Sharon Ahlquist

Teaching Young Language Learners Through Stories

Using stories and children’s fiction to motivate your primary learners and improve learning outcomes

Teaching Young Language Learners Through Stories encourages teachers to make more extensive and creative use of stories and fiction in the second language classroom by providing practical tools supported by theoretical background.


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Stories and literature have an important role to play in the second language classroom, and Teaching Young Language Learners Through Stories provides a theoretical and practical approach to incorporating them in your teaching.

Many teachers use stories in their teaching. That might be younger learners listening to stories or older children reading fiction or extracts for themselves. Working with stories and literature enables the teacher to expose learners to English in ways which are engaging, resonating and meaningful, and which stimulate the imagination and creativity. Stories can appeal to all age groups, and through work which is multimodal can support learning of all proficiencies. Teaching Young Language Learners Through Stories provides theoretical support alongside practical activities to explain why and how teachers can use stories.

Each chapter explores how different genres of literature can contribute to second language development, alongside practical examples. These genres include picturebooks, graded readers, graphic novels fairytales, novels and short stories. Within each chapter, the theoretical approach is first explored in more depth. It considers the characteristics of young language learners, how they learn, and how stories can provide an alternative to working with a textbook while still addressing required syllabus content and learning objectives. Then, practical examples guide the reader in using these different genres in their own teaching practice.

Whilst the book primarily offers guidance and relevant suggestions for students aged 6-13, each chapter also considers how the principles can be used with older learners and adults.

By using this title, teachers will:

  • understand the theoretical support (from the fields of second language acquisition and general education) and the links between theory and practice for using stories and fiction in the second language classroom;
  • learn practical ways in which they can make fuller use of stories and fiction;
  • become able to create their own tasks and explain how these tasks contribute to second language development in their learners.

This book is part of the popular Teaching English series, which bring methodology and practical ideas to your classroom.


The book is designed for teachers across the world who teach young learners and young teenagers, whether ELT teachers or teachers who teach English as part of a primary or secondary curriculum. Whether you are experienced with teaching younger learners or doing it for the first time, there are plenty of ideas to help!

This book is also ideal for trainee teachers or those just starting out, to equip them with creative ideas for the classroom. Finally it will be extremely useful for teacher educators and teacher trainers who deliver training on teaching English to young learners or young teenagers.


Sharon Ahlquist has been teaching English to students of all ages for over 35 years across Europe, with a particular interest in teaching children and teenagers. She also teaches on both pre-service and in-service courses for teachers of primary and secondary students. She has a Masters and Doctor of Education degree in teaching English as a second/foreign language and applied linguistics, and has worked as an examiner on both Cambridge English Exams (speaking) and IELTS (speaking and writing). Stories and literature are the focus of Sharon’s classroom-based research, and the findings of her studies inform her teaching.


ISBN: 978-1-80388-340-3

Pages: 128

Publication: April 2024



  1. Picturebooks
  2. Graded Readers
  3. Graphic novels
  4. Fairy tales
  5. Novels and short stories
  6. Working with syllabi
  7. Using a Storyline approach



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