Story Grammar

by Aarti Thomas

About Story Grammar for ESL Students

(Pictured, Robotic Godzilla attacks the electric football field, I hate it when that happens. Photo by Richard Baladad, at great personal risk)

It can be argued that grammar is better understood if the words are individually understood. A story is a narrative and written discourse. While grammar is the "study" part of English which determines how different words come together to form sentences.

In terms of the grammar of stories, - grammar means language elements.

So the phrase story grammar is basically the elements of a story and includes the title, author, setting, main character, conflicts and resolution, ements and conclusion. It could also include the initiating event, internal response, attempt, consequence and reaction.

ESL students benefit a lot from learning and understanding story grammar. They find it easier to understand the passages they read because of its frameworks.

Simple stories are reading material we most often present to young children. Those with experience in reading or whose families emphasize reading can understand the basic structure of the stories and appreciate them.

Students who have little experience with stories because of their family situation and other students with physical disabilities that affect reading, including those with learning disabilities, hearing or speech deficits, may benefit from explicit instruction in story grammar.

Propp, Levi-Strauss, and Bartlett originally did research on narrative structure. In 1975, Rumelhart organized the information into story grammar and focused on cause and effect.

In 1977, Mandler and Johnson used story grammar in the form of tree diagrams for a more in-depth diagram of relationships between the story elements. This approach was then simplified by Beck and McKoewn in 1981.

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