In some speaking exams you may have to tell a story that you make up or a true story about something that happened to you. This is sometimes called a personal anecdote.

Here are our top tips for telling a good story or anecdote.


  • Take time to think about the question and the story before you start talking. 
  • Use narrative tenses – past simple, past continuous and past perfect.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs to make the story interesting.
  • Use sequencing words: first of all, then, after that, later on, finally, in the end ...
  • Give your story an introduction. Say briefly what your story is about.
  • Give the background to your story. Say when and where it took place and what you were doing at that time.
  • Say what happened step by step. Use words like so, because and although to connect the actions until you reach the end of the story.
  • Keep the action moving!
  • Finish your story or anecdote by saying why it is important to you or why you remember it.
  • Look at your listeners.


  • Take too long telling the story or your listeners will get bored.
  • Use a flat or bored voice.
  • Look down or look around the room.

Examples of storytelling tasks

  • Tell me about a holiday you had.
  • Tell me about a difficult journey you had.
  • Tell me about a perfect day you’ve had.
  • Tell me about a special event in your life.
  • Tell me about a birthday you remember.
  • Tell me about a time when you lost something important.
  • Tell me about a time when you gave someone a surprise.


We do this everyday when we talk to friends and family. What type of stories or anecdotes do you like to hear? Stories about people, holidays or something else?


ellen's picture
ellen 22 February, 2014 - 16:57

i tell you one anecdote .
A man called the police says:
~ Police have the 500 dead.
Police says:
~ Where?
Man says:
~ Cemetery.
How is it?
It is funny?

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Ash94's picture
Ash94 24 November, 2013 - 14:31

Hi Learn English team,
Can you please make a system to let us know if someone has replied to our comments?

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 25 November, 2013 - 08:53

Hi Ash94,
Yes, we agree that it would be great to have a notifications system for replies. We want to improve the comment features on the website and we're looking into it. Thanks a lot for suggesting this improvement, anyway. We're working on it!
Best wishes,
Joanna (LearnEnglishTeens team)


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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 24 November, 2013 - 10:18

Hi ann_gemini. Kelvin and Melissa are both from Hong Kong. They spoke well, didn’t they? Did you like watching these videos? Keep going with your English practice and never give up! It takes hard work to improve but you can do it! You are writing very well in your messages so I think you’re already doing well.
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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ann_gemini's picture
ann_gemini 17 January, 2014 - 10:28

Hi Jonathan, I think people living in Hong Kong have greater exposure to English because it's a multicultural society, isn't it? So they speak English so well. I am now practicing speaking English with an American accent :D . I hope I could speak as naturally as Kelvin and Melissa did

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 11 April, 2013 - 16:50

I like to hear stories about some amazing experiences, like traveling abroad. And I like to hear stories about people, about their life and their way to succeed.

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m.tayyab's picture
m.tayyab 23 August, 2012 - 07:52

i like to hear stories about others personal experiences and about difficulties in their's life etc.

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Stavii16's picture
Stavii16 10 July, 2012 - 08:18

An amazing day of my life was about a week ago.

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