Imagine you are in nature, and you are walking along a path.
What is it like, and what are you doing there?

As you walk you find a glass or a cup.
What is it like, and what do you do with it?

Next you find a key. Describe the key.
What do you do with it?

You come to an obstacle. It may be a wall, or a river, or something else.
What is it, and what do you do?

Now you see a pole or a road sign. Tell me about it.
What do you do?

Suddenly a tiger is on your path.
What is he like? What do you do?

You come to some water. It may be a lake, a river, or an ocean.
Describe it, and tell me what you do there.

Finally you come to a precipice or a black hole.
Describe it, and tell me what you do there.

Key to the Symbols

glass/cup = role of women in person's life
key = intelligence
obstacle = problems in person's life
pole/road sign = role of men in person's life
tiger = danger
water = love
precipice/black hole = death

Paired students ask each other the questions. After this is complete, the key to the symbols is given to them and they discuss with their partner what their answers mean. Afterward, the answers can be shared with the rest of the class.

With a small ESL class, I have the students fold a piece of paper into eight squares and draw a simple picture for each storytelling point. When everyone is done, each student tells their partner their story using the pictures. Then I reveal what the symbols mean, and we have a group discussion about everyone's drawings.

This storytelling idea comes from the American Language and Culture Institute, California State University, Chico, CATESOL Conference, 1991. The idea was excerpted from an unlisted book.