Fun Short Stories for ESL Students
Summary: Short Stories for ESL Students
Learning to speak English through listening to native English speakers is a quick and easy way to learn. Today we have responded to several requests from ESL (English as a second language) students who liked the last ESL short story which you can find here: https://adeptenglish.com/2019/04/29/short-stories-in-english-for-students/
Although it was ESL students who asked for this podcast for their English listening test, it will be of value to anyone who wants to learn to speak English fluently. We designed the Adept English learning system to make learning English as efficient as possible, so listen to today's podcast lesson and find out why this way of learning is just better than traditional English lessons.
Why use a story? Humans are always ready to learn by listening to stories, it’s how mankind has survived for so long, we pass key survival information as stories to our children and they pass that onto their children. Our brains are always ready to treat a story as more important information. Humans store story based information in our longer term memory so you get much more learning value out of listening to your English information in the format of a story.
So listening to a story spoken by a native English speaker is a great way to store English vocabulary and pronunciation information you will need to speak English fluently.
Audio Transcript: English Listening: The UK Is Getting Fat
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. This is our Monday podcast, so it’s the slightly longer one and today we’re going to do another of those Short Stories for ESL Students so that you can practise your English listening skills. Listen to this podcast a number of times, and notice how much more of it you can understand on the second or the third listen. This is really good for your learning – and you get more than one chance at understanding it. So it’s a little better, even at this stage perhaps than listening to English conversation. You just get once chance there! So it’s good practice for understanding English. And if you listen right to the end, there’s a little extra idea for you to practice with.
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A little bit about Adept English Method and our Courses
So let’s do another of those Short Stories for ESL Students which will help prepare you for English language tests, if you’re doing them. And even if you’re not about to take a test, it will give you something different to listen to. I’ll tell the story, but I’ll also stop along the way, Adept English style and do the explanations of the more difficult words as I go along. The purpose of this is so that you can continue to think in English while you listen. What we don’t want is you translating because it stops your progress! Using a dictionary or translating, or even Google Translate – that’s a bad thing! You need to stay in the ‘English part of your brain’! So I’ll explain the more difficult words, as we go along. And you only need to look things up as a last resort. That means the last thing you do to try and fix something.
This is the way that we work in Adept English, and it’s very helpful to your language learning. So if you like this way of learning, where I explain as we go, then buy Course One: Activate Your Listening, because this course works in exactly the same way. There are vocabulary recordings, which is like a tutorial, like a one-to-one lesson with me and they help you understand the difficult words, but all in English, to stop you from translating! And instead of it coming in bits and pieces, like the podcasts, if you buy the course, you get over 5 hours of listening material to help you improve your English. And you can download it straight away. Great stuff!
The Story of Little Red Riding Hood
OK, so what about the story of Little Red Riding Hood? That can be our Short Story for ESL Students today. There are different versions of this story, but the story is a very old European fairy tale, so if you’re from Europe, you probably know it. If you’re not from Europe, it’s a classic!
So, what about the title if the story? ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. Well, ‘little’ is OK, it’s about a little girl. Red is a colour, R-E-D, the colour of the hood, that she wears. So a hood, which is spelt ‘H-O-O-D’ is a covering for your head. If you have a jacket and it has a hood, that’s the part of the jacket that goes over your head. You might use your hood, if it was raining to stop your hair getting wet. And here it’s a ‘riding’ hood, that’s from the verb ‘to ride’, R-I-D-E. So ‘to ride’ usually means to ride a horse. It’s what my son and I do on a Sunday morning – or we try at least. We’re just learning, we’re not experts so I’m waiting for the time that I’ve fallen off the horse and to see whether I want to carry on, once that’s happened! Or whether I’m too scared! Anyway that’s the meaning of the title, Little Red Riding Hood. So this is a little girl who’s called after something that she wears. Presumably she has an ordinary name like Jane or Sarah, but we never find that out!
So OK, the story starts where Little Red Riding Hood lives in a forest with her mother. And the grandmother of Little Red Riding Hood lives on the other side of the forest – presumably that’s the mother of Red Riding Hood’s mother? Anyway, the mother asks Little Red Riding Hood to take a basket of food to the grandmother, because the grandmother is ill, she’s sick, she’s in bed. But the mother says ‘Don’t stop along the way!’. Well, that’s ominous – ‘ominous’ means a warning, and a sign in a fairytale, something bad is going to happen here!
Little Red Riding Hood = LRRH
So LRRH goes though the forest, happily, picking flowers for grandmother as she goes. But...of course, in the story there is a wolf. Now a wolf, W-O-L-F is an animal. Wolves, notice the plural is different, W-O-L-V-E-S. Wolves used to be wild, all over Europe, but they’re pretty rare nowadays. You’ll find them in Canada though. So basically, it’s the animal that all dogs are descended from. Wolves are fierce and they will eat you, if they get chance. But they’re also very beautiful. Of course, the wolf in a fairy tale is always the bad guy. The wolf in a fairy tale is the symbol of all that is bad. Sometimes in a fairy tale it’s a fox that’s the bad guy, but more often a wolf. So the wolf starts a conversation with LRRH, and he’s usually quite charming and polite on the surface, just to make him more frightening, more scary. ‘Good morning, my dear! And where are you going on this fine morning?!’ says the wolf. And so on. What happens next, is that the wolf finds out where LRRH is going – and he makes sure that he gets there first. He leaves LRRH in the wood and goes very quickly to the grandmother’s house. The story varies somewhat at this point – that means that there are different versions. In some, we find out later that he’s put grandmother into a cupboard. In other versions of the story, grandmother manages to hide under the bed. In the older versions of the story, certainly the ones I was told, when I was a little girl - the wolf has eaten grandmother. And by the time LRRH arrives at grandmother’s cottage, she’s already INSIDE the wolf! But because it’s a children’s story, grandmother isn’t dead – somehow she survives this! The Grimm Brothers, that’s G-R-I-M-M, the Grimm Brother’s versions of the fairy stories are usually a bit more horrifying, a bit more shocking like this!
So course, the wolf puts on grandmother’s bonnet. So a bonnet, B-O-N-N-E-T is another type of hat, that old ladies would have worn a long time ago. So another covering for your head. Great vocabulary for you in this Short Stories for ESL Students – remember ‘a hood’ is attached to your jacket and goes over your head and ‘a bonnet’ is what an old lady might wear! Anyway, the wolf also puts on grandmother’s glasses – her spectacles – the things she uses to be able to see. So LRRH arrives at grandmother’s house and comes to see her grandmother in the bedroom. Strangely, and because it’s a fairy story, LRRH doesn’t recognise that it’s the wolf lying in grandmother’s bed. But the conversation between them in the story is always the same. LRRH suspects something is wrong, something is not as it should be. ‘What big eyes you have grandmother!’ says LRRH. And the wolf replies ‘All the better to see you with!’. And then LRRH says ‘What big ears you have, grandmother!’ And the wolf says ‘All the better to hear you with!’. Then LRRH says ‘Grandmother, what big teeth you have!’ And it is at this point that the wolf reveals himself. ‘All the better to eat you with!’, says the wolf and he jumps out of bed and chases LRRH, clearly wanting to eat her.
Now again, it is at this point in the story that there are different versions, some are more gory than others. ‘Gory’, G-O-R-Y is an adjective meaning ‘horrific, lots of blood, suggestive of violence’, like a nasty film. Basically LRRH is rescued by a woodcutter. So a woodcutter, years ago was a profession, a man, probably, whose job it was to look after forests and woodland. He’s a woodcutter, because part of his job would be to cut down trees, chop them up. I’m sure woodcutters still exist today, but they would be probably be called ‘foresters’ and their job would be to protect the woodland, to protect the environment, of course.
Anyway, in the story the woodcutter usually has an axe – that’s a tool for chopping down trees. An axe has a wooden handle and a metal blade to cut things. If you have a real fire to warm your house, then you may have an axe, which you use to chop up wood for your fire. An axe is spelt A-X-E. So the woodcutter kills the wolf with the axe and saves LRRH and usually her grandmother too. In older versions of the story, even if the grandmother has been eaten by the wolf, she is miraculously freed from inside him, completely unharmed, completely OK! Then as if all of that is completely normal, LRRH and the woodcutter and grandmother sit down and eat the food from the basket that LRRH has brought with her. So it’s nice that there’s a friendly woodcutter to save the situation – but surely LRRH and the grandmother might be a bit traumatised after all of that?
In some ways, it’s a story which is very symbolic – the innocence of LRRH, the vulnerability of the grandmother and the badness and the cunning of the wolf – and the fact that there is a woodcutter to rescue the situation – he’s the ‘good guy’.
Hope you enjoyed that, one of our Short Stories for ESL Students. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Classic British Humour
English humour is odd at the best of times. A particular group of comedians, called “Monty Python”, probably made our dry English wit and straight up bizarre enjoyment of slapstick humour world famous. I’ve included a video of Monty Python who did a sketch: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sketch_comedy on the little red riding hood, which is so far removed from the actual story you would might get confused.
Now I definitely would not recommend using the video to learn from, it’s not appropriate learning material.
Although humour is fun and interesting to listen to, if you're an ESL student then be careful, as humour requires a lot of English knowledge which you can pull up quickly, so you can “Get the joke”. It’s often frustrating to ESL learners and probably not worth the effort.
If you have a few minutes to spare, it’s worth looking at though, who knows you might just get it and that would say a lot about how you are doing learning to speak English. Have fun.