Do you often share stories with your friends?
What kind of stories do you share? Maybe they’re about interesting things that happened to you while travelling. Maybe they’re about embarrassing things that happened to you at school or work.
But telling stories can be difficult, especially in another language. Your story needs to be related to the conversation topic. You also need to keep the listeners interested.
Story telling is great for language learners. It can help build your confidence and fluency. It can also help you build friendships with people from different countries. So, what can you do to tell stories well?
One idea is is to prepare your stories in advance. It can be difficult to think of stories during conversations, because the topics often change quickly. Take some time to prepare some short stories before you need them. You can even practice telling them by yourself.
What should your stories be about? Think about the kinds of conversations you are likely to have in English. Also, think about where you will likely have these conversations. For example, at dinner parties people often talk about food, travel, movies, and TV shows.
When telling your stories, try to connect them to the conversation topic. Maybe you can start your story by linking it to the previous speaker’s story. For example, to start your story you can say “I haven’t been there but I went to [place] the other day…” or “A similar thing happened to me…” You can also use questions to get listener’s attention at the beginning, for example “Guess what happened to me?”
After starting your story, your next job is to keep the listeners interested. One way is to use phrases such as “Guess what happened next?” or “What really surprised me was…” Also, try to maintain eye-contact with the listeners. Maybe you can also use gestures or even change your voice for different people in your story. Remember to keep it simple and not to speak for too long.
Maybe you’re nervous, but try to be confident when telling your story. Smile. At least show people that you’re interested in your story. Don’t worry about using perfect English or making mistakes. Your stories will always get better with practice.
Once you get some story-telling practice maybe you can then move on to telling jokes 😉
People always like it when you show you’re interested in their stories, too. Try to look at the story tellers. Use language such “Really?”, “No way!”, or “You’re joking!” to show you’re actively listening.