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Engage Learning in TEFL with Case Studies and Storytelling

The art of storytelling has been a cornerstone of education for centuries. From the epic tales of ancient civilizations to the modern narratives that shape our understanding of the world, stories have the power to captivate and inspire. In Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), storytelling transcends mere entertainment. It becomes a dynamic tool for language acquisition and student engagement.

This article delves into the efficacy of case studies—a specialized form of storytelling—in the TEFL industry, drawing on the insights from the webinar “Using real stories for real results: making the case for Case Studies” presented by Rob Howard.

The Role of Storytelling in Language Education

Storytelling is compelling, engaging, and extremely effective as a means of communication. Since the first English story, Beowulf, over 1300 years ago, humankind has used stories to entertain, enlighten, and educate. In the classroom, stories can come alive as tools to activate the mind and to enhance language acquisition, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Digital storytelling, in particular, has emerged as a novel approach that uses modern computer technology to amplify language learning and teaching.

Case Studies: Bridging Business and General English

Case studies, often utilized in business English classes, serve as an essential tool for applying theoretical knowledge in practical, real-world scenarios. However, the methodology for using business cases can equally be used in the General English classroom to intensify, enforce, and improve student communication skills. This approach enhances language proficiency and develops critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Implementing Case Studies in the TEFL Classroom

The implementation of case studies in the TEFL classroom involves a strategic approach that maximizes student talking time and engagement. Teachers inexperienced in the use of the case study method may feel intimidated by the content-based nature of the case studies. However, with appropriate planning and execution, case studies can be a powerful tool to improve students’ communicative competence and oral proficiency.

In his workshop Using real stories for real results: making the case for Case Studies Rob Howard provides valuable insights and practical takeaways for teachers to implement these critical aspects in their classrooms.

Practical Case Studies and Storytelling for EFL Classes

Incorporating case studies and storytelling into EFL classes can significantly enhance the learning experience. Here are some examples that teachers can adapt and use:

  • Real-Life Scenarios: Use case studies based on real-life situations that students may encounter, such as ordering food in a restaurant or handling a job interview.
  • Business Dilemmas: For business English, present case studies involving common business issues like managing a team or negotiating a contract.
  • Historical Narratives: Employ storytelling to recount significant historical events, which can provide context for language and cultural learning.
  • Cultural Tales: Introduce students to folk stories or legends from English-speaking countries to immerse them in the culture and language.
  • Problem-Solving Activities: Create case studies that require students to solve a problem, promoting the use of language skills in critical thinking and decision-making.
  • Personal Stories: Encourage students to share personal stories or experiences, which can help with practising past tenses and narrative skills.
  • Interactive Role-Play: Develop case studies that involve role-playing different characters, enhancing speaking and listening skills.


In conclusion, the integration of Case Studies into TEFL curriculum offers a transformative experience for both teachers and students. It encourages a deeper engagement with the language and cultivates a more interactive and communicative learning environment. We invite those interested in exploring this innovative approach to watch Rob Howard’s workshop, which is a treasure trove of knowledge for any TEFL professional looking to enhance their teaching methodology.


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