through drama Teaching english
in a conventional way helps students with their writing skills or producing sentences grammatically accurate but does not offer them the confidence of using the language in a communicative way, involving feelings, ideas, and/or emotions.
through drama is an alternative way, which gives a different meaning to the language production. The learners through this approach enhance their linguistic abilities, as they are involved actively in the text. The students are more motivated and less bored and reluctant as they have the opportunity to operate the language getting a feeling of personal fulfillment.
It is amazing how effectively drama captures the attention of the students. Drama activities provide an endless amount of opportunities for students’ personal growth. Teachers should not underestimate this powerful teaching tool to reach their students.
Drama can also be used to bring literature to life for the students. It boosts a simple text, as it recycles new vocabulary, helping this way the learners. The fun aspect should be taken in consideration because when the students are enjoying an activity they are learning better, setting aside the shyness or fear of using english
, which often blocks learning. When the students are having fun, they relax, they are open to new concepts and learning will occur in a stress-free environment. They absorb the new language forgetting how hard it is. This way the student’s perception of the language learning is changing from negative to positive therefore it is a huge plus for the learning process.
The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued. Sometimes we do not spend enough time to encourage students to use their imagination, which makes the ordinary something amazing. Imagination can magically inspire new ideas.
There are activities where students are listening, speaking, reading and writing for real communicative purposes that are meaningful to them and make them act, be the protagonists of their learning process. And because we want them to learn through their own actions, enjoy and bring to life the target language, drama becomes a key strategy in the english
There is no doubt putting drama in teaching ESL is effective, although it is not an easy thing for the inexperienced. Putting up a play requires a lot of things to be taken into consideration before all the action. Personally, I have met difficulties and obstacles such as: disagreement from colleagues, limited space, low budgets, etc. Obstacles like these should not prevent the teacher from valuing drama in teaching ESL. It is a unique way for students to develop self expression using language creatively.
Drama techniques are a great way to help students improve their writing and reading skills. Very motivating writing activities (previous to the performance, which to the student is the ultimate goal) are: writing short dialogues individually, writing scripts in small groups, writing songs and poems, writing a story in order to later develop a script.
Warm-up games such as miming the name of a film or book to guess, is a good idea to motivate learners while at the same time it prepares them for doing drama.
Drama activities such as role-play and communication games, help to extend, retain and reinforce vocabulary and sentence structure. Role-play is a common activity in the classroom, which suits all personalities. Learners use their imagination getting involved in a hypothetical situation and interact with other characters in a range of possibilities. Role-play types include sketches, story dramatization, interviews, debates, business meetings, just to name a few. Role-play is a powerful tool. It teaches cooperation, decision making skills and encourages and exchange of knowledge between the students. These aspects make role-playing beneficial because the students are learning from each other. Other than that, there is an obvious development of communication skills; role-play also encourages leadership, team work, authentic listening skills, builds confidence and self-esteem, responsibility, problem solving, management and organizational skills. These are tools that can be used in all aspects of students’ lives. These skills can be used in the future job market when the students will work with others or even in future job interviews when you need to think a quick answer to the potential employer’s unexpected question.
Unfortunately many teachers refuse to recognize the power of using ESL role-plays in the classroom, preferring traditional teaching methods such as repetition, recitation and reading text from books. They are afraid of losing control of their class, they feel incapable to teach drama and they consider it just playing and not a learning opportunity. However, the most common excuse is lack of time. ESL role-plays are not an addition to the current curriculum but can be used as a stand alone method of teaching that can show significant results in a short period of time.
An idea of using drama to teach english
In order to write a quick script for a play, a simple way is to pick a photo of a famous person (politician, actor, singer, etc.) from a magazine or newspaper and paste it on a piece of lined paper. Underneath the photo write 10 questions you would like to ask the person. Create imaginary possible answers for each question. When you work out the dialogue, you can transform it to a script with stage directions. This is a good idea for a role-play, conducting an interview, one student is the person being interviewed and his/her partner is the interviewer.
Educationists gave more attention to the use of drama in education when they realized that an important developmental process for children is the need to play. Educators and researchers in linguistics have given the values of drama in education. Briefly summarized below:
- Maley and Duff (1978): Drama releases imagination and energy and this could be considered as an educational objective.
- Fernandez and Coil (1986): Drama encourages students to exercise their sensitivity and imagination and thus makes learning more realistic and meaningful.
- Mordecai (1985): Drama increases motivation and provides the incentive to work hard. It also motivates the teacher to meet the needs of the students.
- Susan Stern (1980): Drama heightens self-esteem, motivation, spontaneity, increases capacity for empathy and lowers sensitivity to rejection. All these facilitate communication and provide an appropriate psycholinguistic climate for language learning.