This section will provide you with some examples and samples of narratives in a variety of forms. From interviews to comics the possibilities are endless. It is important to consult some classic examples like the narrative of Eva Hoffman and others to see what type of exploration into identity is possible.

There are threetypes of autobiographic narratives that can be used in the classroom depending on purpose, context, or proficency level. They are taken from Pavlenko (2007) and are as follows:
1. Diaries or journals:
These can be written spontenously or in response to teachers' requests to find out about a learner's beliefs and feelings.

2. Linguistic biographies and autobiographies.

3. (What did you intend to post here? HL)

Photos and Video:

This video shows how students can create their out autobiographies using photos and video.

Digital Storytelling:

York University Professor Chloƫ Brushwood Rose engaged in digital storytelling called 'coming to learn' for newcomer and low income women.
She not only provides a definition about what digital storytelling is but she also provides pictures, explanations, and links to her research, and of course the women's digital stories.
"In this project, I worked with a method called 'digital storytelling'. This method is functions in several ways: as a practice of community development and community-based education, as a method for gathering data in the form of first-person multimedia narratives, and as a medium for representing learning. In collaboration with two community-based organizations in Toronto - Central Neighbourhood House and the Centre for Community Learning and Development - we conducted two digital storytelling workshops and in-depth interviews with approximately 20 immigrant women were in downtown Toronto." -Chloƫ Brushwood Rose


Here, students can make their own biographies using timelines.

Timelines help students put their 'story' in chronological order and can serve as an outline for their longer writing pieces, or be a narrative in and of itself.

Shadow Plays and Puppets:

For those learners who are refugees or have difficulty expressing themselves two options to create some anonymity are shadow plays and puppets.

Joyce Public School: The use of comics to tell their Coming to Canada: Immigration Stories
Many stories are their parents' or grandparents' journeys but are no less a significant part of a learners' development.


When students are just beginning their English language learning process, it is important to allow them to include use of the language(s) they're most comfortable with. Even more advanced learners may chose to use both and by including certain quotations that are more authentic to them in their home language.


Comics are another method where learners can showcase their narratives. They can be less personal, for example a conversation between two fictional characters discussing general issues about moving to a new country, or a more realistic depiction of themselves and their families before, after and during the move, among a cachet of other possibilities for various scenarios. Comic Life, a program that school board computers have is available to students for free when they're on the school computers, however for a free comic making program that can also be used at learners' homes 'bitstrips for kids' is an easy and interactive software. Teachers can make accounts for their whole class or students can make individual accounts, it's a very flexible website. (class) (individual)

A Narrative?
A Narrative?


Interviews are another way to get students to interact. They can practice creating and asking questions which can be a part of a grammar lesson, since question formation is in the ESL curriculum (grades 9-12) and then they can use those questions with one another as an extension of the question creating process.

Some Sample Questions:

Do you like school? (not a good question generates "yes/no" response)
What are some similarities and differences between the school you attended before coming to Canada with the Canadian school?

Do you have a pet, if so what kind of pet do you have? (simple response of type of pet because of the use of "kind")
What is your family's perspective on having animals in the home as pets?

What do you miss most about your old life? (will generate a single answer due to the word "most")
If you could bring/tranfer elements of your previous country into Canadian life what would they be and how would they improve life in Canada?