The role of storytelling on language learning: A literature review

  • Claudio Rezende Lucarevschi University of Victoria
Keywords: stories, storytelling, language skills, improvement, traditional teaching methods


Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of human communication, and much has been said in the literature about its effectiveness as a pedagogical tool in the development of language skills in first (L1) language, and also in a foreign or second language (L2), regardless of learners’ age or background (e.g. Isbell et al., 2004; Cameron, 2001). Furthermore, storytelling is even claimed to be more effective in language teaching than traditional teaching materials, such as textbooks. Indeed, studies generally believe that effectiveness of storytelling relies on the fact that it is fun, engaging and highly memorable, raising learners’ interest in listening to stories, as well as in speaking, writing and reading about them (e.g. Atta-Alla, 2011, Kim, 2010; Wajnryb, 2003). However, the studies in the literature generally lack specifics such as how exactly the effects of storytelling were measured or what specific skills are benefited from the use of storytelling, for example. Furthermore, the vast majority of the studies do not investigate any potential negative impact of the use of storytelling on language learning, giving us the impression that it is a pedagogical instrument that only brings a positive contribution to L2 learning. This literature review aims to provide an overview about what empirical studies say about the effects of storytelling on the development of language skills in L2, how storytelling compares to other teaching methods in its effectiveness, and 3) identify gaps in the current literature that should be addressed by future research. Addressing these questions will provide researchers and teachers with a clearer understanding about the role of storytelling in the language classroom, and, consequently, help them improve their teaching skills.


Author Biography

Claudio Rezende Lucarevschi, University of Victoria
Department of Linguistics