As I write this final posting in our discussion on storytelling, I’m getting very excited at the prospect of setting off to Hildesheim in Germany this weekend

 I am  attending and giving a workshop at the international conference on Children’s Literature in Language Education - from Picture Books to Young Adult Fiction, jointly organised by the University of Hildesheim and the IATEFL Young learners and Teenagers Special Interest Group.

 The conference promises to offer a wealth of academic papers, methodological talks and practical workshops and includes four strands to cater for every possible interest within the theme. These are:

Strand 1: EFL  extensive reading - reading for pleasure; teacher training with non-canonical literature.

Strand 2: Pre-teens and teens: young adult novels, graded readers, non-fiction, poems and graphic novels.

Strand 3: Young learners: Picture books, poems and nursery rhymes; language acquisition with literary texts.

Strand 4: Storytelling and workshops.


According to the conference website there will be presenters and delegates from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Brazil, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Eritrea, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan ROC, Turkey, UK, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, USA and Vietnam.

As you can see from this impressive list, the importance of the role of children’s literature in language education is clearly alive and well in many corners of the world! I can’t help finding this truly heartening and also moving. In our discussion over the last few weeks, I’ve seen and delighted in the varied contributions which have shown how storytelling has universal appeal and relevance which transcends any narrow definition of culture, nationality or race. This has affirmed my deeply-held belief that when used frequently and lovingly, whether for L1 or L2 education or just for sheer pleasure and joy, storytelling can help us all - in our own small ways - work towards creating a happier, more tolerant, peaceful and harmonious world.   

And what will the future bring? On a training course I ran recently, a teacher recounted how, when reading a picture book to her three-year-old niece, the child stabbed frustratedly at the pictures and complained: ‘But it doesn’t click!’

Will our children’s grandchildren still be asking to be told or read stories? Will the stories themselves be different, or just the mode of delivery and potential for virtual interaction, as technology marches excitingly yet relentlessly on?

Over to you ...! It will be wonderful to hear your thoughts.



As the conference gets underway in Germany it is important to take stock on what is going on in the field of Young Learners. What Young Learners see, hear and do may be changing faster than we realise as the gap gets wider between home experiences (TV, DVD, Mobile phone) and what goes on in the classroom. Young children are growing up as digital natives whilst some of their teachers may be digital immigrants. 
Since the 2004 Munich Conference - Using Picture Books to support early English language acquisition - how much has changed in the child’s world? I recently read an article in Monocle which illustrated the reality in two of China's big cities. Disney-run schools are now opening up in Shanghai and due in Beijing soon, and provide an environment where children from the age of 2 can not only read and speak English, but act out scenes and sing with their favourite characters - all in an up-to-date multimedia environment. 
So, the very same Disney tales of the past, but a very new method of delivery...

Yes, the modern gadgets appear to have dented the roles our traditional grannies played. The digitised world struggle to cope with man and is more comfortable with machines. They can pretend and portray emotions but can't exhibit on their own as they are momentary and spontaneous. Here comes the traditional art of story telling. It's not just a language that a child learns but his/her lessons for life, a road-map to their future, the future society's foundation stone and a family get together. The bond that a child connects to her mother,father or grand parents lasts till the last. For the adults no meditation or devotional music can cool down their their tempers as  their little kids. Their facial expressions, instant approvals and disapprovals... Just I long for such moments. The dusky evenings, husky voice, thrilling narratives...

Dear Carol!I agree with you that story telling has universal appeal and if we don't continue this wonderful tradition, we won't be able to attract children to reading. Yes, technology is enticing and grabbing, but I am still optimistic and think that we have to go on creating stories, making them attractive and exciting for children like Magic Pencil activities - thanks a lot for it - wonderful activities .I know one thing virtual interaction won't be able to replace: kind, smiling and loving faces of parents and grandparents. With best wishes, Neli

Hi OpalThanks so much for sharing these thoughts and for your summary of the article about the fast-changing reality of children growing up in China.It's so true that many children these days are fearless and intuitively competent when using new technology in a way that many of their teachers (myself, for one) are not. In many ways I think we can build on this positively and openly embrace the opportunities we have to learn from children themselves. And when we do this, it can also be a source of positive self-esteem as the children are in the position of being the 'experts' and the classroom situation of explaining to your teacher is also genuinely communicative.Interesting how you encapsulate the idea of the 'same tales' and 'new method of delivery'. One of the things I enjoyed learning about at Hildesheim was the innovation of picture books available on iphones which, despite my initial feelings of resistance, were truly enchanting!

Many thanks for these rich thoughts. You're so right that story telling is so much more than the language a child learns. In fact the way you describe it as 'lessons for life, a road map to their future, the future society's foundation stone' resonates strongly with me as fitting into a Vygotskyan view of how culture is transmitted in a society from generation to generation.I also totally agree with you that there's nothing that can replace the mediation provided by face to face contact in expressions, voice, instant feedback etc.. Let's hope that its power means that it will also last!

Dear NeliThank you very much for this and for making the invaluable point that it is through story telling that we entice children to read.I'm so glad you like the Magic Pencil activities! And I'm also delighted that the materials now have a new 'home' on this site. Several people asked me at the Hildesheim conference where they could access the Magic Pencil materials now that the Exhibition site has closed and so here is the link again now: completely agree with your last sentence - thank you so much again, Neli!

I was wondering what the criteria of a lesson plan are; other than objectives and procedure.

Is there a certain checklist I can refer to while preparing a lesson?


Hi there Thanks for this query - there are many different ways of approaching lesson planning and criteria will depend on a range of factors such as the context, age of children, type of lesson etc.. With regard to storytelling, one immediate suggestion is that you look at the ready-made materials on this site. This will give you an instant idea of criteria to bear in mind when planning story-based lessons. You can then use these as a model for planning your own lessons based around other stories of your choice.The links are: this helps - and good luck! 

I so agree with you. When I remember now the childhood moments when my grandma used to tell stories to me I get tears in my eyes. These emotions those stories used to generate in me were priceless.

Accidentally I reached your wonderful blog. Yet I added it to my favorites and promise to visit it on a daily basis.I 'd like to introduce myself I am Khalid Fuad. I am Egyptian but I live and work in Kuwait. I have BA of English language teaching in addition to TESOL diploma and TESOL advanced diploma. I work as an EFL instructor.As a matter of fact I am very interested in language acquisition and I believe teaching literature at the early age plays a vital role in this process. Can you please give me more details specifically about this point. Regards


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