Amir's Story is a resource for all beginner ESOL learners, including those with basic literacy needs.  Learners will develop an everyday story from pictures and write their own text in collaboration with each other.  As teacher, you will be facilitator, guide and scribe.   The text produced can be used for further literacy activities, and suggestions are given for this.

Level:  Entry 1 (National 2/Access 2 in Scotland) ESOL learners with basic literacy needs/A1 CEFR Framework.   

Learning hours and delivery context:

Across seven units, the town provides a minimum of twelve hours of learning in a classroom context, delivered via linked units.  These units may be used independently or as one linked topic over several sessions.  Timings are flexible and teachers can break down the units into smaller chunks of learning and build in revision as required.  The resource is suitable for community ESOL and ESOL delivered in adult learning or FE.  Additionally, the teacher notes provide suggestions on how practitioners can develop further linked learning.

Units 4 ­- 7 provide illustrations for four distinct narratives featuring characters who live in the town, and teacher notes which provide ideas and suggest frameworks for developing language skills.  Each narrative takes a different skills focus. 

Amir’s story takes a whole language approach but focuses on producing a text with low literacy learners.  Li’s story focuses on reading skills.  Tom’s story focuses on speaking and listening, and Leon’s story provides an opportunity for learners to discuss and share opinions and points of view.

Unit 5: Amir’s Story

The focus is on producing a collaborative text with learners that can be developed for further literacy activities.  In addition to the teachers’ notes, you are provided with the original town map (from Unit 1) and a PowerPoint which you can use to project the pictures, both out of and in sequence, and to assist with writing (if you have access to a projector).  If you do not have facilities for using the PowerPoint, you can simply work with printouts of the pictures and a flipchart.  In a separate document are suggestions for literacy activities you may develop from your learners’ story.

This unit is most suitable for learners with basic literacy needs but who are consolidating beginners in spoken English.

The focus is on using learner-generated language and keeping teacher-imposed language to a minimum.  At a later stage, you may wish to edit the story with your learners and adjust significant or relevant errors.  In this first stage, learners will develop the story in their own words.  The focus is on making meaning rather than looking at details such as whether the third person ‘s’ has been included or whether the past simple is used for the narrative.

The rationale behind this is that learners will find it easier to read and recognise their own words, and will become discouraged if these are substantially changed. The language they produce and you scribe will give you sharp evidence of their language proficiency at this point in time.

This method is related to the ‘language experience approach’ which uses a similar strategy to develop texts based on learner experience.

The timings for this work are flexible.   The idea is for learners to produce a collaborative story and return to work on it over one or two subsequent sessions.

In the story suggested by the illustrations, Amir wakes up late for his interview at a warehouse.   He misses the bus and has to take a taxi.  The interview takes place and he is successful.  Of course, your learners will tell this story in emergent English, and will have their own ideas to contribute.


  • To facilitate learner composition and development of a narrative.

Preparation for the initial session:

You will need:

  • Photograph of Amir (in PowerPoint file)
  • Map of the town (optional)
  • Amir PowerPoint.  This is in three sections:
  • the pictures out of sequence for discussion and language development
  • an overview of the story with sequenced pictures
  • individual picture slides (in sequence) to use for scribing the story

If you do not have facilities to use PowerPoint you can print out hard copies of the pictures for use alone or with OHP.  Or you can give learners copies of the storyboard or copying template and create very simple line drawings yourself for scribing (see our reviewers pictures at the end of these notes).  If you have an interactive whiteboard, you may want to cut and paste pictures into its software application instead of using PowerPoint. 

  • Amir storyboard (optional)
  • Amir copying template
  • A whiteboard

The suggested procedure for the lesson can be found in the downloadable teachers' notes there are also suggested literacy activities to download.

The plans and worksheets are downloadable and in pdf format - right click on the attachments below and save them on your computer.

Copyright - please read

All the materials on these pages are free for you to download and copy for educational use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place these materials on any other web site without written permission from the British Council. If you have any questions about the use of these materials please email us at: