LANGUAGE FOCUS: Improve your English in Context
With over 15 years of experience, English teacher and consultant Paul Ponce (aka StoryPaul) created a method that combines experience, with storytelling and taking ownership of one's own learning.
The Story Method is a contextual approach to learning the English language. Find out what it's all about.
Below, you can READ the Video Transcript and follow what Paul says:
Hi, and welcome! I’m Story Paul and this is my first official video. So, I’d like to tell you a little bit
I’m an English teacher and consultant. I teach private students and I also teach groups, online. And
I've had a long experience working with companies and university students; executives from all
over the word.
I really enjoy working with language. And today, I would like to tell you about the method that I
use if you study with me.
THE STORY METHOD
The Story Method is a contextual approach to learning the English language.
Now, when we talk about context, you may have heard people say that context is king. Right? It’s
got the crown. Not content, but context. So, what is context? (See definition in the video)
In a lot of English programs, people learn to study endless rules. And they learn those rules out of
context. And of course, the result is not very surprising.
So what if we could learn language in a way that is based on experience? Wouldn’t that be great?
Kind of the way a child learns to speak. The way an immigrant learns a new language.
I know a lot about this because my family is not from the United States. And I’ve watched how
they struggled. But I’ve also watched how they learned things in context.
So what if students could learn language in context? So they would learn to apply the rules,
pronounce correctly, grow vocabulary, naturally. But most importantly, they would be able to
speak English confidently in real situations.
Does that mean without making mistakes? No, it doesn’t mean without making mistakes. We all
make mistakes. As we learn more we make less mistakes. But making mistakes is part of being
human. So don’t be so afraid to make mistakes. And don’t be so crazy about knowing all the rules.
Your main concern should be to be fluent and to speak well in a context. And that’s what we do
THE STORY METHOD: How does it work?
The Story Method: Story, Time, Objective, Recognition and You. And of course, the nice thing
about this is that it’s adapted to each individual student.
Step number one is called the Story. We need to understand what’s going on, what the story is all
about in a lesson. It doesn’t matter if it’s business English, travel English; or maybe you want to
have conversational English, where in each different class, we’ll focus on a topic.
Whatever it is, each class, each unit of learning has to have a story behind it.
Storytelling is powerful. And I teach the topic in a story kind of way because when you think of
situations in terms of a story, you remember them more. Storytelling is part of who we are as
Storytelling has been with us for hundreds, thousands of years of human history. It’s a natural
form of human communication. We naturally tend – when we explain something that happened –
to tell it in the way of a story.
The next thing that is very important is time. When we communicate in a new language, it’s super
important to know: Are we talking about the past? Are we in the present? Or are we talking about
the future? Right?
Whatever the context of the day is, whatever the lesson of the day is, we’ll work through the time
in that context.
It’s very important for students to know the objective of the lesson. So before we start: We define
what the story is about. We define the different times we’re going to be dealing with. And next,
we understand what the objective is. What are we trying to achieve and learn? So that you can
recognize that word, that expression, that sound, that vocabulary, when somebody else produces
Recognition, right? It’s like those movies where the witness of a crime is called by the police to
recognize the criminal. You know… the guy that robbed the bank.
MOVIE SCENE*: Paul is behind a window, as a group of suspects lines up in front of a wall. He is trying to recognize the one that committed a crime.
PAUL: No, it’s not that one. He’s got a beard. (Finally recognizes the bad guy) That’s the one!
*Film footage: courtesy of “The Usual Suspects”
So that’s what you've got to do. You've got to be able to recognize the language structure that you
know, used by somebody else.
You are a part of this story. In fact, you are the protagonist. This is how you relate to the story, to
the context we’re learning about. It’s how you relate to the time and if you understand it; and if
you can use it. It’s how you relate to the objectives. They have to be your objectives. You have to
You have to own the language, so that you can recognize it when you hear it. And you really have
to make this course, this lesson, part of your life, part of your journey.
The most important thing for me as a teacher; and honestly, the most important thing for you
should be to be able to use this beyond the classroom in real situations.
I’m your coach here too. I’m here to provide guidance, support and encouragement. If you want to
know more about it, send me a message, and we can talk in a 30 minute hangout.
So thanks so much for your time and I look forward to meeting you.