Retelling a Story Like a Pro: Tips for Teachers and Students

Retelling stories is a fundamental skill that plays a critical role in language development, reading comprehension, and overall communication. It involves the ability to recall and convey the events, characters, settings, and themes of a narrative in an organized, engaging, and coherent manner. Retelling stories can be challenging, especially for young learners or those with language difficulties. However, with the right guidance, practice, and strategies, anyone can become a proficient storyteller. This article will provide tips and techniques for teachers and students to help them retell stories like a pro.

Why is Retelling Important?

Retelling stories is a complex cognitive and linguistic process that requires multiple skills, such as memory, comprehension, inference, sequencing, and vocabulary. Research has shown that retelling stories can enhance students’ reading and writing abilities, oral language proficiency, and social-emotional development. According to a study by Baker, Scher, and Mackler (1997), “Retelling has been identified as one of the most critical literacy skills because it encompasses a range of cognitive and metacognitive processes essential for comprehension and communication” (p. 316). Retelling also fosters students’ creativity, imagination, and critical thinking skills by encouraging them to analyze and interpret the story’s meaning and message.

Tips for Teachers

1. Choose Appropriate Texts

Selecting suitable stories for retelling is crucial for engaging students and facilitating their comprehension and retention. Teachers should consider the students’ age, language level, interests, and cultural background when choosing texts. The stories should be diverse, inclusive, and relevant to the student’s lives and experiences. Additionally, teachers should provide opportunities for students to select and share their favorite stories and incorporate their personal interests and perspectives into the retelling.

2. Model and Scaffold the Retelling Process

Modeling and scaffolding the retelling process can help students develop the necessary skills and confidence to retell stories independently. Teachers can use think-aloud, graphic organizers, and sentence starters to guide students through the retelling process and provide feedback and support. Teachers can also gradually release responsibility to the students by gradually reducing the amount of support and encouraging them to take ownership of their learning.

3. Provide Opportunities for Practice and Feedback

Retelling stories is a skill that requires practice and feedback to improve. Teachers should provide ample opportunities for students to practice retelling stories and receive feedback from peers, teachers, and self-reflection. Teachers can also use rubrics and checklists to assess students’ retelling skills and provide specific feedback on areas for improvement.

4. Integrate Technology and Multimedia

Technology and multimedia can enhance the retelling experience by providing visual and auditory support, promoting engagement and creativity, and facilitating collaboration and sharing. Teachers can use digital storytelling tools, such as Animoto, StoryMap, and Adobe Spark, to create and share multimedia retellings. Teachers can also encourage students to use technology and multimedia to create their own retellings, such as podcasts, videos, or comics.

Tips for Students

1. Focus on the Key Elements of the Story

When retelling a story, it is essential to focus on the key elements, such as the characters, setting, plot, and theme. Students should identify and describe these elements in a logical and coherent sequence to ensure that the retelling is easy to follow and engaging. Students can use graphic organizers or outline templates to help them organize and structure their retellings.

2. Use Descriptive and Varied Language

Retelling a story is not just about conveying the events but also about creating a vivid and engaging experience for the listener. Students should use descriptive and varied language to bring the story to life and engage the audience. They can use sensory languages, such as sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, to describe the setting and characters. Students can also vary their sentence structure and use literary devices, such as similes, metaphors, and personification, to add depth and richness to their retelling.

3. Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a crucial skill for retelling stories effectively. Students should pay attention to the details of the story and ask themselves questions, such as “What happened next?” or “How did the character feel?” They should also listen to feedback from peers and teachers and use it to improve their retelling skills. Active listening not only improves the quality of the retelling but also enhances students’ comprehension and critical thinking skills.

4. Use Visualization and Imagination

Visualization and imagination are powerful tools for retelling stories. Students should use their imagination to create mental images of the characters, settings, and events of the story. They can also use visualization techniques, such as drawing or acting out scenes, to help them remember and retell the story. Visualization and imagination not only make the retelling more engaging but also help students retain and internalize the story’s meaning and message.


Retelling stories is a valuable skill that promotes language development, reading comprehension, and communication. Teachers can use appropriate texts, model and scaffold the retelling process, provide opportunities for practice and feedback, and integrate technology and multimedia to help students become proficient storytellers. Students can focus on the key elements of the story, use descriptive and varied language, practice active listening, and use visualization and imagination to enhance their retelling skills. By following these tips and strategies, students can become confident and effective storytellers who can convey the essence and beauty of a story to others.

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