https://www.storyboardthat.com/blog/e/esl-with-sbt

ESL Activities with Storyboard That

By Oliver Smith

Find this and other great teacher resources in our Education Blog!


Speakers of other languages all over the world are speaking, reading, listening, writing, studying, and learning English all the time. Visual tools and techniques can be useful in any classroom, especially there are multiple languages spoken or where the teacher and the students do not share a common language. Storyboard That can be used in a range of different activities in all areas of ESL teaching, including some of the potentially drier areas like vocabulary and grammar. It can also be used as a powerful tool for teachers to create resources for their classes.

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Visuals add an extra dimension to communication in classes that can help students understand the material more easily. They can also give students a higher chance of remembering what you are teaching them. Using images alongside text and audio can help fill the gaps in understanding. These visual tools will help all learners in your classroom, not just visual learners. Pictures can cut down on the amount of teacher-talk in a lesson, giving your students more time to do and not just listen. Images can express complex ideas in a much shorter time, freeing up the teacher to do other things. Creating resources takes time, something that teachers don’t always have. Storyboard That has a range of resources you can use straight off the shelf, or quickly adapt to suit the needs of your students, saving you precious time.

Create a Storyboard

As well as being a great tool for teachers to produce visual resources, Storyboard That can also allow students to create their own storyboards. Activities are easy to find and can be adapted and sent to your students through the teacher dashboard in educational accounts. Assessment criteria can also be embedded into the activity using Quick Rubric.

As well as using Storyboard That, use Photos for Class to make visualizations. Photos for Class is a tool that allows students to search through millions of images and incorporate them easily into storyboards. Photos for Class works seamlessly inside Storyboard That: just type your term in the search bar, then drag and drop the image into the storyboard. Images can be easily blended with text, props, and characters to create interesting and descriptive storyboards. There are some great export features that allow you to turn your storyboards into handouts or PowerPoint presentations. After creating a storyboard, teachers and students can even add audio too. The record feature allows for up to sixty seconds of audio to be recorded and saved with the storyboard. Students can create storyboards showing dialogue, then record and save their voice(s) acting out the dialogue.

English has a very rich vocabulary and students need to learn the meaning of many words. What we try and avoid is students making endless lists of words. These lists can be boring and they don’t help students remember the definitions very well. Students can use Storyboard That to create visual definitions of important words. These visual definitions can help your students learn and remember the definitions of key vocabulary. Visuals can be created for a range of different levels and topics.





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You can easily create your own storyboards to create flashcards for your class. You can even use Storyboard That to turn your classroom into a living vocabulary resource with visual labels for items in your classroom.

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English Grammar

Grammar is often students’ least favorite part of English language learning. When not taught well, it can become dry and repetitive. Sometimes lessons can focus too much on the rules and not give students the opportunity to use the grammar. Storyboard That allows students to create language with the target grammar structure while giving them an opportunity to describe the context using visuals.





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Timelines can be really useful as a visual resource for teaching tenses. Students can often get confused with when to use each tense. Using timelines can show the difference between each tense and when they are used.

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English Literature

For some English language learners, try to read in English can be difficult. There are so many benefits to getting your students reading stories in English. They get to learn lots of new vocabulary words and see them in context. Students can often find this a big challenge, depending on the complexity of the language in the story. Storyboard That already has a whole host of different teacher resources for different stories, plays, poems, and novels. These resources can be used to help students access the stories and provide resources to help them analyze the language. These resources are designed for a broad range of levels of English and they are easily customizable. For young students, you could have them read the story of "Cinderella" and complete some activities analyzing the story. For older students, who have a more advanced level, have your students read and analyze a more challenging novel, like George Orwell’s 1984. Students could look at themes and vocabulary from the story.

Writing in English

It is also key that students use the English they have been learning in their classes. Often students find it daunting to write in a different language without any scaffolding or stimulus. Students could search for and find photos using Photos for Class and use these as a starting point for their writing. Have them find an interesting picture and then write or talk about their image. If you want your students to write a story, have them map it out into storyboards first. Alternatively, students can produce storyboards in English with the help of a story starter.

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As well as all these specific ESL resources, there are a wide range of different classroom resources to help your students. These resources are not only useful in the English language classroom, but in all subject areas.


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Get the most out of Storyboard That with these great features!

Classroom Features

During your 14-Day free trial, you and your students will have full access to all the classroom features.

  • Unlimited Storyboards with up to 100 cells
  • Personal Teacher Dashboard
  • Support for Google Sign On

Photos for Class

Easily find that perfect photo thanks to integration with Photos for Class.

  • Millions of Creative Commons photos
  • Automatically cited when used
  • Makes storyboards POP

Powerful Export

After your storyboard is created easily export it to high resolution storyboard cells, PDF or PowerPoint File.

  • Add a storyboard into a larger presentation
  • Upload to your blog, wiki or email
  • Create classroom posters

Presentation Ready

Quickly turn any storyboard into a presentation to receive immediate feedback!

  • One Click Live Slide Shows
  • Export to PowerPoint (Keynote, and Google Slides compatible)
  • Create a new presentation just as easily after edits
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