The English Classroom

A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS

The Situation

Your story do not know the difference between and story and essay.


The Solution

When writing a particular text type, you are often restricted by the text features and language features. Students, sometimes, will get these confused. A common misconception is saying a story is an essay. It might appear to be a misunderstanding of language; however, students need to know that we are talking about different text types.

Each text type has a different purpose. A story is written to entertain. An essay is written to persuade or inform or analyse. Knowing this difference is a fundamental understanding that should not be overlooked.

Comparing different text types is a fantastic way for students to understand the appropriate features.

Ask students to construct a T-chart. On one side, they record what is in a short story. On the other side, they record what is not in a short story. For example, they might suggest that a short story has:

  • metaphors, similes, personification
  • adjectives, adverbs, verbs
  • dialogue, exposition

What is not in a story:

  • A thesis statement
  • persuasive techniques
  • Specialised language
  • Analysis, personal opinion

You might even find some grey areas of text types. Graphs and tables generally do not appear in stories, but some postmodern novels like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime utilise these tools for storytelling. You can also discuss the idea that a letter can be used to tell stories (Epistolary narratives).

There is plenty of direction that you could take this conversation, but try to keep the conversation straightforward. You are simply describing what features are in a short story and what are not. From there you cant teach the finer points of each text type. Display these differences on the wall so that you can refer back to them at a different time.

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