Alan Maley

Using Wisdom Stories in Language Teacher Education

How ancient wisdom, anecdotes and aphorisms can enhance teacher training and development

Wisdom Stories offer absurd, creative, and often nonsensical narratives which work on many levels,  are open to interpretation, and easily spark discussion and debate. Alan Maley shares Wisdom Stories from across the world and suggests a framework for how to use these for teacher training and development.


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The value of using stories in in language education is well-documented, but in Using Wisdom Stories in Language Teacher Education Alan Maley explores how one particular kind of story can be a useful resource for teacher training and teacher development.

Wisdom Stories present narratives which, on the surface level at least, often appear absurd, paradoxical, illogical and nonsensical. They are open to multiple interpretations and are often allegorical, which makes them extremely valuable for sparking discussion and debate. These Wisdom Stories often come from a number of traditional sources from cultures and countries across the world. This includes Zen stories, Sufi stories, Prankster stories such as Anansi stories of West Africa or the Xieng Mieng stories of Laos, fables, Folk stories and, more recently, Urban Myths. They also come from personal anecdotes, poetry, certain categories of jokes, flash fiction and more.

These stories often provoke discussion and debate on issues which touch on life in general. However, they can also illuminate pedagogical and other classroom issues. In this book, Alan Maley shares a wide variety of Wisdom Stories and explores how they can be deployed in teacher training and development. This includes traditional Wisdom Stories alongside stories from published accounts on teaching and stories from ELT colleagues. These Wisdom Stories and the accompanying framework and ideas aim to provoke discussion and exploration and challenge teachers and trainee teachers to think about their own teaching practice.

Using Wisdom Stories in Language Teacher Education is part of the Teaching English series.


The book is designed for:

  • Teacher trainers running teacher training courses across the world
  • Anyone who runs teacher development programmes and groups
  • Teachers and trainee teachers looking to promote discussion about teacher development


Alan Maley began working in ELT with The British Council in 1962. Across 26 years he worked in Yugoslavia, Ghana, Italy, France, China and India. He then became Director-General of the Bell Educational Trust in Cambridge, before taking up the post of Senior Fellow in the Department of English, National University of Singapore. His last full-time post was as Dean and Professor of the Institute for English Language Education, Assumption University, Bangkok, where he set up new MA programmes. Since then, he has occupied a number of visiting professorial posts at Leeds Metropolitan, Nottingham, Durham, Malaysia (UKM), Vietnam (OU-HCMC) and Germany (Universitat Augsburg). He has published extensively and was series editor for the Oxford Resource Books for Teachers for over 20 years. He was a co-founder of The Extensive Reading Foundation, and of The C group: Creativity for Change in Language Education.  He is a past-President of IATEFL, and was given the ELTons Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.


ISBN: 978-1-80388-360-1

Pages: Approx 250

Expected publication date (this may be subject to change): July/August 2024

Part 1.
Wisdom Stories

Part 2. 
Personal Anecdotes



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