Today I write to you from Stockholm in the balmy South of Sweden where the temperature is hovering around zero!

Dear Everybody,

Here is a classical story-telling technique:

Prepare a story and one that would not normally take more then 3-4 minutes to tell.

Explain to the students that you are going to tell them a story and that their job is to stop you, by asking a million questions about the story! You must answer all the questions however quickly and rudely. Your task is to try and get to the end of your telling!

The second time you use the technique in an intermediate or advanced class group the students in tens, with one student teller in each group. This is more student centred and is great fun. Loads of interrogative practice.

Warmly yours,  in haste,   Mario


Dear Mario

I missed a couple of your postings but chose to come to this latest posting. Any way I'll go back to them later. 

Interrupting the story-teller sounds fascinating. I'll try out this very soon and let you know how well or bad it went.

Regards, Cherry. 

Dear Cherry,

                   This technique, in my experience, results in gales of laughter and I think it is because there is something intrinsically humorous about breaking discourse rules, in this case the rule that says that a storyteller may hold the floor without being interrupted.

Warmly yours,  Mario

Ps: please let us all know how your interrupted story lesson goes.


 Dear Mario,

Thanks again for your nice techniques.

I used the technique in my class and all students enjoyed asking a lot of questions.

Best wishes, 

Amir Abbass Ravayee


Dear Amir Abbass,

                           Your feedback is precious. Though I have confidence in the technique for myself and the sort of classes I teach, your feedback is HUGE as you are a quite didfferent person from me and your classes area surely very different from are quarter of the world away from my little corner here in Kent.

Your words lift me out of the inevitable loneliness of the teacher,


There are huge cultural differences in the ways people involve themselves in storytelling. Last week I told stories to a mixed nationality audience where the majority spoke Arabic as their native tongue. The warmth and emotion displayed non-verbally as well as in interjections enhanced the communal experience. Laughter bubbled and tears flowed freely.

When I tell stories to British adults, there is often an initial tentativeness about participating vocally. This often thaws once the convention has been established that participation is welcomed! The danger is that interjecting can quickly lead to heckling, which is another cultural behaviour associated with stand-up comedy. I suppose storytelling is an unfamiliar experience to the majority of us.

Many British listeners close their eyes to go on a personal internal journey through the story, while the Western Asian audience seem to be sharing in a collective experience.

See me telling traditional tales.

Add new comment

Log in or register to post comments