Number one for English language teachers

Writing skills: Fables

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate Type: Teaching notes

An enjoyable one-/two-hour lesson as a basis for writing a fable. Students produce an original fable, using narrative target language.

Target language: verbs describing direct speech; use of adverbs and present participles for extra information about the speaker; inversion of subject and verb for dramatic emphasis

Time: Either as a two-hour lesson, two one-hour lessons or a one-hour lesson plus homework.

Teacher’s notes:

The lesson starts on an upbeat so energises a tired writing class. A “Fable swap milling exercise” makes students retell their own fable eight times.  Each repetition should help to increase confidence and fluency and gives students a chance to correct and elaborate. Encourage this. This first step also allows exposure to the target language pinpointed in the analysis stage later. 


  1. Hand out one of the eight Fables (you may need to repeat them, depending on numbers) and one “Fable titles” / “morals” sheet to each student.  Fold the latter so only the titles are showing. As you do this talk about what a Fable is and ask whether they have heard of ”Aesop”s Fables”.
  2. Give them the necessary time to understand and memorise (stress not word for word) the Fable.
  3. Students mill and tell their fable to every other student, hearing one and ticking it off their titles list in return.
  4. Sit down in pairs and unfold their sheet to match the tales heard with the morals listed. (Give plenty of time for discussion and questions to each other)
  5. Explain the stories read well partly due to certain language features in them. Hand out the Analysis worksheet for individual and pair work (see sheet). 
  6. Write their own fable (see sheet). Encourage them to make it as serious or funny, modern or traditional as they wish.

Some fables links:

A site with a large list of Aesop's fables including some with audio files: 

This university site is really worth a visit. It is the creation of a computer studies course in which students have to illustrate the traditional Aesop's fables along side their own retellings of the fables in a modern setting.

Another great site with lots of interactive tools for young students to have fun with. Students enter their personal details and they are integrated into stories and fables. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It's located under the 'related resources' heading.

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  • Where do we find a link to the sheet referred to?

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