The Effects of Digital Storytelling on Narrative Writing Skills. How are Digital Tools Used in Classrooms?

Hausarbeit, 2021

14 Seiten, Note: 1,7


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Digital Tools

3. Digital Storytelling in the foreign Language Classroom

4. Analysis

5. Conclusion

6. Literature

1. Introduction

At the beginning of the 20th century, a radical change was perceived and commonly pinpointed on film and other media for recording and reproducing ‘life'. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, we feel the impact that digital technology and media have on our lives, from personal communication and new forms of entertainment to a radically globalized world.

(Freisleben, Grauer, & Ross, 2009, p. 7)

As mentioned above the world today has significantly changed in the past 20 to 25 years due to digitalization and globalisation. Children, Teenagers and young adults have become a digital generation. Young people all around the world are exposed to digital media at an early age today.

They come to school with experiences, interests, affinities, and skills uniquely enabled by new media, and engaging them in classrooms requires new learning of teachers. (Mahiri, 2011, p. 1)

The classroom and teachers have to evolve with changes coming up throughout every generation. Today in the year 2021 Digital tools have almost become a standard in modern classrooms and homes all over the world. But what are digital tools in general? How are they used in classrooms and why are they so important in these times?

Further, this paper aims to examine what the impacts of digital storytelling on narrative writing skills are. If we go back in for about 30 years, we will find ourselves in a time where computers, mobile phones, tablets and TV's as we know them today, were a mere futuristic thing. Computers did weigh a lot more than the Laptops and Notebooks we can easily put in our backpacks today. In addition, you have to say that mere private computers were really much more expensive than they are today and not many people were able to buy one for themselves. Learning in schools or studying at Universities was different in a lot of ways comparing it to studying in our digital generation. For example, if you wanted to research something in 1990 you had no other choice but to go to your University and visit the Library. If you were lucky, you found a computer, which allowed you to search for the books you were looking for. Otherwise, you had to search by yourself which could take up a lot of time. Same goes for schools at that time, for example creating worksheets for pupils. If you wanted create a worksheet you had to think for yourself or ask colleagues for help. Also, the preparation wasn't easy because almost no one had a printer at home. Today this work got a lot easier. You find inspiration online and are able to integrate it into your own ideas. You can even use prepared programs and integrate them into your teachings as well.

In times of the Corona or the Covid-19 pandemic, which is sadly going around the world at the moment, these digital tools have become more important than before. Maybe, something positive in this pandemic is, that the tools finally get the attention which they should have gotten some time ago. Most of the teachers we have today are no digital natives, which means they are not as familiar with the digital world in general as the current generation is. So, this Virus maybe has a positive effect on the ‘older generation' of teachers which are now in need for digital expertise and have to start adapting more and more technology to their teaching and their classrooms.

In the following we will have a look at specific examples of what digital tools exactly are and how they fit into a classroom or a digital classroom. Afterwards we will have a closer look at the effects of digital storytelling on the narrative writing skills based on an abstract written by Mohd Azmi Zakaria and Azlina Abdul Azi in the ‘Arab World English Journal' in 20191, concluding in an analysis on the actual situation with the Corona Pandemic having an impact on the whole world.

2. Digital Tools

This chapter wants to take a closer look on digital tools in general and the use of those in the foreign language classroom. Digitalization brings many opportunities for teachers to redesign their lessons, to become more creative and to organize themselves more efficiently. The offer is great. However, many teachers could possibly find it difficult to orientate themselves in the jungle of digital applications on their own. There are a variety of apps for schools and the possibilities for location-independent collaboration in real time results in completely new and diverse application possibilities for teaching. Collecting, processing and comparing content is particularly simplified. But how do teachers recognize what makes a good app and which application is actually useful? Firstly, it is important to say that digital tools in general can be used on mostly all mobile devices such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops and so on. Digital tools are software tools you can install on your device or use directly from the World Wide Web. They try to enhance the efficiency of working together and are mostly not location-bound. You can see them as a whole range of technical devices for recording, storing, processing, displaying and distributing digital information. Further it needs to be explained in which way digital tools can help to advance the foreign language skills. Therefore, we will look at some examples that are an option to be used in a foreign language classroom.

The first example is Padlet, which can be explained as a creative bulletin board. You can create a digital bulletin boards on any topic of your choice and you also have the possibility to share your results online or directly in the language classroom.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

As you can see above Padlet lets you not just “note” things, but also ad creative pictures or animated pictures to your topic of choice. The notes and pictures are fully adjustable, so you or the pupils are able to create a more personal presentation. The main pro argument for Padlet is the possibility to work in a cooperative way, which means you can share Padlets and work in groups on different topics in- and outside the language classroom.

There are lots of other examples to create a digital story such as the one seen above. The next example is a platform called ‘Animaker'. This platform allows the user to create animated short films or clips by himself. Important to add is that they claim to be easy to use which means you don't need any background knowledge about making clips or short films. Most of the commands you need while creating your short film is a PC mouse and the left and right ‘click-button' on your mouse. They use a ‘drag-and-drop' system to add templates, backgrounds, characters etc. Further features of Animaker are: Extensive Facial Expressions, Auto Lip-Sync and Smart Move. While Facial Expressions speak for themselves, Auto Lip-Sync and Smart Move should be explained a bit further. Auto Lip-Sync basically means that you can make your designed character speak with your voice while moving the animated mouth exactly to what you are saying. Smart Move is by far the most interesting feature, because it allows you to animate objects, which you are able to choose from a variety of given objects and make them move the way you want them to move in your own video. This normally needs a highly skilled animator who spend hours animating a moving object into a video. Concerning digital storytelling and the use in a foreign language classroom the most important feature to Animaker is that you are able to work together online on one or more videos at the same time. This makes group works in times of corona not only a lot easier but also a lot more fun for pupils or students and as a teacher you also benefit from it because you are able to watch over the project “live”. Another similar website is Powtoon which basically works the same as Animaker does. You are able to create Cartoons and/or animated short films to tell a story. It is easy to see how easy it is today to access and use digital tools not only for private use, but also for teachings in schools. Most of the products mentioned above are fully free, which makes them even more attractive to use in school teachings. The second reason to use digital tools in schools is that the actual and most likely also the upcoming generation is a digital native generation, which means that they won't be exposed to working with pen and paper but rather with touchscreens, mouse and a keyboard. That doesn't imply that other ways of studying and learning are not as good or worse than using new technological ways to learn, but that teachers need to rethink their teachings and befit them on their pupils/students. The last reason for digital tools and non-location bound working is the actual pandemic, produced by the Covid-19 Virus, we are living in. People are mostly bound to their homes for the past 13 months and this is bad in many ways, but maybe that also lead to rethinking our way of teaching and working. With the help of the digitalisation and the internet we are mostly ready to teach or work from wherever we want to. This should not imply that classrooms and schools are not necessary anymore, but that we are more flexible in what we do, when we do and where we do it. The teaching has gained a lot more flexibility throughout the development of digital tools. Nonetheless it has to be mentioned that socialisation is one of the biggest factors as a part of growing up and even adults are not cut out from that. What is stated above concerning the new possibilities of digital teaching and working should not leave the impression that socialisation, meaning the workplaces and schools are not needed anymore, but rather seeing the positive aspects of encouraging the possibilities of digital working and learning.

3. Digital Storytelling in the foreign Language Classroom

Storytelling, something that exists since thousands of years regarding humanity. It existed before there was paper or writing or even paintings. It was and is a form of proceeding knowledge from one generation to another and is still actively used today. Storytelling is the oldest form of information sharing2. Everyone above the age of 20 remembers reading stories or being read to by adults or parents in kindergarten or primary school. Even writing stories in late primary school or early high school times was always part of the education and is until today. Stories hold a special fascination for people. They convey content and messages on an implicit, subconscious level. A Story event describes an important change in the life situation of a character or the person him- or herself, that is told meaningfully - as a universal property of human experience. Stories and telling stories have another important aspect and that is the fact that the learners experience is valued through the story and puts the learner in the centre of this process. In 2006 Barret implies that learners' stories combine different pedagogic factors such as engagement, reflection for deep learning as well as technology integration and project­based learning.3 Digital storytelling goes a step further than classic storytelling. The classical way consisted of text or audio transmission to get the story across. With today's digital tools you are able to combine more aspects than just audio and/or text. You can create digital stories and underline them by music, photos or a video. Further you can add screenshots if you talk about a digital topic or use other digital medias to get your idea to the people you want to tell it to. Combining these aspects leads to a livelier story making it more attractive to the listener or reader of the story. In 2010 at the University of Houston Robin Yuksel and McNeil verified this assumption. They received 154 responses in their investigation from around the world agreeing with the benefits of digital storytelling concerning the topics: subject skills reflection skills, language skills, higher thinking skills, social and artistic skills.4 This shows the importance of digital storytelling and is another reason why digital storytelling has made its way into the classrooms of today.

The questions remaining is how and in which ways can digital storytelling be integrated in and language and a foreign language classroom and are there benefits to non-native speakers using digital storytelling compared old fashioned learning methods like listening and repeating or simply trying to memorize vocabulary. It is common sense that vocabulary learning especially in a foreign language classroom is inevitable to create a basic language understanding and forming the first approaches to communication. When it comes to second language acquisition (L2) the age plays a significant role on the ability to learn even if it is still highly discussed in what way age defines the ability to learn a second language5. Integrating vocabulary learning into your classroom seems rather simple but how do you integrate digital storytelling? First and foremost are the tools you need to explore digital storytelling with your students. As described in the previous paragraph there are many programs, so called software, which is freely available on the internet, to support your students in creating a digital story. The counterpart to this software is the hardware which includes phones, tablets, computers, etc. All of these devices are highly recommended while creating a digital story. A camera should also be available, so students have the possibility taking pictures and underlining their stories, also giving them the chance to wark more creative. Taking pictures can also be a very significant factor to the understanding of the story, because if a teacher is facing a foreign language classroom, meaning L2 language learners, it helps to underline the intention of the story even if there are mistakes in vocabulary or grammar. You could further argue that students could feel relieved having in mind that their story is understandable no matter what or how many mistakes they make while telling them to the teacher and the class. This should not implicit that students or pupils don't need to stick to correct grammar and correct forms, but rather reducing pressure while performing in front of a larger group, such as a class, which is commonly harder than performing at home while nobody is listening. If you want to record something you need a microphone. Most of the mobile phones are able to record voices and send the recorded data to a laptop or a computer where it can be further worked on or just being integrated into a for example video or slideshow. As a teacher it is important to prepare not only the hardware to enable the students to do their work, but also to examine instructions on what they have to do and how you want to grade it. Grading in connection to this topic means questioning yourself on what part your focus lies, also concerning the instructions you gave to your students.


1 (Zakaria & Aziz, 2019)

2 (Reinders, 2011, p. 1)

3 (Reinders, 2011, p. 1)

4 (Reinders, 2011, p. 1)

5 (Vanove, 2013, p. 13)

Ende der Leseprobe aus 14 Seiten


The Effects of Digital Storytelling on Narrative Writing Skills. How are Digital Tools Used in Classrooms?
Universität Duisburg-Essen
ISBN (Buch)
English Digital Storytelling narrative foreign writing skills
Arbeit zitieren
Max Driesen (Autor:in), 2021, The Effects of Digital Storytelling on Narrative Writing Skills. How are Digital Tools Used in Classrooms?, München, GRIN Verlag,


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