New sources of reading and speaking in your class

HST 1 – 7:  Seven stories complete with lesson plans,
teaching ideas and handouts for students
HST 8 +:  More stories covering a wide range of themes

I have heard many teachers say that they’d like to have some short reading texts that are of a different style to what students normally encounter in their coursebooks.  I have written a number of stories/anecdotes that have gone over well when presented in my classes and I have received good feedback from other teachers who have tried them out in their classes.  I’d like to show you how to access them and some possibilities of what you can do with them.  The minimum level recommended for your students using these stories would be B2 in Europe or upper intermediate / pre-advanced in general.

Where to find the stories

When you enter go to the top menu bar and click on the last button on the right.  This will bring you to the HST Narratives homepage which hosts a general listing of all the stories.

Selecting a story

These are some of the stories that are offered.  The first seven in this top section all have lesson plans and added materials such as suggested lead-in questions, a look at some of the vocabulary and uses of English, comprehension questions for the reading (or listening if you choose to present it in that way, but not all stories are accompanied by the audio version) and of course some possible discussion themes following the story.  The details of these will be provided when you select the story.

The middle box that you see for each story provides a quick little summary of what the story is about.

Clicking on the box on the right will take you to the story itself, the lesson plan and the materials you can use.

One story as an example: #3 Two Dates

We’ll use this as an example of how you can present the story in class and become a little familiar with the options of materials and approaches you can use.  Click on the right box entitled ACTIVITIES.

Top of Storypage Lesson Plan

After the title and the image, you will find 3 boxes you can click:


This is a two-page general lesson plan which you can use for any of the first seven stories.  (All stories following the first seven don’t have extra materials that are referred to in this suggested approach.)

This is a copy of the story you can download or print for your students.  The lines are numbered for easier reference such as when a student has a question about vocabulary or you want to point out something.

I have only recorded the audio version for the first three stories for the time being.  If there is sufficient demand for it, I will return to continue recording more versions.  Note that there is a moving written text which follows the spoken version as it progresses through the story.  The introduction and afterword are not given in the written form, only in audio.

Beginning here you have the various parts of the lesson plan explained and if you follow it through, it should be quite clear.  (If there are parts which are not clear, then please let me know.  In fact, even if everything is clear and works well, I still would like to hear from you.  Knowing what you find useful and interesting helps me decide what and in what ways to present future material and ideas.)

In each orange box is a brief explanation of what you can do at this step of the lesson plan and in the right column is where you can click to get copies of the student handouts and speaking suggestions as well as answer keys (yes, these are very helpful to teachers).

The ‘chuleta’ is the only unfinished part in this block of lesson plan materials.  It is on my list of ‘TO DO’ and will hopefully be completed before the new year.

Following the first 7 stories is an ongoing inventory with a new story added at the beginning of each month with the exceptions of July and August.  (Even writers have to take a break and recharge their batteries.)

You can follow the guidelines set for the first 7 stories and create your own handouts or adapt how you use the stories according to your students, your time and the way you like to approach things.  At the very least you have the stories to draw from and use them to serve as a basis for speaking and writing as well as having a look at the vocabulary and structures used.

Look at the titles and descriptions of the stories and choose one or more that you feel appropriate for your students, or for your own personal reading.  Here are a few suggestions:

The Greeks     Getting Older     A Maid’s Helper     Eating Chocolate    (This last story is about a man without a mobile phone.)

The story, The Greeks, by the way, actually does have a lesson plan, too, but it isn’t presented in the same way as the first 7 stories.  You can find it in S’MORE STORIES, just before the MORE STORIES section, or click here to get to the page.


Clicking on any of those stories will bring you to a website ( which is the home of all the stories published to date.  If you go to the top menu bar and click on ALL STORIES, you can find not only the English versions, but also some in Catalan and in Spanish.  (This is not a random selection.  I am living in Barcelona and these are the two languages in common use here.)


There aren’t any exercises or handouts in other languages but if you are a Spanish teacher besides being an English one, for example, you can take advantage of the story already translated and use it in class as you like.


It’s very easy to access those stories.  Enter the menu through ALL STORIES, scroll down until you find a story with the flag you are looking for, and the story will appear in that language.


Imagine one day that this will be the case for everything.  But by then we will all be out of jobs, looking for yet new alternatives.

If you have found this article useful in any way or have tried one of the stories out in your classroom, let me know.  Or maybe you simply liked reading one of the stories.  I would be very grateful to hear any comments you might have to offer.   Take a moment to drop me a line in the CONTACT section on the website.

Have a good one!