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Drama in the EFL Classroom

As an English teacher with a joint degree in Drama, I know how effective drama is to capture the attention of the students in the ESL/EFL classroom. Drama activities would sometimes have surprising and unexpected results. ESL/EFL professionals need to use this medium more because the artificial world of the classroom can be transformed into a quasi-real language situation and provides an endless amount of opportunities for student’s personal growth. We cannot only teach grammar and phonetics with drama but also it has the power to transform the actors as well as the audience. We shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool to reach our students.

There are obviously numerous benefits in using Drama in the ESL/EFL classroom and

. We can sum them up as follows:

  • the acquisition of meaningful, fluent interaction in the target language;

  • the assimilation of a whole range of pronunciation and prosodic features in a fully contextualized and interactional manner;

  • the fully contextualized acquisition of new vocabulary and structure;

  • an improved sense of confidence in the student in his or her ability to learn the target language.”

Drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.  Ideally, the teacher will take a less dominant role in the language class and let the students explore the language activities.  In the student centered classroom, every student is a potential teacher for the group.

Drama for second language learners can provide an opportunity to develop the imagination of the students. The students can go beyond the here and now and even 'walk in the shoes' of another. It provides an opportunity for independent thinking  (McCaslin 1996). Students are encouraged to express their own ideas and contribute to the whole.  Creative drama will offer exercises in critical thinking and the chance for the students to be creative. A good example of this is role-plays in small groups The ESL/EFL group will have many situations where they can develop their own ideas as well as skills of cooperation when interacting with classmates.  The group work builds social awareness and understanding as we walk in the 'shoes of another'. Drama gives an excellent method for studying human nature and working in harmony.  The play acting provides the opportunity for a healthy release of emotion in a safe setting which can work to relieve the tension of learning in a second language.

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