Case Studies Abstract Alfredo Cano Abstract Innovative methods in language teaching may sometimes be slightly difficult for less experienced teachers. Case studies are a relatively new type of task-based activities for business English students. They have been used in language courses for some time now. It seems, however, that their full teaching potential has not been used yet. Teachers seem to be uncertain of how to use cases in class.
The paper presents the main pedagogical aspects of using case studies in business English courses. It gives a short description of the structure of typical mini-cases included in recently published course-books of business English. It discusses the basic principles and techniques of using the case study method in class. The main aim of the paper is to present the advantages of the case study method as a new tool of developing learners’ linguistic and non-linguistic competence.
Cases offer valuable teaching material that needs to be fully exploited. Suggestions given in teacher’s books can be supplemented by various innovative tasks aimed at developing the productive skills of speaking and writing. Cases are motivating for business English learners since they give them the authority to decide what to do to solve a real-life business problem (learners are in the role of managers). Learners can present their point of view, discuss its advantages and suggest a course of action.
They have a chance to compete and to demonstrate their analytical and managerial skills. Doing the cases learners use language naturally. In the case study method language is a tool to solving a problem, it is a means of communicating in typical business situations. If teachers learn how to use cases more extensively in the future, they will certainly make the teaching process more effective and studentcentered. 1. Introduction The effectiveness of language teaching depends, among others, on teaching materials.
Students and teachers need materials that can improve the language acquisition process and offer more opportunities to develop the productive language skills of speaking and writing. These skills, as opposed to the receptive skills of reading and listening comprehension, are more difficult to acquire and require much more practice and time. In her book on business English teaching Donna (2000) stresses the fact that if students believe that in a language course they do tasks relevant for their future professional communication, they are more motivated to learn.
Case studies were first used in law to evidence verdicts given by judges and to teach law students. In the 30s of the 20th century cases were introduced in psychiatry. Case reports were written to document diseases and to consult the cases with other specialists. Today, all medical specialties use case reports for didactic and research purposes. Case studies started to be used in business in 1967 when Strauss and Glazer created their ‘grounded theory’. In the mid-70s of the 20th century they were introduced in business schools.
Harvard Business School has been using this method intensively to teach future managers how to solve real-life problems. Today, the case study method is widely used as a teaching and researching tool in medicine, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, management, finance and other sciences where the presentation and analysis of a real problem is of relevance in teaching and researching. The paper presents the case study method as an interesting and motivating teaching material that can be widely used in teaching business English to adult learners. 2.