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Building Fluency: Telling Stories about Experiences

A brilliant way of building your English is through story telling. Reading and listening to other peoples stories is a great way of building a bit more exposure to natural spoken English, using the kind of language that we would use in more casual conversations. Also, it's an excellent way of getting to know people better!

This post pulls together a number of sources for stories in both written and spoken form which give a brilliant overview of how English speakers tell stories.

To use these materials as the basis of a lesson, I would suggest taking a couple of stories and then thinking about how you would want to recount them and, if you can, how they relate to your own life experiences; take the following sentence starters as a prompt...

  • Did you ever hear the story about...

  • I just heard a really interesting story about...

  • It really reminded me of the time that I...


The Materials:

The Guardian Experience:

The Guardian have published a number of real life stories of peoples unique experiences which is well worth looking into, some of them are pretty abstract so you might find you need to search around a bit to find something relevant to yourself. Some of the best one that I have found, and have used as lesson materials before are; I’m retiring at 100 years old...I'm nine years old and won an adult 10km race by mistake...I was attacked by two sharks at once...I tunnelled under the Berlin Wall...I survived a plane crash...I drink more than 50 cups of tea a day...I speak more than 50 languages... with new stories added regularly!

BBC News Stories:

Radio 4 Shared Experience:

Another source of well written stories is from the BBC on their Stories page. The topics tend to be a lot more serious than the Guardians Experience page and It's worth having a look what you find most interesting - one story I really found interesting was We were students negotiating with armed guerrillas for my father’s life.

To train your listening skills, Radio 4 have a brilliant Podcast called Shared Experience which has a series of episodes showcasing different peoples shared experiences. This is excellent practice for listening to group conversation in English! One that I found particulary relevant to myself was Don't call us Barry Poppins. We're stay-at-home dads.


Lastly, what kind of stories would you tell about yourself? Have you experienced something unique, life changing, inspiring or just funny? Thinking about and telling your own stories is a brilliant way of practice your English, and having your stories already thought out makes them much easier to actually use, when you find yourself in the situation where you want to tell them!

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