National Writing Project

Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning

By: Judith Rance-Roney
Publication: Essential Teacher
Date: March 2009

Summary: Rance-Roney, a teacher with the Hudson Valley Writing Project, explains digital storytelling, discusses its strengths in promoting literacy, and, by documenting her own multilingual classroom work, suggests a path for getting started with this technology.


Excerpt from Article

Digital stories are most effective for language learning when they are embedded in a language-rich curriculum that provides varied and abundant opportunities for learners to acquire new vocabulary and structures. Indeed, there is a danger in the use of this fascinating technology: Teachers must remember that the production of a digital story itself is not the goal but only one of several vehicles through which students can practice language and showcase what they can do with it.

However, embedded in the DS process is deep language acquisition and meaningful practice. During the production of the story, learners must write a complete narrative, rewrite/reform the message of the narrative into a short script, speak (record) the script using accurate English, listen to the recording, judge whether or not it can be understood, and re-record the script to perfect it. Later, they choose images or video clips that are understood across cultures and audiences. The essence of the digital story is, of course, the quality of the storytelling itself. Students need to learn the form of the narrative and how to tell a good story that engages the audience.

About the Author Judith Rance-Roney is assistant professor in the TESOL teacher education program at the State University of New York at New Paltz and has taught ELL students both in the United States and abroad. She is a member of the Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz and is on the English Language Learner Leadership Team of the National Writing Project.

Copyright © 2008 Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Rance–Roney, Judith. 2008. "Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning." Essential Teacher 5 (1): 29–31.

Download the Article

PDF Download "Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning"

Related Resource Topics

© 2023 National Writing Project