[Article] Storytelling Techniques to Improve Listening Comprehension and Engagement-1

Storytelling Techniques to Improve Listening Comprehension and Engagement

The common perception is that serious learning happens only when the nose is buried in a textbook. Yet, the focus on rote learning leaves children disengaged and struggling to retain information.

The solution? Storytelling –– a powerful technique that encourages active participation, fosters listening comprehension and improves student engagement. 

Let's understand how.

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is a way of conveying information through engaging narratives that capture children's interest and imagination.

This approach makes learning enjoyable and memorable for children, turning educational content into an interactive and engaging experience. 

Whether through books, oral storytelling, or digital media, the focus is on delivering information in a compelling and accessible manner tailored to children's understanding.

[Article] Storytelling Techniques to Improve Listening Comprehension and Engagement 3

The Impact of Storytelling on Listening Skills

Dr. Rebecca Isbell, an early childhood education speaker, author, and storytelling expert, did a study comparing story reading and storytelling with preschoolers and replicated the same study 20 years later. 

Both studies found that children who had stories told to them understood the stories better, could retell them more effectively, and showed more attention than those who had the stories read to them.

Let's explore why storytelling is a powerful tool for improving listening skills:

  • Better understanding

Storytelling acts as a bridge to better understanding. 

When someone tells a story, they're painting a picture with words. Children can imagine the scenes in their minds, and this helps them understand better.

Secondly, the way stories follow a clear beginning, middle, and end helps our brain logically organize information. So, by creating a clear picture and organizing information, storytelling not only makes things easier to understand but also improves how well one listens.

  • Improved retention

When someone tells children a story, the engaging and vivid nature of the narrative makes it stick in their memory. This means they don't just understand the story at the moment; they remember it for a long time. 

When kids can remember things easily, it makes listening better. They start realizing that they can remember details and information without trying too hard. This is an important skill for being a great listener. 

  • Increased attention

When someone tells kids an enjoyable story, the way the story unfolds with interesting characters and events keeps them interested.

Their brains get a special kind of exercise in paying attention. They start noticing more details and staying focused. So, storytelling not only makes learning fun but also helps children pay more attention and listen closely.

  • Language development

When children listen to stories, they hear words and how sentences are put together. They learn the building blocks of language. 

Apart from remembering new words, they also start to understand how to talk and express themselves better. As they grow up, this practice helps them speak more confidently and understand others well.


5 Storytelling Techniques to Improve Listening Comprehension and Engagement

Understanding how to tell stories effectively can significantly impact a child's listening comprehension and engagement.

Here are five proven storytelling techniques we incorporate into our I Can Read programmes, designed to enhance listening comprehension and engagement in children.

  • Animated narration

Animated narration is when the person telling the story uses lots of expression and energy. They don't just read; they make it exciting by changing their voice and using their hands. 

Happy children engaging in an I Can Read Class

This is effective because it grabs children’s attention and keeps them focused on the story. When the storyteller sounds lively and uses different tones, it makes the story more interesting and helps kids understand and remember it better. 

  • Interactive elements

Using interactive elements in storytelling means getting kids involved in the story. You can do so by asking them questions, making them guess what happens next, or having them do something related to the story. 

This keeps kids interested and participating actively. When they have a chance to join in, it makes the story more enjoyable and helps them understand better. 

  • Visual aids

Visual aids in storytelling involve using pictures, drawings, or even simple props to help tell the story. It's about showing something that goes along with the story. 

This technique works well because it gives kids something to look at, making the story more interesting and helping them understand better. 

When kids see something connected to the story, it acts like a visual guide that supports what they hear. This makes listening easier and more enjoyable for them.

  • Character voices

Character voices in storytelling means changing the way you talk to sound like the characters. When the storyteller uses different voices, it's like the characters come to life, and children can imagine them better. 

Using character voices makes listening more exciting because it's not just one voice telling the story; it's like a mini-play with different characters, making the whole storytelling experience more immersive.

  • Open-ended question

Don’t let storytelling be a one-sided affair. Ask open-ended questions and invite children to share their thoughts and feelings about the story. When you ask open-ended questions, it encourages kids to think and talk more about the story, making it more interesting for them. 

This back-and-forth conversation helps improve listening by keeping kids focused, turning the storytelling time into an engaging and enjoyable experience where they feel a part of the adventure.


Effective storytelling is a game-changer when it comes to children's learning. It goes beyond reading works – it’s about sparking interest, encouraging comprehension, and keeping them hooked.

This is why I Can Read integrates storytelling into reading programmes. 

Teacher reading a book with the students in a I Can Read class.

Whether you choose in-class or online learning for your child, our programmes include a 12-month course designed to foster confident and independent readers. Each class includes:

  • Reading fun and specially-written stories for children
  • Use of a screener tool to aid in the visual blending and reading process
  • Use of diacritical marks from our code card in practical application
  • Spelling tests on key vocabulary

Book a free reading assessment today!