Personal Narrative - structure

People who do this module have already done module 1 and 2, or they have demonstrated that they can do it!

We don’t believe in memorising anything. This is counter-productive. Instead we’ve developed a method that works well.


Why do we tell stories?

We concentrate on the story and expressing ourselves rather than the correctness of grammar (although we hope the grammar will be correct!). We tell stories to trick our mind into thinking in German.

What is a story?

A story has a beginning, middle and an end. In a story something happens. Something goes wrong. The story generally gives an introduction in the run up to the crisis. We want to know how you dealt with the crisis and we want to know what happened in the end. 

What should I include in my story?

Tell your story in the first person and say only what happened in time order. Don’t try and be too ‘clever’. This is not a creative writing class. You are not trying to impress anybody (although you may!) You don’t need to be ‘funny’ (although what you say might be funny - you should not worry about it!)

Please avoid an introduction. Avoid making summaries. We require details. Details of how, who, when and where are good. ‘Why’ is less important - let the story speak for itself. 

Avoid making an analysis. Avoid ‘feeling words’. We don’t need you to tell us how you felt - the story should make it clear. 

All of these rules can be broken!

How long should a story be?

The written story will be less than 1 page long. The spoken story, when told perfectly, will be less than 5 minutes. 

What story should I tell?

Consider what makes a ‘good’ story. The more personal and the more challenging the story - the more benefit you will get from telling it in terms of the learning experience and the interaction you receive in return from the group. 

Why do I tell private/personal stories?

You tell stories from your life, because you know these stories and don’t have to memorize anything.

Should I memorize my story?

No, there’s no need to memorize your story. You already know your story because it happened to you.

How do I move from the written story to the spoken story?

From the written story we move to the spoken story through the glossary of verbs and nouns. The instructor will ‘warm you up’ by giving you a set of verbs and nouns in the session from which you will make a sentence from your story. When you are ‘warm enough’ you will tell the story from start to finish. 

What feedback will I get while I’m telling my story

You will tell your story twice in a session. In the first telling you will receive feedback. In the second telling you will receive no feedback - you just tell it. 

Will people ask me questions about my story?

Yes. The instructor will definitely ask you for more information about your story. The other students may ask you questions. You should welcome questions. These are how we move from story to conversation. 

How long do I have to tell my story and deal with questions?

You will get at least 20 minutes to tell your stories and handle questions. After 20 minutes (or so) you will hand over the lead storytelling role to the next storyteller. 

How can I prepare to tell my story?

Writing your story, translating it, and analyzing your story is how you start. A glossary is then produced of nouns and verbs. You can practice telling your story by giving yourself these key words and making sentences from them. You can do this while you are walking down the street, riding your bicycle, or riding on the U-bahn. 

You can practice your story by transforming it into a series of mental pictures (images in your head) and describing to yourself these images. You should not be afraid to speak to yourself! People might think you are crazy, but you are not. 

Where can I find stories from my life?

You can find stories from anywhere. Here are some ideas:

  • a bad trip (probably not drug related - but could be...)

  • something you won and what happened next

  • something you lost and what happened next

  • something or someone you hate and how you got over it or how it affected you

  • getting in a fight

  • getting in an accident

You can always ‘pitch’ me the story. I’ll tell you if it’s appropriate. You might think of a number of possibilities and ‘pitch’ these ideas to the group. The group will tell you the story they want to hear. The story that people want to hear, is not always the story you want to tell!

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Module 3 Storytelling is limited to no more than 4 people. If you want to do this course without having done Module 1 and 2, write to me at: