A Case Study on the Educational Effectiveness of Online English Content Using the Storytelling Learning Method: Focusing on Students’ Perceptions and Opinions

Article information

J Eng Teach Movie Media. 2024;25(1):1-15
Publication date (electronic) : 2024 February 28
doi : https://doi.org/10.16875/stem.2024.25.1.1
Professor, Dept. of English, Open Cyber University of Korea, C-9F, 353 Mangu-ro, Jungnang-gu, Seoul, 02087, Korea
1Corresponding author, Professor, Dept. of English, Open Cyber University of Korea, C-9F, 353 Mangu-ro, Jungnang-gu, Seoul, 02087, Korea (E-mail: hkkang@ocu.ac.kr)
Received 2023 September 30; Revised 2024 February 11; Accepted 2024 February 22.


This is a case study designed to determine the educational effect of online English content using the Storytelling Learning Method (SLM). The study focused on the course Learning English through Film offered by a cyber university in Seoul. A survey was conducted among 1,024 students from 86 universities who participated in the course. The course was based on the film A Dog’s Way Home (Smith, 2019) and followed the story of the film for 15 weeks over a semester. At the end of the semester, a survey was carried out to assess the following: 1) satisfaction with the online English learning content and improvement of English skills, 2) the effectiveness of SLM, and 3) students’ perceptions of their English skill improvement. The survey results revealed that 76% of the students found the SLM to be effective, and 92% expressed their interest and active participation in the course. In addition, 80% of the students reported that the online classes were more helpful in learning English, with listening and understanding context identified as the most improved language skills. These findings support the effectiveness of strategically structured course content utilizing SLM in terms of enhancing students’ motivation to learn and their academic achievements.

Keywords: higher education


The purpose of this study is to analyse and investigate the pedagogical effectiveness of online English content using the Storytelling Learning Method (SLM) in improving college students’ English proficiency. SLM is a learning method that inspires motivation to solve problems through interest and motivation (Kang, 2022). Yeo and Kang (2020a) presented an AI storytelling learning method based on an educational philosophy that combines insights from the humanities and social sciences with the mathematics and logic of the natural sciences, and emphasised that this learning method will promote strong motivation and creativity in AI learning. In addition, Yeo and Kang (2020b) introduced the AI+STORYTELLING (AI+ST) learning model, which aims to make AI technology more accessible and engaging for university students without specialised backgrounds. Their research showed that the AI+ST learning method is an effective complement to algorithm-based or developer-centred approaches, and can increase students’ understanding, interest, and application of AI.

On the premise that this storytelling method can be effectively applied to English teaching, this paper suggests the need to create a lesson plan with SLM so that students can overcome their fear of English and participate in classes with interest and fun to improve their basic English skills. Films are good materials for storytelling. They are also good materials for students to become interested and immersed in. In particular, films with human-friendly pets will be easy for students to relate to. For this reason, I would like to introduce the subject of Learning English through Film, which was produced using touching human dramas such as A Dog’s Way Home (Smith, 2019), and discuss the impact of the subject, which applies the SLM, on the improvement of students’ English skills by conducting a survey of students who have taken this subject.

In the Learning English through Film course, the main clip videos from A Dog’s Way Home were used as teaching materials. This course is adapted from a human-friendly pet drama in which a dog, separated from its owner, goes through difficulties across the Mexican border and the rugged mountains and rivers of Colorado to find its owner in a storytelling manner (Kang, 2020). The dramatic elements of the story were introduced so that students could immerse themselves in the video by listening to an exciting situation, predicting the next normal function, being exposed to related English words and phrases, practising them repeatedly, and learning English sentences in the whole context by replaying the video. For example, the crackdown police trying to catch a dog, hunters in the jungle, wild animals looking for prey, snow-covered mountains, cold and hunger, the dangers of deep rivers and valleys, the old man dying, and the murderous distance of 400 miles are set as the antagonism of the drama so that students can learn English naturally and achieve a dramatic narrative effect in coping with situations.

To further this study, a survey of 1,024 students enrolled in 86 universities nationwide was conducted to analyse basic statistical data and present educational implications. The research questions are: 1) Did the online English learning content using SLM affect learners’ participation in class? 2) If this course has helped learners to improve their English, which skills has it particularly helped? To what extent do learners feel that their English language skills have improved as a result of this course?


1. Conceptual and Theoretical Background of Storytelling as a Learning Method

Storytelling may be the best way to get students interested and engaged in learning, argues Kang (2022). Let us first find out what storytelling is and review previous research on the importance of storytelling in learning environments. MacDonald (2021) describes storytelling as “ensuring a story from your heart to the heart of your listener. There is nothing in the way, a story in you, and you pass it over thoroughly looking at your audience. It comes from mutual hearts” (as cited in Kang, 2022, p. 23). It is about emotion and affectivity. In order to get the story across to the audience and to empathise with them, the storyteller has to read the other person’s mind and pay attention to changes in the other person’s voice, intonation, facial expressions and body movements. The teller and listener must work together to immerse themselves in the story. This is because storytelling is an activity that requires someone to listen to the story and is a shared activity. Storytelling not only enhances the expressive power of the individual, but also fosters a caring and cooperative spirit, the ultimate goal of education.

MacDonald (2021) describes a great storyteller as follows:

A real good storyteller is a teller who really cares about the story and cares about the audience. Select a very simple story, and tell it like you really know well. Keep telling it over and over. Find out a good story that you love, tell the story to different audiences, and come back to the same audience and tell it again. (as cited in Kang, 2022, pp. 24-25)

Dr. MacDonald, a master storyteller, emphasises that to become a true storyteller you have to create your own story through countless repetitions. She says that to become an expert in any field you have to practice constantly. She stresses the need to practise again and again so that the story you choose is entirely your own. MacDonald (2021) also highlights the reason why storytelling is used as a teaching method in EFL classrooms as follows: “The most important thing to use a story in teaching the 2nd language is because story is playful. It is fun. It is just fun, and children, teenagers and adults can help having fun doing it. They enjoy learning through the story” (as cited in Kang, 2022, p. 26).

Jeff Gere, an American storytelling performance artist and lecturer in storytelling education at the University of Hawaii, invites participants to experience action storytelling for themselves. He tells stories through body language, facial expressions and onomatopoeia, and gives performance-based lectures in which participants participate directly (Gere, 2021). Rather than being a passive audience watching the performance, participants actively respond to his facial expressions and gestures, imitate sounds and movements, and initiate performances in which everyone participates together. The main points of this method are fun and participation.

English learning and teaching methods are changing and developing from traditional grammar-centred to communication-centred, and the four English skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking should be equally acquired for learners of English as a second language. Among these, speaking, which is the most difficult skill for Korean students, could be improved through storytelling. As the importance of communication has also been emphasised in the business world, the focus is shifting from grammar- and vocabulary-based teaching to conversation-based teaching.1 In the case of young learners, unlike adult learners, they have the advantage of being able to acquire language without fear or shame. Therefore, there is no doubt that the use of storytelling will attract attention, especially in the field of second language teaching for young children.

The role of storytelling in second language teaching is also emphasised by Matthew James Friday, a British educator, poet and storyteller. Emphasising the power of story (narrative) in the field of learning English as a second language, Friday (2020) shows through his experiences and examples that learners can learn English more easily by sharing stories in a fun way. It states that “when you engage your English-language learners through the power, fun, and sharing of narrative, the formal elements of language acquisition will follow more easily” (as cited in Kang, 2022, p. 27).

For reference, looking at the evaluations of about 60 people who participated in “the 4th International Storytelling Workshop in 2021 - Storytelling Online Workshop for Teachers,” it can be seen that adults also enjoy participating in the storytelling workshop. Most people express their thoughts about storytelling with emotional words such as “childhood, mother, kindness, grandmother, fun, sleep, sincerity and warmth” (Kang, 2022, p. 31). As mentioned again in MacDonald (2021), storytelling is fun, so not only children and young people, but also adults can enjoy it.

2. Application of Storytelling in (Online) Learning Environments

Some studies have proposed a learning method that can easily learn artificial intelligence (AI) techniques using storytelling techniques. For example, Yeo and Kang (2020a, 2020b) proposed the AI+ST Learning Method,2 which is a learning method that can easily learn AI techniques using storytelling. These studies attempted to develop the method using moving stories based on the antagonism technique and apply it to the field of AI learning. Yeo and Kang (2020a) presented an AI+ST Learning Method based on the educational philosophy that combines the insights of humanities and social sciences with the logic of natural sciences, and argued that this learning method is a talent education method that can strongly motivate AI learning. Through the “AI Storytelling Workshop” for students at an international school in Seoul, it is argued that the AI+ST Learning Method is a teaching method that improves academic performance based on collaboration, emotional intelligence, computational thinking skills, and problemsolving skills that are required in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Yeo and Kang (2020b) conducted theoretical research to explore how to effectively learn AI in the era of intelligent information driven by AI. This research proposed a teaching method so that not only students majoring in mathematics, statistics, and computer engineering, but also other majors such as humanities and social sciences, and the general public could have access to AI education. Considering the importance of storytelling for a reasonable and intelligent machine (AI) by Winston (1992), Yeo and Kang (2020b) introduced an AI education model using storytelling techniques through a pilot study of ordinary students at a university in Daegu. It introduced the AI+ST Learning Method as a complement to algorithm-driven or developer-centred learning methods. It argued that the AI+ST Learning Method would be effective for students, helping them to develop their understanding, interest and application skills in AI.

A study by Jung and Kim (2012) investigated the impact of storytelling-based English classes on primary school students’ listening and speaking skills, interest in English, and attitudes towards learning. The study found that students in storytelling classes significantly improved their listening and speaking skills compared to traditional textbook classes, and their interest in English and attitudes toward learning also increased significantly. These results highlight the positive effects of storytelling and emphasise the importance of integrating storytelling into the primary English curriculum to develop language skills and create a positive learning environment.

In conclusion, this paper proposes the SLM as a method to increase students’ interest and academic achievement in second language learning and highlights the following four points as a way to implement an effective SLM. First, the choice of story is important. A short, funny and touching story should be chosen. Stories with pets or lovable protagonists (characters) can easily impress the listener. Also, the story of the person telling the story can be the story of the listener and, so it should be a sincere story that can be the story of two people. Secondly, the composition of the story must be developed dramatically and the technique of antagonism must be introduced to make the story exciting and lively. You must become one with the main character and actively participate in overcoming the antagonist (obstacles). It should be stimulated to create a strong motivation to save the protagonist. It becomes the energy of achievement and creation in learning. Thirdly, repeated practice is necessary. You must get used to the story perfectly through countless repetitions of practice. You must make the chosen story your own. Fourth, clear communication skills are needed. You must be able to impress and connect with the audience by clearly communicating an interesting and vivid story to the other party (the audience). More than any logical persuasion, there must be a powerful force that moves a person’s mind. The learning method using these storytelling techniques will not simply convey information, but will make it easier to understand and remember the information to be conveyed, and will evoke emotional involvement and empathy.


With the goal of developing content that can optimize the effectiveness of online English education, a case study was conducted focusing on the online English content subject Learning English through Film. This section provides an overview of the study’s participants, research tools, procedures and data analysis.

1. Participants

The Learning English through Film course was produced by a cyber university in Seoul and launched as a general English course on the consortium’s education platform, which is hosted and operated by the cyber university. Students from 86 universities across the country participating in the consortium applied for the course. Students from the consortium universities were eligible for credit exchange and would receive 3 credits for completing the course. As the classes were 100% online on the consortium’s education platform, the regular onsite students preferred to take general English classes online at the same time as taking core courses at their affiliated universities. Due to the nature of English learning, which requires repeated practice, many students enrolled in online classes because they could take classes online repeatedly at any time and earn credits. Some 1,058 students from 86 universities enrolled in the first semester of the 2023 school year (from 27th February to 11th June 2023). Students included not only English majors, but also students from a wide range of disciplines who wanted to improve their basic English skills. The students attended and completed the online course for 15 weeks during one semester, including week 8 (midterm) and week 15 (final exam). A total of 1,024 students participated in the end-of-semester survey. Of the 1,024 students surveyed, the proportion of male and female students was 44% for males and 56% for females. They were students from almost all the different fields of study at a general university.

2. Research Tools

The survey was conducted as a questionnaire and a total of 1,024 students participated. The survey consisted of three main parts with detailed questions designed as closed-ended questions with predetermined answer choices for respondents to choose from. The researcher designed the survey questions to obtain answers to the three research questions mentioned in the introduction. A total of 8 questions were created and the response format was yes/no or selecting one of several options. Microsoft Forms was used to create the survey and Excel was used to validate the responses. The student bulletin board in the online classroom was used to observe the discussions among the learners to refer to the students' thoughts on the survey responses. The topic of the discussion was “Sharing opinions on preferences for the online English content Learning English through Film and the effectiveness of SLM.”

3. Procedure

A survey was administered to the students in the course. The syllabus indicated that the survey would take place in week 14 and that participation would be worth 10% of the final grade. The questions and results per item are detailed below.

1) Survey Question

The survey consisted of questions about the effectiveness of the online English content to which the SLM was applied, and questions about the extent to which the students felt their English skills had improved as a result of the course. The first question was to find out whether this course was helpful in learning English. More specifically, it was to find out which English skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary and phrases, sentence structure, understanding context, etc.) were felt to have improved the most after taking this course. The last question was designed to find out whether the continuous study of a film over 15 weeks was satisfactory and whether the SLM helped students to become interested and engaged in the class. The questions included in the questionnaire are listed in Table 1.

Survey Question

2) The Online Content: Learning English Through Film

(1) Lecture Objectives

The aims of this course are firstly, to improve critical thinking skills in understanding and constructing the whole story. Second, to learn English vocabulary in context and to understand the structure of English sentences and the meaning implied between the lines. Thirdly, to develop a broad understanding of the lifestyle, culture and life in English-speaking countries and to develop a foundation in the humanities. Fourthly, to improve English expression skills and enable confident use of English in real-life situations, with the aim of developing individuals who can thrive as global participants in the era of globalisation.

(2) Lecture Organization

The Learning English through Film course consisted of 15 weeks. Week 8 was replaced by a midterm without a lecture, and week 15 was also replaced by a final exam without a lecture. Therefore, the actual lecture took place in week 13. As shown in Table 2 below, the weekly lesson plan consists of 1st period (Period 1) Warm Up (25 minutes), 2nd period (Period 2) Build Up (25 minutes), and 3rd period (Period 3) Practice & Review (25 minutes). It has been produced as a 75 minute lesson.

Lesson Plan

In the 1st period [Warm Up], students watch the YouTube video they will be studying that day, understand the theme, situation and message of the video, and have time to exercise their imagination by adding their own thoughts to the unfolding story. Students also practice listening and speaking in English. In the 2nd period [Build Up], the text of the video watched in the first period is studied in detail. Students learn related vocabulary with context, understand sentence structure, learn grammar and key phrases naturally, and practice reading and writing. In addition, by adding synonyms and antonyms of key vocabulary words that appear in the video text, an average of 20 new words and 15 phrases (idioms) are learned each week. In the 3rd lesson [Practice & Review], students watch the YouTube video again to understand the vocabulary and phrases learned in the second lesson and to solve problems in the given mission video (filling in the blanks, interpreting in Korean, writing in English, etc.). To solve the problem, practice by watching the given video several times. Simulation education through mission videos is an example of promoting interaction between students and learning content. Through this activity, students practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English equally, and use English expressions and phrases appropriate to the situation. By learning, they can develop skills that can be used in real life.

(3) Lecture Content (Learning Through the Story of the Film)

This course covers one film over the course of 13 weeks. The reason why movies were chosen as teaching materials is because they are the optimal choice for applying storytelling learning methods. In particular, I chose a movie based on a touching human drama with a dog as the main character, so that learners could participate in the class with a sense of intimacy. In thematically organized classes based on storytelling techniques, learners are immersed in the situations (stories) that the main character faces each week and are made to wait for next week’s class by arousing curiosity about what will happen next.

To inspire learners to understand, remember, and take action, the effectiveness of storytelling was maximised by using a heart-warming human drama film, A Dog’s Way Home, featuring a dog as the protagonist. From the first to the fifteenth week, students studied interrelated stories that revolved around a central theme (the story) to encourage them to remember the overall weekly narrative, events, situations and thoughts of the protagonist. Throughout the course, learners become highly motivated as they unite around the desire to save the main character, Bella the dog. Building on the power of storytelling, students cultivate the habit of learning English through context. For example, being surrounded by hyenas in the mountains, being unfairly arrested by the police, in an avalanche, or falling alone in starvation can be the point of antagonism. The lesson topics constructed based on this are shown in Table 3 (see Appendix).

Lesson Topics

As shown in Table 3, the story shows the obstacles (antagonists) that bother the protagonist everywhere. The inability to raise Bella in Denver because she is classified as a pit bull terrier; wild beasts besieging her in the mountains; an avalanche; a homeless man trying to rope Bella to his side; a car accident on the highway; and reappearing the animal care worker and police officers drive viewers to save her. On the other hand, in the midst of such a crisis, the images of Bella and Big Kitten, who are happy rolling in the snow, win the hearts of viewers. The friendship and love between animals and the communion between humans and animals are the forces that lead the whole story. In the scene where Bella is finally embraced by her master Lucas, the audience enjoys the climax of joy and tells the story.


1. Content Satisfaction

1) Online Lectures or Face-to-Face Lectures: Which is More Helpful for Learning English?

As shown in Table 4, the first question asked which method, online lectures or face-to-face lectures at school, was more helpful for learning English. Students were asked to choose one of three options. Out of a total of 1,024 respondents, 817 students chose the “Online lectures,” 142 students chose the “Face-to-face lectures,” and 65 students chose “Both.” Around 80% of respondents (or 817 people) said that online lectures were more for learning English. Students highlighted the advantage of being able to adjust the playback speed to suit their individual pace, allowing them to thoroughly understand the content by reviewing the lectures several times. They also mentioned that repeated listening helped them to understand difficult parts that they initially struggled with. In addition, they expressed their willingness to attend online lectures again if given the opportunity in the future. On the other hand, 14% of students, or 142 students, said that they found face-to-face lectures more for learning English. Their reasoning was that languages, including English, are best learned and remembered through real-life use. They felt that simply reading and talking to themselves without face-to-face interaction did not have the same impact on their memory. They suggested that engaging in dialogue with classmates, such as practising lines from films together, would be a more effective approach. Although the face-to-face classes offered the advantage of being able to talk to their peers, they made it clear that this did not mean that the online classes were not helpful. One of the students shared that the online format had proved when he was unwell, as it allowed flexibility in terms of time constraints. He also highlighted the benefit of being able to review the material as many times as he needed. 6% (65 students) of the students replied that both online and offline classes seemed to be helpful for learning because of their different advantages. They replied that face-to-face classes are good because they can focus more on the situation with their fellow students, while online classes are good because they can easily study English in their free time using their mobile phones without time and space constraints.

Online Lectures vs. Face-to-Face Lectures

In a study of foreign students’ experiences of non-face-to-face Korean language classes, Kim (2020) found that they preferred real-time online classes using Zoom. Kim (2020) conducted research on foreign students’ experience of real-time online teaching during COVID-19. Students initially found the online teaching method inconvenient, but soon adapted. They struggled to prepare for group presentations but improved their Korean language skills. The benefits of real-time online classes included active interaction, immediate feedback, and a preference for video lectures for reading and writing and online classes for discussions and presentations.

This finding is consistent with previous studies that have confirmed the effectiveness of audiovisual (video) materials as a valuable learning method in educational settings. For example, lots of research has reported on the advantages of teaching with audiovisual materials (Lee, 2006; Lee, 2011; Choi, 2012; Jung & Kim, 2012; Kim, 2018).

In particular, because films can be effective for students who are familiar with computers and multimedia games, it was suggested that films have various educational benefits when applied to practical arts. It was believed that through films, learners could acquire knowledge, values and culture from real life, stimulate motivation and gain indirect experience. In a study conducted by Choi (2012), the significance of incorporating video content in educational settings was emphasized, along with an examination of college students’ understanding of the purpose and approach of utilizing video content for teaching, and their recognition of the connection between video-based instruction and the enhancement of logical reasoning abilities. Through in-depth interviews with college students, the findings revealed that they viewed video content as an engaging instructional method that facilitated comprehension of lecture materials and provided valuable opportunities to explore real-life phenomena and practical examples in the media domain. It was also reported that “the use of video content is recognised as a very effective learning method that can improve students’ logical abilities” (Choi, 2012, p. 173). Kim (2018) proposed a plan to develop listening textbooks to help learners improve their listening skills by taking advantage of video media, which is highly preferred by learners and arouses their curiosity and interest. As the use of video content in education becomes increasingly important, the importance of strategically planned online educational content is highlighted.

2) Which Skills Do You Think Have Improved the Most?

As can be seen in Table 5, when asked which skills were particularly improved by the course (they were asked to choose only one of the seven options), the most common responses were “Listening” and “Contextual understanding.” These accounted for 336 students and 316 students respectively. The next highest response was for improvement in “Grammatical structures” with 130 students. “Speaking” was also mentioned by 90 students. The same number of students, 59 each, reported an improvement in “Writing” and “Vocabulary.” In addition, 34 students reported an improvement in “Reading” skills. In percentage, 33% (336 students) stated that their “Listening” skills improved the most after taking the course. Given the focus of the course on English with videos, this seems to have played a significant role in improving students’ listening skills. Students who reported the greatest improvement in listening explained that activities such as watching films, listening to native speakers and practising shadowing with videos had contributed greatly to their progress. In particular, one student mentioned that the mission video section in the third lesson was particularly helpful, leading to a 200 point increase in his recent TOEIC test score.

Which Skills Have Improved the Most?

It is encouraging to note that 31% (316 students) reported a significant improvement in their “Contextual understanding” skills. This is a testament to the effectiveness of SLM, which was the primary learning method used in this study. In addition, 12% (130 students) reported an improvement in “Grammatical structures,” while 9% (90 students) experienced an improvement in “Speaking” skills. Among the students, 6% (59 students) identified “Writing” skills and “Vocabulary” skills as the areas that showed the most improvement. Although “Reading” skills received the lowest percentage at 3% (34 students), this does not mean that reading comprehension did not improve. Rather, it was overshadowed by other choices due to the constraint of selecting only one of the seven options provided. It is worth noting that students’ selection of different skills, regardless of the percentage, indicates the effectiveness of each skill offered in the course. For example, a student who selected “Speaking” skills as the most improved area explained: “I chose ‘Speaking’ skills because I not only learnt basic grammar, but also acquired a range of colloquial expressions and phrases which greatly improved my ability to communicate in everyday life.”

3) What was the Most Helpful Part of the Curriculum?

As shown in Table 6, when asked which of the curriculum was most helpful, 110 students (11%) said that the 1st Period (Warm Up: Watching videos) was the most helpful. 394 students (38%) indicated that the 2nd Period (Build Up: Reading the script) was the most helpful, while 520 students (51%) indicated that the 3rd Period (Practice & Review: Pattern practice through mission videos) was the most helpful. More than half of the students chose the 3rd Period. Students who felt that the 3rd Period was the most helpful commented: “It was good to be able to review the main content learnt that week by watching the simulation video several times and solving problems”, “It was fun to be able to participate actively in carrying out tasks such as filling in the blanks, dictating, interpreting phrases and sentences, etc.” It was effective for them to be able to participate actively in the class by concentrating on the lesson and practising repeatedly to solve problems in the third. They also commented that “the 3rd Period was because it served to review and integrate what had been learnt in the 1st and 2nd Periods, allowing the content learnt that week to remain in the mind for a long time.” Students who said that the 2nd Period was most helpful said “I was able to understand the situation in the film by watching the lines in the film and reading the script. In particular, I learnt grammar and key phrases related to the lines in the film and how to use grammar in context”, “It was easy to understand what was going on.” Students who responded that the 1st Period was the most helpful said, “Because it was at the beginning of the lecture, when concentration was highest, I was able to understand a lot of the content” and, “I also liked the time I had to imagine while previewing the videos I would learn that week.”

The Most Helpful Part of the Curriculum

From these results we can see the effect of the step-by-step structure of the lesson. In the 1st Period, the students watch a YouTube video as an introduction. There is no explanation of the video script or content at this point. This is a time for students to watch videos on their own, to learn what they will be learning that week and to think about what kind of story will unfold. In the 2nd Period, students read the script (text) of the video they watched in the 1st Period, sentence by sentence, and learn expressions such as relevant vocabulary and key phrases. In the 3rd Period, students watch the video they watched in the 1st Period again and review the vocabulary and key phrases they learned in the 2nd Period. They then watch and listen to the simulation video again to practise the vocabulary or phrases they need to learn this week. Through this process, students learn listening, reading, speaking, writing, grammatical structures, vocabulary and the ability to understand context. As a result, students will be able to improve their critical thinking skills to understand and compose the whole story, which is the aim of this course, learn English vocabulary in context, and understand the structure of English sentences and the meaning implied between the lines. It will also promote a broad understanding of the lifestyle and culture of English-speaking countries and consolidate a foundation in the humanities. In addition, learners will improve their ability to express themselves in English, be able to use English with confidence in real life situations, and become global citizens in an era of globalisation.

2. Effectiveness of Storytelling Learning Method (SLM)

1) Has SLM Helped You Learn English?

As shown in Table 7, out of 1,024 students, 778 students responded that it was helpful. However, none of the students chose “No” or “Don’t (I am not sure it helped).” In other words, no student gave a negative opinion. The reason why only 778 students answered this question is probably because the question about whether this course based on SLM was helpful was repeated (overlapping with question 2 in Section 3) and students skipped it without answering. All 778 students who responded answered in the affirmative. They felt that SLM’s focus on Bella’s story helped them to learn English. One student said: “The way I used to learn English was to interpret given sentences like a machine. But when I tried to break away from that and understand sentences with stories in a chain, I forgot that I was learning English and naturally approached English with my own will because I wanted to understand the next content. I was interested in this method of learning and found it very helpful.” Another student said: “I think the storytelling method helped me to learn English. Even if there were words I didn’t know in the lines, it wasn’t difficult to understand the context because there was a story and the lines came to mind, which helped me remember words and grammar.” Another student said: “I found it more interesting because it focused on Bella’s story. I was curious to see what happened next and it was easy to empathise with this animal because we see it so often. Because the story was simple and straightforward, it was easier to concentrate on Bella and it was really good for concentrating in class. It was great and helpful to understand the context. I think the storytelling method of learning is very helpful for students who are relatively uninterested in English,” he said, explaining why it was helpful. Another student said: “Because I learned English through storytelling rather than simple memorisation, the process of learning English was not boring and all the classes I took during the semester were fun. Perhaps because it was a story-centred class, I felt that it was stored in my mind as long-term memory rather than short-term memory. So in other classes I don’t tend to remember much of the material covered before the midterm, but that wasn’t the case in this class, so I was really impressed.” From the students’ responses, as mentioned in the previous section, it can be seen that the SLM stimulated the students’ interest in learning, helped them to understand the context and helped them to remember the learning in the long term. Through this study we were able to diagnose the effectiveness of the SLM.

Has SLM Been Helpful?

These results are also consistent with the research findings of Gu et al. (2009), a study that induced problemsolving skills by using storytelling to enhance learning motivation. Gu et al. (2009) developed a programming learning design and support system that induces motivation and problem-solving skills by combining problem-based learning and storytelling as a strategy to increase motivation for elementary programming classes. In addition, Jung and Kim (2012) demonstrated the effectiveness of language learning through storytelling in their study. The study examined the impact of storytelling English classes on primary school students’ listening and speaking skills, interest in English, and attitudes towards learning. The results showed that students in storytelling classes showed significant improvements in listening and speaking skills compared to those in traditional textbook classes. Their interest in English and their attitude to learning also increased significantly. These findings highlight the positive effects of storytelling as a teaching method for developing language skills and fostering a positive learning environment. The study also emphasises the importance of integrating storytelling into the primary English curriculum.

2) Were You Curious About the Story’s Unfolding in the Next Session?

Based on the data presented in Table 8, out of a total of 1,024 students surveyed, 943 students indicated that they were curious. None of the students answered “No.” It is possible that the response rate of only 943 students is due to the overlap between the question about curiosity about the story of the next session and question 2 in section 3, resulting in some students skipping the question without giving an answer. It is worth noting that all 943 students who responded to this question (100%) expressed their anticipation for the next lesson because they were curious about what would happen next. Examples of student opinions are as follows “It felt like watching a drama. As the story unfolds around the content, the immersion improves and I wait with curiosity to see what next week’s content will be,” “It was much more interesting than a typical English lecture,” “I was curious to see how the next story would unfold. Instead of a boring and uniform class, this storytelling learning method helped me learn English because I was able to kill three birds with one stone—learning, emotion and fun—through the content of films, especially films with humanistic content,” “I was so absorbed that I even thought the class time was too short,” “The storytelling learning method made me curious about the content to be taught next week, and I was more interested and engaged than in other classes because it was interesting and fun.”

Curious About Next Session?

3) Would You Like to Study Different Films Each Week Instead of This Course?

As shown in Table 9, out of 1,024 students, 608 students (59%) responded that it would be better to cover one film over the course of 15 weeks, as in this course. 272 students (27%) responded that it would be better to cover different films each week. 112 students (11%) answered that it would be ideal to watch about 2 different films before and after the midterm. And 32 students (3%) responded that both options would be good or that they were not sure which one would be better.

Different Films Each Week?

The following is an example of the opinions of students who responded to the above question by saying that it was a good idea to study one film per semester. “Studying the plot elements of the film one by one over the course of a semester allowed me to immerse myself in the film and understand the content in depth. I got so much out of just one film. But if I went through a different film every week, the learning flow or content was interrupted. I think it is very likely that only the surface will be known,” “I think it would be better to concentrate on one film and do it as a class. I think that if we cover a different film every week, the quality of the work will be low because the time is limited,” “If you do a different film every week, the disadvantage is that the story doesn’t continue. That’s why I think it’s better to cover only one film,” “For the sake of immersion, I think it is better to cover only one film,” “I’m also in favour of covering one film over 15 weeks for the sake of continuity.”

On the other hand, the opinions of the students who thought it would be good to teach with a different film each week were as follows. “I think there are many students in this class who are interested in films themselves. Therefore, if they can watch a variety of films, their interest and concentration will increase significantly. Also, I think that the variety of genres can play a big role in arousing interest,” “I was satisfied with this course, but if I had to choose between the two, I think it would be better to cover a different film every week. The reason for this is that I thought that if only one film was covered, students who had seen the film in advance might be relatively less interested. In my case, I had never seen the film covered in this class before, so I came to the class with interest, but I think other students might think differently from me. Therefore, I think that learning English through different films will help to arouse students’ interest and at the same time learn more diverse expressions.”

Students who thought it would be good to study one film for 15 weeks talked about the benefits of story continuity. On the other hand, students who thought it would be good to study with a different film every week thought it would be good to cover a variety of films in terms of interest and fun. In any case, we can see that even these different opinions agree that learning English through films that maximise the storytelling effect was very effective.

3. Academic Performance

1) How Much Do You Think This Course Has Improved Your English?

In response to this question, as shown in Table 10, 628 students answered “Much improved,” 116 students answered “Improved,” and 280 students answered their English improved to an “Average level.” No students answered “Not much improved” or “not Improved at all.” The majority of students (62%) reported a significant improvement, while 11% reported improvement, and 27% reported an average level of improvement. As a result of this course, 62% of students said that their English had improved significantly. Examples of student responses: “This course has been very helpful. I have improved so much that I can now communicate in English in real life,” “My TOEIC test score increased by 200 points,” “Especially my English listening and speaking skills have improved and I have gained the joy of learning English with ease,” “I have gained confidence in English,” “My English listening and reading skills have improved. In particular, I could feel that my memorising skills had improved significantly because I memorised English by thinking about the content of the film rather than just cramming it in,” “I felt much more comfortable with English after doing this course,” “I always had the burden of understanding and remembering the English I learned, but because I learned it by watching films, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, so I felt I could continue to study English on my own in the future,” “It was a course that allowed me to become familiar with the English language, and I think my English writing skills improved a little by speaking up even when I made mistakes.” Most of the 11% of students who answered “Improved” and 27% of students who answered “Average” gave a positive response, humbly stating that their English skills had improved through this course.

How Much Improved?

2) How Has This SLM-Based Course Helped You Improve Your English?

This question was asked: Has this SLM-based course helped you to improve your English? If so, in what way. The responses to this question were “I attended with great anticipation (excitement),” “I immersed myself with interest (involvement),” “It helped me understand the context,” “It helped me remember English words and expressions,” and “It was not much different from other courses.” As shown in Table 11, 33% (n = 334) of students responded that they were enthusiastic about attending weekly classes, and 25% (n = 259) of students responded that they immersed themselves in the course because it was fun. 22% (n = 226) of students responded that this course helped them understand the context, and 20% (n = 205) of students responded that it helped them remember English words or phrases. Fortunately, no one chose the negative answer “not much difference.”

Enhanced Language Skills


This study diagnosed the pedagogical effectiveness of online English content using SLM. Following the main story of the film A Dog’s Way Home, it was tested whether the strategically organised class content could increase students’ participation in class and stimulate their academic performance. It was investigated how the systematic structure of the lessons, such as the first lesson (improving listening and speaking skills), the second lesson (improving reading, writing, sentence structure and grammar skills) and the third lesson (repeated practice to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills) helped students to improve their English skills and, in particular, which aspects of the language improved. The study also looked at how much the students felt their English had improved after the lessons.

Students from 86 universities across the country, including non-English majors, participated in the 100% online course. At the end of the semester, a survey was administered to 1,024 students. The survey consisted of three parts, each with detailed questions. The content satisfaction survey, the first part of the survey, aimed to determine whether online English courses were effective in improving English skills compared to face-to-face courses. It also aimed to determine which specific English skills were most improved by the course and which of the three lessons per week was most helpful. The second part of the survey asked about the impact of the SLM on academic achievement. The third part of the survey consisted of questions to gauge the students’ perceptions of their academic achievement.

Based on the survey results, 80% of the students agreed that online classes were more effective for learning English than face-to-face classes. The majority of students reported the greatest improvement in listening (33%) and contextual understanding (31%), followed by sentence structure (12%), speaking (9%), writing (6%), vocabulary (6%) and reading (3%). It is important to note that a low percentage does not mean that the skill has not improved, as only one of the skills that showed the most improvement was selected in the survey. It is just a relatively low percentage in terms of improvement in a particular skill. Furthermore, the majority of students (51%) found the third lesson to be the most helpful, indicating the effectiveness of a problem-solving teaching method involving questions related to the learning topic. In addition, simulation training through mission videos was found to be helpful in improving English language skills. As examined in the literature review, the improvement of listening skills has been demonstrated in previous studies on the benefits of teaching with audiovisual materials, such as Kim (2018), Choi (2012), Lee (2006), and Lee (2011).

In addition, 76% of the students found the SLM to be effective and 92% of the students expressed interest and engagement in the class. This finding is consistent with the research findings of Jung and Kim (2012). The findings of Jung and Kim (2012) are that, firstly, the listening and speaking skills of the students in the experimental English classes using storytelling were significantly improved compared to the students in the comparison classes who received existing textbook instruction. Second, the interest in English and learning attitudes of students in storytelling enhanced classes were significantly increased compared to students in comparison classes who received existing classes. Based on these findings, SLM has been confirmed as a teaching and learning method that has a very positive impact on the development of listening and speaking skills and the affective domain of English language learning, and has been linked through related research to the current primary English curriculum. The need to develop a pedagogical model for storytelling was raised.

Through this study, I have demonstrated the effectiveness of online content for learning English, confirmed the importance of strategic class composition, and verified the effectiveness of SLM in motivating learners and encouraging active participation. The research showed that through carefully selected films, learners can acquire basic English skills such as listening, reading, speaking, writing and contextual understanding, while enjoying the process of learning English. It also showed that motivation and integrated technical skills are essential for effective language learning. This paper introduced SLM as a way to maximise the effectiveness of English language learning, highlighting four key factors: 1) story selection, 2) strategic storytelling techniques, 3) repeated practice, and 4) clear communication skills. It is hoped that this research will serve as a valuable resource to expand the scope and improve the quality of future content use.

From the perspective of learners’ perceptions and opinions, this study is a case study that analyses the pedagogical effects of online English content using SLM. It is expected that a more precise analysis of the correlation between each item that improves learners’ English proficiency and students’ responses will be conducted and used as a reference material for introducing SLM into the educational field and developing online English learning materials using movie English in the future.



Companies including Samsung have replaced the certification of employees’ language skills with OPIc scores, a speaking ability test, rather than TOEIC scores.


Yeo and Kang (2020a, 2020b) briefly referred to the Artificial Intelligence Storytelling (AI+ST) Learning Method as the AI+ST Learning Method.


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Appendix 1. YouTube Link Address Referenced in the Lesson Topic in Table 3

Article information Continued

Table 1.

Survey Question

Survey items Questions
Content satisfaction Which is more helpful for learning English, online lectures or face-to-face lectures?
Which skills do you think have improved the most?
What was the most helpful part of the curriculum?
The effectiveness of the SLM Has SLM helped you learn English?
Were you curious about the story’s unfolding in the next session?
Would you like to study different films each week instead of this course?
Academic performance How much do you think this course has improved your English?
How has this SLM-based course helped you improve your English? (e.g., participation, immersion, contextual understanding, vocabulary retention)

Table 2.

Lesson Plan

The 1st period Warm up The 2nd period Build up The 3rd period Practice & review
Watch YouTube video (Listening and speaking practice) Interpret and understand the text (Reading, word, and phrases, grammar practice) Watch the video again Mission activities (Listening, speaking, writing practice)

Table 3.

Lesson Topics

Week Topic Content
1 Introduction: The long road (Escape from Mexico: 400-mile march in search of America’s master) Deported to Mexico, Bella thinks only of her old owner, Lucas, who lives in Denver, despite the care of her new owner. Then one day, Bella escapes over a tall fence in the yard.
2 Goodbye, Bella Bella, who is left home alone after Lucas goes to work, runs through the window to catch the squirrel and strides down the street (tension rises just before the traffic accident). Eventually, she is arrested and locked up by the police.
3 Big Kitten Bella, who discovered a big kitten (later identified as a puma) who lost its mother in the forest, takes care of him with great care. It is lovely to see Bella and the big kitten keeping each other warm and being like a family.
4 Hunted by coyotes Bella is surrounded by a herd of coyotes in the midst of rugged mountains and is rescued by hunters passing by. However, with the help of the hunters, he missed the opportunity to meet Lucas, which is regrettable.
5 Fun in the snow Bella, who especially likes white snow, runs out excitedly when it snows and rolls around on the ice with Big Kitten, making friendships as pure and happy as snow. This scene makes the viewers want to save Bella. Background music “Jump Right In” by Laney Jones adds to the liveliness.
6 The Avalanche While playing with Big Kitten in the snow-covered mountains, Bella finds another dog and is happy to approach it, but the dog barks and causes an avalanche unintentionally. After being buried in the snow, Bella manages to get out and rescues the dog and its owner from the snow.
7 OST: Together from afar The scene of Big Kitten and Bella together confirming friendship, expressing affection for each other, and playing on the ice is beautifully depicted. Together from Afar, sung by Icelandic musician Jónsi, resounds as the background music, and the lyrics predict that Bella and Big Kitten will soon be parting.
8 Mid-term exam Review from Week 1 to Week 7
9 A homeless dog Bella, who managed to reach the village, is led by the homeless man Axel, who is tied to a leash. Bella keeps the lonely Axel by his side until he slowly dies.
10 Big Kitten returns Bella, while walking along a creek deep in the mountains, is again chased and cornered by a group of coyotes. Just then, Big Kitten, who has grown up, returns and defeats the coyotes. Big Kitten was a cougar, and they are gladly reunited. At this time, Jillian Edwards’ sweet voice singing Lean on Me, which resonates with background music, makes viewers as happy as Bella and Big Kitten, who meet after a long time and rub their noses.
11 Hit by a car Barely entering the highway, Bella crosses a busy road with cars and is eventually hit by a car. With sirens heard and police coming for her, Bella gets back up and walks toward the house where Lucas is, limping on her injured leg.
12 Finding her human Finally, Bella visits Lucas’ house, but Lucas moves out, the landlord calls the enforcement team, and Bella runs away again. Bella does not give up but visits Lucas’ office, Veterans Hospital, where she has been with Lucas. There, Mack and Teo recognize Bella and are surprised, and Bella is finally in Lucas’ arms. Olivia and Terri are also happily reunited. This scene brings viewers’ emotions to a climax and cheers. It is a happy ending that finally resolves the hardships Bella suffered during the two-and-a-half-year journey.
13 Standing up to the dogcatcher Another obstacle arises here. Dogcatcher Chuck showed up with the police to catch Bella. But with Lucas’ wits (which claims there is no reason to confiscate Bella because the VA hospital is federal property and is not part of the city of Denver), Bella is finally happy with Lucas and Olivia.
14 OST: Hold on Chord Overstreet’s “Hold on” is played as an insert song in the video, which selects the main scenes from the beginning to the end of the movie.
15 Final exam Review from Week 1 to Week 14

Table 4.

Online Lectures vs. Face-to-Face Lectures

Online lectures Face-to-face lectures Both Total
No. of students 817 142 65 1,024
Percentage 80 14 6 100

Table 5.

Which Skills Have Improved the Most?

Skills & abilities Listening Speaking Reading Writing Vocabulary Grammatical structures Contextual understanding Total
No. of students 336 90 34 59 59 130 316 1,024
Percentage 33 9 3 6 6 12 31 100

Table 6.

The Most Helpful Part of the Curriculum

1st Period 2nd Period 3rd Period Total
No. of students 110 394 520 1,024
Percentage 11 38 51 100

Table 7.

Has SLM Been Helpful?

Yes No Don’t Total
No. of students 778 0 0 778
Percentage 100 0 0 100

Table 8.

Curious About Next Session?

Yes No Total
No. of students 943 0 943
Percentage 100 0 100

Table 9.

Different Films Each Week?

Yes No Using 2 different movies before and after the midterm Both or not sure Total
No. of students 272 608 112 32 1,024
Percentage 27 59 11 3 100

Table 10.

How Much Improved?

Much improved Improved Average level Not much improved Not improved at all Total
No. of students 628 116 280 0 0 1,024
Percentage 62 11 27 0 0 100

Table 11.

Enhanced Language Skills

Skills & abilities Excitement Involvement Contextual understanding Vocabulary retention Not much difference Total
No. of students 334 259 226 205 0 1,024
Percentage 33 25 22 20 0 100
Week Topic YouTube Link
1 Introduction: The long road (Escape from Mexico: 400-mile march in search of America’s master) https://youtu.be/LRs8ydxa2Ik
2 Goodbye, Bella https://youtu.be/r3_IvtMPIi4
3 Big Kitten https://youtu.be/87IqS4kQqgE
4 Hunted by coyotes https://youtu.be/Te32eYR3jo4
5 Fun in the snow https://youtu.be/VqZAfqVCEnk
6 The Avalanche https://youtu.be/YfKjUgN_RcY
7 OST: Together from afar https://youtu.be/LfIZcvxpFR8?si=TYvX5rv4BZCQo7YS
8 Mid-term exam
9 A homeless dog https://youtu.be/mZYTLYXT-CQ
10 Big Kitten returns https://youtu.be/5XQqslDEoeI
11 Hit by a car https://youtu.be/hcWY1CYRCsw
12 Finding her human https://youtu.be/M47Aq3yj_NQ
13 Standing up to the dogcatcher https://youtu.be/2T51K4xsBjg
14 OST: Hold on https://youtu.be/X9YXqNNnKiw
15 Final exam