Drama in TEFL Classes during the Pandemic

Using Drama education in teaching, particularly in teaching foreign languages, provides countless advantages. English has become a natural part of our everyday lives, it has become inevitable in advertising, shopping, media, job interviews, using teaching, learning and assessing platforms. The knowledge of a foreign language gives young children considerable advantages not only for entertaining or for talking with youngsters like them from other countries, but also for getting a job or studying abroad.

Researchers have been studying the ways in which children learn more effectively and underlined the neurological, natural advantages that drama has. Because drama has clear links with emotions and feelings, teachers need to be aware of the fact that emotions strongly direct and focus our attention, help us remember information and moments of personal significance. The students experience the emotional thrill of role-plays, of feeling as if it were real, in this way they develop emotional intelligence, develop social behavior, practice speaking.

Acting, role playing, group interaction was impossible during the pandemic, that is why the teachers thought about new ways in which drama could be used during the classes. The students discussed online about the plays they would like to study, about the future performances, the teaching was mainly based on monologues, the students were sharing their ideas with each other using a tool such as Google Docs, they were also recording themselves at home, practicing their parts, some others who were good at editing were creating video and photo collages easily and this was a good way for them to improve both their IT skills and their language skills. The students in the secondary school used applications such as Story Jumper or Book Creator to make up projects using images, photos, the text created by them, soundtracks and their voice.

It has been proved that children learn better through playing, through multi-sensory experience. The drama also uses a series of strategies that offer access to learners with different preferred learning styles. Children in drama learn not to sit for long periods, they move around, separate and combine visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities, explore meaning and this is how they learn best.

Making students sit for too long can be considered detrimental to learning, as through action and interaction students of any age can learn and remember physically and affectively.  This time students do not sit passively in front of the computer expecting the teacher do most of the talking, they get involved, overpass the fear of making mistakes when using English, the students having the possibility to study language in authentic situations.

The obvious advantages of drama in education lie not only in the ability to improve oral communication skills, but also to improve learner’s confidence which will ultimately lead to the development of positive self-concepts.

English teachers are aware of the fact that a teaching method which would work for all students does not exist, that is why they need to use a variety of methods to maintain students’ interest in the online class. Drama activities can increase students’ self-esteem, language skills, social skills, as well as their creativity, their cultural knowledge. The English Books for students contain short drama activities like role-play, interview, improvisation, which are very helpful for the teacher who wants to engage the students in the activity.  These activities are used to develop fluent speaking, express opinions, agreement or disagreement, ask for services or information, practice translation, improve pronunciation etc. It is easier to use these short drama activities during the English class

Students can receive tasks like reading a text and making some drawings about  the topic of the text, others can read about immigrants and their children left in the country and interpret their situation, some others can keep diaries about the difficulties they had to face during the pandemic, others can write dialogues or interviews with the main characters of the texts they are studying. There are many ways in which students can use their different learning styles and types of intelligences. Drama techniques stimulate students’ imagination and practice their abilities of communication and listening in an enjoyable process, even in the online class. The teachers guide the whole activity, using the Zoom for example, creating rooms for the students in the same group to practise. They give a model of pronunciation, stress, rhythm, explain the new vocabulary, the idioms, the cultural aspects. Assessing is also part of teaching and the classes based on drama activities could use as methods of evaluation the assessing of language fluency and accuracy. Evaluation has to build up students’ confidence but at the same time students have to learn to use language appropriately and accurately. Teachers can assess the effectiveness of drama activities by giving some comments on grammar and pronunciation at the end of the activities. Another important method is for the teacher to encourage the students to do self-assessment or peer- assessment at the end of the class.

The success of learning English is based on the methodological approach to teaching. In the past, the focus was on the grammar approach to teaching, but in that situation the students were not afforded the opportunity to study language in authentic situations. Nowadays, the focus is more on the background and on the oral communication which can be improved while using drama activities. We, as educators, need to turn this strenuous situation into a constructive teaching moment.

Bibliography
1. Baldwin, P. (2012). With Drama in Mind- Real Learning in Imagined Worlds. London Press;
2. Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Essex: Longman
3. Harmer, J. (2007). How to Teach English. Essex: Pearson Education Limited;
4. Philips, S. (1999). Drama with children. Oxford: Oxford University Press;

References

www.storyjumper.com/
bookcreator.com/
eslbrains.com/lesson/
en.islcollective.com/video-lessons/brave-trailer

 

prof. Liana Todoran

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/liana.todoran

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