3 Ways Teachers Can Use the Hero’s Journey Framework

Build resilience, empathy and meaning.

David Weller


Photo by Mehdi MeSSrro on Unsplash

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Every student that chooses to learn a language is on their own hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey is a story outline of someone going on an adventure, encountering troubles and returning successfully. Popular stories have used this framework for thousands of years — from Hercules to Harry Potter.

Interestingly, the hero’s journey also maps onto our students’ learning and our own teaching experience.

We can use this knowledge to build empathy, resilience, and deeper meaning.

Let’s dig deeper.

The Hero’s Journey

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” — Joseph Campbell

The hero’s journey breaks down into a series of steps. The story starts and ends in the ordinary world, but the hero is a very different person by the end — they’ve been transformed by their experiences.

The hero’s journey was popularised by Joseph Campbell, but we’ll use the updated framework by Christopher Vogler.

  1. The ordinary world — life as normal.
  2. Call to adventure — a potential adventure appears.
  3. Refusal of the call — they resist the adventure.
  4. Meeting the mentor — a guide appears.
  5. Departure — they begin the adventure and leave their comfort zone.
  6. Tests, allies, enemies — they face challenges, make friends and meet enemies along the path.
  7. Approach to the inmost cave — approaching a huge challenge.
  8. Ordeal — the biggest challenge.
  9. Reward — that they get from completing the main challenge.
  10. The road back — the journey back.
  11. Resurrection — a final challenge.
  12. Return — the return to a normal life, but hugely improved.



David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.