Teaching About Folktales to ELLs

Teaching About Folktales to ELLs

Teaching about folktales to ELLs

Teaching About Folktales to ELLs

Folktales included fairy tales, fables, and legends. They were traditionally passed down by word of mouth. Folktales are great windows into the culture and values of the the group of people telling them. Fables have a lesson the the reader is meant to learn. Fairy tales and legends have more subtle lessons about good and evil. Cultures around the world often have their own version of a common folk tale. Here are some ideas for teaching about folktales to ELLs:

Compare and Contrast Different Versions of a Folktale

Comparing and contrasting different versions of folktales is a great opportunity to include versions from countries around the world. Many ELLs will be excited to read a story that takes place in a country that they or their family are from or includes a language that the speak.

Little Roja Riding Hood– This retelling of Little Red Riding Hood takes place in New Mexico. The characters code switch between English and Spanish throughout the book. There is a glossary of Spanish words included but there are also strong context clues to determine their meaning.

The Ghanaian Goldilocks– This retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears takes place in Ghana. It tells the story of a mischievous young boy and his adventures around town.

Here is an audio version of the story. 


Compare and Contrast Characters from Different Folktales

There are many similarities between characters in folktales. Fairy tales often have a hero, mischief maker, and trouble maker. Looking for similarities and differences in a well known story is another way to practice this skill.

Provide Word Banks

Word banks are a helpful scaffold for ELLs. When students are comparing and contrasting different fairy tales a word bank can help ELLs by reminding them of key vocabulary terms to use. When students are retelling a folktale a word bank is also helpful to help them use the characters and important vocabulary from the story.

Set up a Retelling Center

Folktales are a great topic for a retelling center. There are many premade props that you can add or you can have students create the materials themselves. In a retelling center students can reenact the story, practice their speaking skills, and have fun playing.

Finger puppets are easy to story props.

This set of Wooden Finger Puppets is made of wood and cloth. It has the characters already dressed up as those from common fairy tales.     This set of Finger Puppets has more generic characters with people and animals.

Use Pictures of Story Events for Speaking and Writing

Simple pictures are a helpful way for students to teach about folktales to ELLs. They are great for students to speak and write about. I have sets of premade retelling cards, graphic organizers, and writing pages available.

Fairy tale retelling cards


This set includes images from fairy tales and fables. Student can use them to sequence and retell the story. The pictures will help them remember story events and provide support for ELLs with low language levels.

Fairy tale graphic orgnaizer

Students take pictures and sequence into the order of the story events. Then they use the provided space in the graphic organizer to write down what happened in the story. The graphic organizer helps students to only write down the important details from the story.

Fable graphic organizers and writing page

Pictures are a helpful reminder on this writing page.

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