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storyasking is a game we can play to share language learning.. we can storyask to teach language we know.. and we can also play to learn new language.. we call it storyasking because we don't tell stories, we ask stories.. when we storyask, we're not sure what's gonna happen in a story, but chances are we're gonna have fun, feel good and learn each other's language.. how?



more than anything, we learn because we're having fun.. we're not bored by studying grammar or tired old stories.. our stories are alive; they've never been heard before.. and they're about us.. we learn new language just like we learned language we already know.. with input we understand and care about.


storyasking works with a key ingredient: input.. input from a storyasker who knows the language.. and cares enough to make input meaningful to players who want to learn.. why is input key? how make input meaningful?

does everyone get it?

if asking any story, make sure everyone understands all the words.. if players don't know what language even says, how can anyone expect to follow any story? so if you wanna help players learn new language, help them learn to hear it and understand what it says and know what it means.. here are some rules:

does anyone care?

understandable input, if boring, is boring.. to really connect learners with language, input must be meaningful, interesting, funny, sad, wise, truthful, whatever.. a good way to connect with players is to ask how they feel about stories or life in general.. ask about feelings..

who cares?

who is getting the input? what are their names? what do they like to do? ask them to write their name and draw a picture of what they like to do.. circle with balls.. ask them to answer a questionnaire.. it's hard to connect with anyone or make anything meaningful if you don't learn who they are.. the only way to find out is to ask..

ask real questions

ask real questions to learn who players are and what they like.. real questions can lead to cute answers, sad stories, wise words like sayings or proverbs, etc.. whatever it takes to make input meaningful.. it's usually about feelings.. real questions can even get kinda personal like:

  • what do you want?
  • what don't you want?
  • what's up with this questionnaire?
  • what's really going on here?

by asking real questions, you make stories that players care about.. so they want to know more.. good stories connect with our feelings.. the more we connect with stories, the more meaningful the language is to us.. when stories ask us what we love and hate, what we want and fear, we connect with the stories and we learn from them..

ask useful questions

before any question or story can be meaningful, it must first be understandable.. so practically speaking, players should first learn practical questions to confirm comprehension:

  • understand? (or get it? or OK?)
  • do you care?
  • what did i just say?
  • what does _______ mean?
  • can you repeat?
  • slower?

as players work with useful questions and real questions, they are more able to interact with the story and take an active role in their own learning of a language..

ask good questions

good questions can be simple but not easy to answer.. what's it all about, alfie? really good questions really make you think.. if you wanna "think" in a language, try thinking about good questions..

circle them questions

questions can "circle" around any new language.. "circling" questions ask around a blob of new language over and over in slightly new contexts.. questions and more questions.. questions that circle around new language confirm that all players understand the new language.. and how the new language changes the story.. after answering enough questions, players start to speak a little in language..


interaction in language is where the action is.. if a player isn't answering questions or playing a role, then a player is out of the game.. the more a player wants to learn, the more they play.. with answers.. to all kindsa questions.. it's best if all players answer all questions all the time.. always..


if you're playing, you first learn to react, with feeling.. reacting to the story.. your reactions tell the storyasker either that you get it.. or not.. players start with four or five little words to react, with feeling, to any story:

  • AAH!: say "aah!" when you understand that something new happens in the story
  • OH NO!: say "oh no!" when you understand something bad happens in the story
  • OK!: say "ok!" when you get it: stop the circling and go the story
  • HUH??!!!: ask huh? or say help! when you don't understand something in the story
  • GRRR and HMMM and DOH etc soon, but get to know above reactions first..

if you want to learn the language, the most important question you can ask is "huh?".. if you don't ask for help, you don't get what you want.. you feel lost and feel bad.. not good.. but it's easy to change that.. just ask for help!


after you practice reacting, learn to answer questions.. the storyasker asks as few questions as possible, so players focus on really learning.. better dig deep than wide.. when we really know language, we can use what we know to learn more language.. here are some simple answers to start with:

  • YES! or NO!
  • what is it? IT IS _________!
  • who? (NAME!)
  • why? (BECAUSE!)

later players can learn how to answer which, where, when, how many and other questions.. any storyaskers can ask any question.. but best start with as few questions and answers as possible..


as you learn how to answer questions, you learn how to ask questions.. when you learn how to ask questions in a new language, you have the keys to learn more and more of the language.. all you have to do is ask!


when you learn by storyasking, you're like to learn how to teach with storyasking.. the more language you know, the more you can teach.. it's pretty easy: repeat, learn to listen, answer, ask questions, ask a story, make sure everyone gets it, have fun and GO SLOW!..


if you wanna learn language and play storyasking, you don't just sit back.. you play the game.. you are a part of it.. you react, you answer, you ask.. you learn how to learn language you want to learn.. it takes some work to learn language, but it can be so much fun it really just feels like play..

happy ending

to get anything done, it often helps to keep your eyes on the prize.. to begin with the end in mind.. ask yourself: what do you want?

in a game, players wanna win.. in some games, everybody wins! storyasking is about learning more language.. so we can communicate with more people.. who loses? the more we can communicate, the more opportunities we have to make friends.. the more friends we make, the more people we can play with and the more we can learn together..


storyasking isn't about speaking exactly perfectly correctly at first.. that comes later.. even if mistakes are made, if we focus first on communication, we learn from the best teachers of all.. the natives:

"In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers 
who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful." 
-- Dr. Stephen Krashen


it took time to learn your first language.. it takes time and practice to learn any language.. trying to speak perfectly from the first step can cause potentially great communicators to feel bad and stop.. it feels much better to forgive mistakes and just focus on communication.. the more you communicate and read in any language, the more you will learn that language.. like they say: "practice makes perfect" or maybe "mejor mearse de risa y no de prisa"..

around the world

storyasking ain't only about learning language in some classroom.. it's about learning language out on the playground, on the street and especially online on the internet.. meeting people, sharing stories and learning language can be so much fun.. if you want to learn language, try to use it everywhere you can! have fun with the language and make friends with it.. has this page with some links..

storyasking is a free child of TPRS.. TPRS is an awesome tool used by thousands of language teachers.. storyasking wants to bring TPRS to more language learners, especially young language learners using the OLPC XO..

some kinda storyasking game might be able to integrate with WiXi and Scratch..

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