the best of qualities is dispassion

My Response to “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL”

One of the main reasons I recently relocated to Uijongbu-Shi, Republic of Korea (ROK) was to teach. My focus will be on teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and I plan to take advantage of available technology, to better my teaching, and to improve learners’ L2 acquisition. Since my arrival here, just a few short weeks ago, I have observed many Koreans, from young grade-school children, to grandfatherly types with portable digital devices in-hand, primarily smartphones. The proliferation of smartphones here is truly amazing and my first-hand experience bears out what I have been reading prior to my arrival, which states that the ROK is likely the most connected country in the world.

    Due to the widespread acceptance of technology here I have been searching for digital tools that can offer an immersive setting to L2 learners. When I began researching teaching EFL in Asia with digital stories I was pleased to encounter so many scholarly articles on the topic of Digital Storytelling (DST) and EFL teaching, and the one I read for this critique reviewed existing literature on this topic and aggregated the findings. The article, “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL”  authored by M. Sidury Christiansen and Marie-Louise Koelzer is a very appropriate place for me to begin, as it provides a great overview of the topic. Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) describe that EFL teachers don’t seem to be taking advantage of DST, although “… it is becoming a widely accepted tool to address students’ language and literacy needs in the English language teaching field. For this reason, EFL teachers need to become increasingly familiar with the practices of DST in the classroom.” They argue that it has not gained popularity due to many EFL educators misunderstanding DST in the classroom.

    The misunderstanding stems from the fact that educators are often too focused on the technology and seem to think that they must have cutting edge tech available or they, and their students, will not be able to produce digital stories. Christiansen and Koelzer (2016) not only share the findings of others which clearly demonstrate that this is not the case, but go on to detail how digital stories can be effectively produced using web-based tools, as well as applications that are either included in operating systems, or are part of widely distributed office productivity suites, or even available for free download from the web.

    In my current endeavor, it behooves me to better understand DST in the EFL classroom and as Christiansen and Koelzer (2016)  clearly state “… numerous studies illustrate successful accounts of DST to improve students’ language and literary skills in the EFL classroom.” I wish to gather as much credible research as possible before I begin teaching, and since I will begin by teaching small groups from my home, I have the “luxury” of designing my own curriculum, which will take advantage of digital technology on the whole, and more specifically DST.


Christiansen, M. S., & Koelzer, M. (2016). Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

8 thoughts on “My Response to “Digital Storytelling: Using Different Technologies for EFL””

  • Hi Robert,
    I enjoyed your review. I had no idea the proliferation of smartphones in Korea. I wonder about mobile access to other countries—is there anywhere that Apple hasn’t infiltrated? And the ROK being the most connected country intrigues me. There are so many emerging apps for learning on smaller platforms—it’s a great opportunity for mobile learning in your field. You could even make some yourself with appy pie and iMovie etc.. So much available for developing content. Well wishes on your teaching endeavors; that’s so exciting!

    • Hi Lisa, I hope to produce some short films in the very near future. There are indeed many emerging apps, to the point that it is often difficult to stay focused, but exciting. Thanks for your kind words!

  • This week I read the “Digital Storytelling in the Foreign Language Classroom” article authored by Martha E. Castaneda and Nohelia Rojas-Miesse where it is mentioned that “…most digital projects in the US are typically completed in English courses for native speakers” and that “Few manuscripts have been published that discuss or investigate digital storytelling in the foreign language classroom.” I believe these ideas support the argument that “EFL teachers don’t seem to be taking advantage of digital storytelling”. Although the importance of technology in education has increased significantly, some educators indeed believe that technology is always expensive and they are not aware of free web based tools. I am very interested in learning more about the way you implement DST in your EFL classroom.

    • Hi Louiza, thanks for the comment! I’ll have a look at the article you refer to and possibly respond to it in this course, as it sounds like a worthwhile read. I am still developing ideas for our curriculum, but will be happy to share them in the future. We are still learning, but hope to start teaching in the near future.

  • Hey Robert,

    I chose to read your blog posts because teaching EFL is something that I aspire to do once I am finished with this program. It was really interesting to hear that ROK is the most connected country in the world; I had no idea! From my teaching experience, I too have noticed that some educators think that they need ‘cutting edge’ technology for their students. How wrong they are! Digital storytelling with ESL children is a great way to build comprehension, background knowledge, and literacy skills. It is also a fun way to connect with your students and it allows ELL the opportunity to hear and visually connect with the story being told. I look forward to hearing how your resources come along and please share them! I am eager to find new resources and digital stories for my emergent learners as well.

    • Hi Nickolette, of course, it depends on the source of the statistics, but Korea is either the most connected, or very near the top of the list. I returned to College in my mid-fifties and earned a minor in English, as well as a TESOL certificate, with teaching EFL in Asia as the goal. I then discovered the ILT program and immediately realized its value, so here I am living in Korea while working on my masters. I’m quite fortunate! I will share my experience with you, including any resources I discover. Good luck!

  • Great article for you to choose, so applicable to your current teaching. You will be one of the EFL teachers “taking advantage” of the power of DST for learning language. It is a wonderful way for language learners to create Language Experience Stories — stories they tell about themselves in order to make language learning relevant for them.

    • Hi Lori, thanks for your feedback on DST and EFL. This course has provided me with many interesting ideas, and now I must learn the craft.

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