Short stories open up a world of literature to English as a second language (ESL) students. Incorporating short stories into your students' lessons along with other types of authentic reading material exposes them to a range of sentence structures, vocabulary and writing styles. Intermediate ESL students will benefit from regular exposure to short stories in their studies.
How They Help
Students can read short stories out loud to practice their oral and pronunciation skills. Stories also show how to correctly build sentences and use vocabulary. Students develop reading comprehension, which helps them learn new words to use in their everyday English conversations.
Why Use Short Stories
Short stories are generally more engaging and interesting than many other types of writing. They connect with readers on a personal level. Stories are written in different styles and offer comprehension challenges to intermediate students who are well on their way to becoming fluent English speakers.
The stories you choose should be appropriate to your specific class' level of English. Contemporary fiction from the 1930s or later is generally the best to choose. The vocabulary in this era of stories is generally easier to understand than material written earlier. Keep to more mainstream topics in the stories you choose that will not potentially upset readers.
Free Weekly Story
The Library of America is a non-profit publisher that offers weekly e-mails of stories. Stories may be in the form of essays, a poem or perhaps a character sketch. When a short story comes up that your students may enjoy, print it out and copy it for them. Authors are from America's literary heritage.
The ESL Fast website has 365 short stories for intermediate ESL students on its website. They cover a range of topics and titles, including "The Vacuum Cleaner Filter" and "The Starbucks Robbery." At the bottom of each story, choose from a number of exercises to reinforce students' understanding of the story and its vocabulary and work on a grammar point used in the story.
The ESL Monkeys website allows you to search for short stories for your class based on their ages. This helps you identify stories that are appropriate and interesting to the level you teach. You can also translate the webpage for each story into another language, which can be a helpful tool for students if they are studying the stories on their own in their own languages.
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