be Able to Express Language Naturally.

Plan of Activity

At the time I was teaching listening and speaking classes, I only had two hours a week for six weeks to devote to this storytelling project. My plan of action was as follows:

During the first two weeks, I would introduce my students to the fairy tale, Jack, and the Beanstalk, through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic means. Using this multi-sensual approach, I would help the students understand the setting, characters, plot, storyline, and new vocabulary in the story;

During the third week, the students would be divided into groups of six. A leader would be chosen for each group. His responsibilities were making sure that the group writes its script (lines) for the story, and that each member of the group has a role in playing out the fairy tale;

During the fourth and fifth weeks, the students would start rehearsing their lines and acting out the fairy tale after the teacher had edited the students' script. The students would be permitted to wear costumes and bring in props during the final rehearsal during week 5;

During the sixth and final week, the student groups would role-play the fairy tale in class in front of the teacher and their classmates. At this time, the teacher would evaluate each group's role-play performance.

Actual Fairy Tale Role Play Experience

The fairy tale role play experience went more or less according to plan. During the first two weeks, I introduced Jack and the Beanstalk to four different EFL listening and speaking classes. I did this by first having the students listen to a narrative recording while I showed them colored scenes in the story. Next, I told the story orally with visual aids and also by acting out a lot of the scenes. Finally, I handed the students a written script of the fairy tale complete with pictures of the main scenes in the story. I helped the students understand the story by going through the setting, characters, plot, and storyline as well as by explaining all new vocabulary.

Before the students started rehearsing, I edited all of the scripts which were given to me by the group leaders. One problem was that some groups did not want to write the lines in their own words. The groups that did not use their lines often struggled in learning the lines which were in my suggested script. Due to the problem in learning lines, some groups only really had one hour of rehearsal time.

During the final week of performances, three out of the four groups put on good to excellent performances.

Story Telling Through Role Plays

Post Mortem of Role Play Experience

Four of my listening and speaking classes participated in this fairy tale role-play project. The two classes with the smartest and most diligent students fared the best in storytelling. Their written lines were original, and most students acted their parts very naturally. The narrators did a very good job of telling the story, and the two groups employed very good props.

One class performed average because most of the groups in the class did not practice enough. There appeared to be too much meaningless acting and not enough telling of the story.

There was one class that had a deficient performance. I think the suggested script for them was too linguistically challenging. The students in all groups could not put the story in their own words. Moreover, almost all of the students, including the leader of the groups, were not able to present a meaningful story to me.

Storytelling through role-plays resulted in being an excellent listening and speaking activity for all students. In the future, students will have more time to practice, individual differences in students will be better addressed, and I will pay more attention to the formation of roleplay groups.

Story Telling Through Role Plays

What can students gain the most from story telling through role plays?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)