Teacher use of personal narratives in the Japanese university english language classroom

  • Suzanne Bonn

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    While storytelling in conversation has been extensively investigated, much less is known about storytelling in the English language classroom, particularly teachers telling their personal experience stories, termed teacher personal narratives in this study. Teacher personal narratives, a combination of the ancient art of human storytelling and the current practices of teaching, offer an innovative approach to language teaching and learning.
    This thesis examines teacher personal narrative use in Japanese university English language classrooms and is of relevance to both practicing classroom teachers and teacher educators because it explores the role, significance, and effectiveness of personal stories told by teachers. The pedagogical implications which the findings may have for language teaching and learning as well as for teacher education programs are also discussed.
    Four research questions were posed:
    1. What are the characteristics of teacher personal narratives?
    2. When, how, and why do language teachers use personal narratives in the classroom?
    3. What is the reaction of learners to teacher personal narratives?
    4. How do teacher personal narratives provide opportunities for student learning?
    A mixed methods approach using the tradition of multiple case studies provided an in-depth exploration of the personal narratives of four teachers. Data collection consisted of classroom observations and audio recordings, teacher and student semi-structured interviews, student diaries, and Japan-wide teacher questionnaires.
    Ninety-seven teacher personal narratives were analyzed for their structural and linguistic features. The findings showed that the narrative elements of orientation, complication, and evaluation are almost always present in these stories, and that discourse and tense markers may aid in student noticing of the input which can lead to eventual student output. The data also demonstrated that reasons for telling narratives mainly fall into two categories: affectiveoriented and pedagogical-oriented purposes. This study has shown that there are significant differences between conversational storytelling and educational storytelling.
    Date of Award23 Jun 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Aston University
    SupervisorSue Garton (Supervisor)


    • teacher personal narratives
    • narrative structure
    • mixed methods
    • case study

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