Case studies allow teachers to implement the communicative method of teaching. The primary focus is on completing a task. For example, working in small groups, students use a foreign language to communicate their opinions or ideas instead of doing language exercises to practice grammar or rote learning.
A case study includes an event or an issue that presents a specific problem. The learners are then asked to detect the problem or dilemma, identify where the problem began, provide details, explain the problem, and find solutions. The case study method encourages learners to think critically and creatively and are prepared for real-life situations that can happen anywhere at any time, especially in the workplace. Therefore, the instructor should be well prepared for the case study classes to create dynamic classroom activities that would stimulate thought and creativity and, at the same time, increase the learners’ English language competence. Case studies help teachers teach a foreign language effectively through knowledge, experience, creativity, and critical thinking. There are many case study samples and information about case study analysis online: business case studies, discussions for classroom activities, ESL conversation topics, case study methods, medical case studies, etc.
Classroom Activities The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms. - Charles Handy
Case Study Method
Case studies can be a useful tool in classroom teaching. They can focus on issues of special interest and can be an ideal complement to a textbook. The act of teaching case studies requires competence in two areas, the method of teaching and the content you are teaching. Case Study Examples
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. - W. B. Yeats Competence in selecting the content of case studies is as important as the teaching methods we use to present this content. In ESL classrooms usually discussions are conducted in smaller groups and then a representative of each group speaks in front of the class. The following simple case studies have been successfully used in teaching English as a Second / Foreign Language to adults (company staff). 1. Grocery Store Your family has had a grocery store for more than 50 years. Recently, a supermarket has opened 100 meters down the road. - What are you going to do?
2. A Fly in the Soup You are the owner of a small restaurant. A customer complained to you that he had found a fly in his soup. - What will you do/say? Discuss with your friends.
3. E-Mail You do not like your boss but you like the job very much. One day you typed a message on your computer to an understanding colleague (your best friend) complaining about your boss, using the words “stupid, lacking of feelings” and “cruel”. You e-mailed this message to your friend. But a few seconds later you realized that you made a mistake. Instead of directing the message to your friend, you had sent it to your boss! - What is your next step? Discuss with your friends.
4. Marketing a Product [In groups of three or five] Today you are Marketing Executives. Invent a product or service and market it and then present your idea to the class. You have to design an advertisement for television commercial or magazine. Please divide your presentation into three parts: 1. Describe the product or service. 2. Describe the advertising method used. 3. Explain, why you chose certain things in your advertisement, i.e. beautiful landscape, people, etc.
5. Domestic Violence You had a long conversation with a friend and coworker, a part-time employee who revealed to you that she is a victim of domestic violence. The woman’s husband has been abusing her since their first child was born. He is careful to injure her only in ways that do not leave visible signs, and she feels sure no one would ever believe her word against his. The family’s assets, even “her” car, are all in his name, and her part-time salary would not be enough for herself and the children to live on. Further, he has threatened to kill her if she ever leaves him or reveals the truth. After talking with you, the woman asks you to keep this conversation confidential. - What would you say / do? Discuss with your friends.
6. Conflict at Work You are Human Resource Manager, a married person with two children. You had a conflict in the workplace. One of your employees said this morning that he knows where your kids go to school. When he spoke, his eyes looked terrible and his voice was angry. - What will you do and say? Discuss with your friend.
7. A Strange Case You are Manager of a company. Several employees came to your office and reported an unusual situation which had occurred the previous day. An agency employee from a different building had been in and out of their office over a seven-hour period, remarking to several people that “the Government” had kept her prisoner, inserted microphones in her head to hear what she was thinking, and tampered with her computer to feed her evil thoughts. She also said that her doctors diagnosed her as paranoid schizophrenic, but that they are wrong about her. She made inflammatory remarks about coworkers, and made threatening statements such as, “Anybody in my old job who got in my way came down with mysterious illnesses”. - What will you do and say? Discuss in groups of five and give a presentation in front of the whole class.
8. In the Office Your spouse and you have been married for 10 years and for the last 6 months s/he has been having a secret affair with a woman/man in his/her office. You recently discovered this. S/he said how s/he was sorry and said s/he would stop seeing the person and that s/he would never love anyone else again. But s/he refuses to look for a new job. - What will you do? What will you tell her/him?
9. Car Accident Your spouse suffered a serious car accident a few years ago, and since then has been confined to a wheelchair. You had to give up your job to look after him/her and more recently s/he has become so demanding that you have to spend all your time with him/her. - What will you do? Discuss with your friends.
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