Have you ever felt like you understand a situation around you, but you just have a hard time responding to that stimulus immediately?
Maybe it’s in the middle of an argument and you can only think of a come back two hours later, or perhaps your interlocutor reacts unexpectedly and leaves you speechless.
I guess we’ve all been there.
In order to avoid that from happening once again, we could draw some help from the creator of Method Acting, Konstantin Stanislavski. But this time, we could focus on his concept of readiness and how it can aid spoken communication through active listening.
Why use Stanislavski’s readiness concept into Active Listening?
The imagination that leads to faith begins at the very moment the actors allow themselves to be available for any kind of stimuli the environment might present. By developing a sense of readiness in his actors, Stanislavski aimed at fostering acceptance of external stimuli. This technique demands from the actor a volatile, agile and alert mind, which is capable to respond to these stimuli through action, whether physical or verbal. And that is exactly the link between acting and ELT: attempting to develop the learner’s listening so that skills such as perceiving, analyzing and responding to auditory stimuli can be enhanced.
This activity in particular intends to create a sense of emergency that leads to deep focus and readiness. Just like during rehearsals for an actor, the students are faced with a situation which demands high levels of attention, language recollection and creativity and allows them to let the target language sink in through active listening and drilling.
I hope you have fun with this one as well!
Listening + Method Acting: readiness
Age: Young adults and Adults
Language level: A2-C1
Aims: Actively involve learners in the listening process; promote sense of readiness to perceive, analyze and respond to auditory stimuli; encourage metacognition development.
Interaction Pattern: Whole group, pair work, group work, individual work.
Material: Course book; recording; audio player; white board or similar.
Timing: 60 min (full lesson)
1. Before listening, activate learners’ schemata by discussing the overall situation in which the speakers will be in. You could come up with questions or use the ones in the ‘pre-listening section’ in the course book you usually follow. Ask follow up questions to personalize the situation and elicit as much language as possible such as: ‘What would you say in this situation?’; ‘What do you expect the other person will reply to you?’.
2. Tell learners they are going to listen to a conversation, but you will pause the recording a few times. Every time you pause, they will be given thirty seconds to write down what they believe the next sentence will be. (Tip: depending on your class goal, pause right before the target language for that class is used in order to draw extra attention to it). Tell students they are also supposed to check if their predictions were correct when you continue playing the recording. Play recording, stopping before language you would like them to focus on (give learners enough time during pauses).
3. Ask learners to compare in pairs what they had predicted and what was actually said. Write on the board: ‘Can the sentences you predicted actually be part of this conversation?’; ‘Why do you think the speakers decided to use these words/sentences to continue the conversation?’; ‘What else could they have said?’. Learners discuss in pairs.
4. Tell learners they will listen to the conversation again and you will stop the recording at the exact same parts. However, this time, instead of writing down predictions, they should speak up what comes next. Play recording, stopping before language you would like them to focus on. Learners speak in unison during pauses. Play as many times as needed until most learners remember the target language by memory.
5. Assign learners a few questions to develop metacognition of their listening skills, such as: ‘What were you listening to?’; ‘What helped you to understand the text?’; ‘What prevented you from getting the correct answer?’; ‘What did you do to understand as much of the text as possible and remember it afterwards?’. Give learners a few minutes to reflect on their own listening processes. Afterwards, divide learners in small groups and have them share and discuss their findings with their peers.
If you would like to have this lesson plan as a PDF, click here
Many have heard this term but few outside the Drama field know what it actually stands for. Method Acting is the title given to the acting methodology created by Konstantin Stanislavski, the Russian director who is still one of the most influent thinkers and practitioners of the dramatic arts until this day. It is a rigorous system, which intends to guide actors through their craft from character-building, to rehearsals and performance.
Among many crucial topics covered in the Method, one can be particularly interesting for language teachers, especially when it comes to listening instruction: the concept of faith.
Truth on the stage is whatever we can believe in with sincerity, whether in ourselves or in our colleagues
For Stanislavski, communication can only be truthful, meaningful and purposeful on stage if the actors truly believe – or have faith – that what is happening at that moment between them is real. And this concept can be very useful to help our usually forced, unnatural and artificial listening classes into something students can actually relate to, actively.
Why use Stanislavski’s faith concept into Active Listening?
By inviting learners to be participants in the conversation they are about to hear, not only is their schemata activated but also their faith in its reality developed. It gives them purpose to listen and enhances the sense of usefulness and meaningfulness about the target language. Instead of passively eavesdropping on the speakers, students are invited to actively ‘be in the conversation’ with them. It also stimulates their promptitude abilities to respond or react to what is listened to at the time of speech, as they would have to do in real life.
Thinking about these benefits and applications into modern listening instruction, I thought about a possible lesson plan combining these two worlds and you can find it below. Hope you all enjoy and test it!
And, as usual, have fun with the games!!!
Listening + Method Acting: faith
Age: Young adults and Adults
Language level: A2-C1
Aims: Actively involve learners in the listening process; Promote sense of belief (faith) that the situation portrayed in the recording is personally relevant, useful and meaningful to learners; Develop skills such as listening for gist, listening for detail, promptitude to react or respond to interlocutor.
Interaction Pattern: Whole group, pair work, group work, individual work.
Material: Cards with background information about speakers; Course book; Recording; Audio player; White board or similar
Timing: 60 min (full lesson)
1. Before listening, distribute cards to learners describing the situation divided in different points of view. For example, if there are two people talking, half of the learners receive a card describing background information and motivation of speaker A, while the other half receives cards with similar information, but about speaker B.
2. Divide learners in two groups, according to the character they received. Tell students they ARE these characters now. Assign some questions to get them emotionally involved, such as: ‘Where are you?’; ‘Why do you want to have this conversation?’; ‘Why are you going to talk to THIS particular person?’; ‘Which pieces of information do you expect to get from the other person?’. Have learners discuss their motivations in groups.
3. Tell learners they will listen to the conversation and their task is to check if the motivations they predicted are the same in the conversation. Play the recording. Ask for interpretations from the whole class. Ask follow up questions such as: ‘So where are you, actually?’; ‘Why did you choose to talk to this person really?’; ‘What is your real motivation to have this conversation?’.
4. Assign first question to develop listening for gist. You could come up with one or use the one in the course book you usually follow. Play the recording. Check answer. Ask follow up questions such as: ‘What was you overall intention while speaking to this person?’; ‘Were you satisfied with the result of your interaction with this person? Why?’.
5. Assign other tasks to develop listening for specific information. You could come up with some or use the ones in the course book you usually follow. Play the recording as many times as necessary. Learners compare answers in pairs, justifying it. Check answers. Ask follow up questions such as: ‘What motivated you to say ___?’; ‘Why did you use the word /form ____ ?’.
6. After listening, assign tasks that promote interaction between learners and characters, such as: creating a script with an alternate ending, based on the motivation and language learners believe would be more suitable and realistic for this situation; reporting the conversation based on the character’s point of view (gossip to a third party).
If you would like this lesson plan as a PDF, click here
So much of what we speak daily consists of reporting facts. Gossip, news, jokes, catching up, recollecting a fact, explaining causes of injuries to a doctor, reporting past procedures, lying. So much language use devoted to narrating fiction or facts. Yet, classrooms still lack storytelling time and teachers still see it as a distraction or time filler.
We often ask students how their weeks went as they enter the classroom, although seldom do we truly focus on the language being produced at that point. Or worse, too much focus on form rather than meaning could inhibit students from sharing future personal experiences and that could end up damaging rapport.
Teacher: So how was your weekend?
Student: My dog die.
Teacher: DIED. Can you repeat?
Student: (sobbing) My dog died.
Storytelling is part of being human. Also, it is a great tool to enable students to connect to their peers and teachers while practicing the target language. In expressing their personal views and experiences freely and feeling their voice is truly being heard, they allow themselves to strengthen bonds and untie any emotional knots that might be sabotaging their language acquisition process.
I have recently taken part in a workshop entitled ‘Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories’ given by David Heathfield. Apart from proposing a few activities to use storytelling in ELT, he also pointed out a few academic findings regarding the effects of storytelling in our brain.
One of the most interesting experiments in order to investigate what happens to the brain when there is an exchange of personal stories is called neural coupling. Research on the issue has found that the same areas of the brain of the listener and the speaker light up, almost at the same time, when a story is being told. As if the listener’s brain would ‘guess’ where the story will go as the speaker tells it.
This leads to building bonds and confidence through sharing a narrative. Steven Pinker, a sociobiologist heavily influenced by Chomsky, affirms that:
“The areas of the brain that processes certain senses are activated though being engrossed in a compelling narrative.” PINKER, 2007.
One of the storytelling activities in the workshop really stuck with me for the many benefits that may arise from including it in an ELT lesson. It has the power to foster better rapport among students due to the fact that they have to, literally, put themselves in their colleagues’ place. Additionally, it provides them with the opportunity to explore not only verbal, but also physical language to convey their message. Also, it might help students with short attention spans to focus through observing their colleagues globally, not just focusing on what they are saying, but also what they are doing. Finally, it ensures enough time for students to play with the target language as they please, making attempts at including it in their everyday linguistic repertoire in a safe environment.
Therefore, after considering these many upsides to this activity, I have elaborated a lesson plan inspired by it and I hope you can enjoy and apply these techniques in your classrooms too.
Enjoy and, as usual, have fun with the games.
Drama Game: Storytelling: Listen, judge, repeat– Vocabulary/Function freer practice
Type: Vocabulary / Function practice
Age: Young adults and Adults
Language level: A2-C1
Aim: Create a social bond and practice target vocabulary / function freely
Interaction Pattern: trios
Timing: 20-25 min
The suggestion here is to insert this storytelling activity after you have already presented and worked on the target language in a very controlled way. Therefore, students should be aware of what the target language is, how to use it (form) and when to use it (meaning). Only then would you ask them to attempt using it in a freer manner, combining it with personal memories or creating a narrative with it.
So the recommendation would be to assign this task at the last half an hour of the lesson in which you introduced the topic or as a reviewing activity at the beginning of the following lesson. In the first scenario, it would be used more quickly as freer practice; in the second, you could devote a full lesson just for the practice of the target language, providing late correction of what was performed during the storytelling.
Set the task carefully and make sure students understand what each member of the team is supposed to do: Tell your students they are going to be in trios and one of them will tell the others a story; they should decide who will tell the story first, who will listen and who is the judge; the person who tells the story has to use the language learned in the lesson and tell a story (real or not) in a very interesting manner; the listener has to pay close attention and look for mannerisms, mimics, intonation, tone of voice AND content. The listener will have to retell the story AS THEIR PARTNER, with the same mannerisms, mimics, intonation, tone of voice AND exact content; the judge observes everything and gives feedback in the end on vocabulary use and fluency to the storyteller and on retelling the story accurately to the listener.
To make sure students really understood the task and know exactly what they are expected to do, you should use Instruction Check Questions, or ICQs. You should prepare them beforehand baring in mind the difficulties that may arise in comprehending the procedures to be followed. For more on the topic, here are a few links to help you:
Set the objectives carefully and make sure students understand WHY they are to perform this task: Tell your students the objective of the storyteller is to practice the language learned in class and improve their fluency; the objective of the listener is to practice retelling stories they have heard and improve their language use (spoken and physical); the objective of the judge is to observe if the other people in the group followed the instructions thoroughly and practice giving constructive feedback.
Especially when proposing activities that are not common place in ELT – such as this – it is advisable to make sure students know the reason they are being asked to perform the task. In other words, be prepared to answer questions such as: why in hell should they play games in class? How can any of this help me show my boss the English course he is paying for is bringing me results?
Students are a lot more receptive to new classroom practices if they comprehend the outcomes expected from using these tools for language learning. You will not have to explain the objectives every time. Nevertheless, you ought to at least for the first time you introduce an unusual activity.
Students take turns performing their tasks: first the storyteller tells the story; second, the listener reenacts it; third, the judge gives the previous two feedback on both their performances.
Now, students change roles: storytellers are now judges, listeners are now storytellers and judges are now listeners. Repeat all procedures.
Once more students change roles, taking the ones they haven’t performed yet.
While students perform the task, you can monitor their work and take notes on ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’: ‘the good’ are examples of successful use of the target language; ‘the bad’ are examples of language that is not necessarily wrong, but can be improved; ‘the ugly’ are examples of misusage of the target language that should be corrected. You could use these notes to make an extra reference sheet for the following class and hand it out to students or you could provide them with a late correction activity as a follow up to the storytelling.
As students finish the task, praise them on their accomplishments, point out what has to be worked on and ask them for feedback on their production during the activity. Alternatively, you may ask them how they FELT during the activity and how they think it helped them practice the language.
OMG, you’re so creative! How did you think of that?
I really need your help. I want to do something different with my students and you are so creative… Can you think of an activity for me to use with them?
I wish I were as creative as you are. I would never think of that!
These are some of the many utterances I have heard from colleagues over the years, whether in the teacher’s room or at workshops. All of them have something in common, though: the concept that creativity is innate. Moreover, those who have been graced with the gift of being creative will always think outside the box and control their creativity, being able to access it whenever they want or need it.
All rubbish, of course.
Creativity is hard work for the brain. It is connection, resemblance, contrast and link. Plus, as most of what goes on in the brain, it is inertia.
Cerebral activity is mostly guided by inertia due to the fact that doing things the way it has always been done saves energy – and that’s the brain’s ultimate goal. Therefore, if making unexpected connections between external stimuli and recorded memories has been part of your mental activities for a long time, it will happen most frequently.
And what do we usually call people who make unexpected connections in order to create something new or solve a problem? Creative.
I was fortunate to have parents who were extremely fond of arts in general and exposed me to several forms of art from an early age. So I grew up having to deal with these complex connections between visual, auditory and kinaesthetic stimuli. Actually, after some time, that became the modus operandi of my learning process. Nowadays I learn a lot easier when bombarded with multi sensorial pieces of information at a time. It has become how my brain works, all the time.
Most of my colleagues whose quotations were mentioned earlier were not used to making these kind of connections and had traditional educational backgrounds. Their brains were simply not used to linking far-fetched ideas and memories. On the other hand, when it came to focusing on a topic at a time, they were a lot better then me at solving issues or performing tasks.
Then when it came to ‘bringing creativity into the classroom’, they thought they would not be able to incorporate it into their teaching for they themselves lacked the skill.
Everyone has the power to change mental processes and create new synapses. It might be more arduous for some, though not impossible. I was not different from them owing to an inborn characteristic – I had just been doing it longer.
So how can teachers, more or less inclined to being creative, deal with and include innovation and creativity in their classrooms?
A panel about creativity in ELT was presented at IATEFL 2016 in Birmingham and the panelists attempted to shed some light into the matter. Here are some key ideas I personally took from each talk:
-We should try to bring different domains into our classrooms in order to be more innovative as practitioners
-Multimodal communication could be incorporated into our lesson plan, having a topic be explored though different media (text, video, sound, body language, etc…)
-Combination is key for creativity: try to make or elicit link between concepts
-Teachers choose to be creative, it is not inborn. It might seem like hard work to some, but it pays off in the end
-Empowering teachers during teacher training is imperative in order for them to feel confident to be creative themselves
-One concept that might be helpful: seeing yourself as a creative writer when putting your lesson plan together.
-Therefore, engaging in creative writing or attending workshops on the subject might assist with transferring these skills into the classroom
-Another external concept to be considered: teachers, like actors, are improvisational performers. Both have to react to the here ad now, coming up with instant physical and mental responses to issues that may arise. As a result, taking improv lessons or delving into the work of Theatre theorists such as Stanislavski can lead to a practice of disciplined improvisation (structure + freedom)
-Creativity means variety: in content, media, form, etc…
-Ludic behaviour and critical thinking also play major roles in fostering a creative environment in the classroom
-Creative interactions stem from the learners’ engagement
-It is paramount to be creative WITH students, instead of being creative myself, as a teacher
-Affective learning might play a large role in making students feel safe to attempt being more creative in class
-Practical food for thought when planning your class: Does a creative activity necessarily lead to creative interactions in ELT? Does this activity allow students to be creators? If not, how can we ensure students’ creativity will be triggered by the proposed task?
-The teacher’s role has to be redefined if creativity is to be fostered in ELT: from teachers as syllabus followers to actively producing teachers
-We should be ‘doers’, not just ‘givers’
-A suggestion: a 50-50 ratio between attending to syllabus and promoting freer activities
-Writing can be a first stimulus to incorporating creativity in the classroom
-Writing does not have to be an essay, it could be a paragraph
-Stimulate them to think and discuss a topic thoroughly, making enough connections to other stimuli in order to provide them enough opportunity for creative links to be made before they actually put the ideas on paper
-Practical assignments fostering creative writing:
-Vlog: writing a script, instead of making the video
-Lyrics: writing for music ideas that have been muted
-Dramatic texts: gapping lines and filling it out unexpectedly
Well, I hope these ideas sparked new synapses in all of you and that creative thoughts are flooding your brains right now! I know mine is overflowing! May your classrooms and lesson plans be filled with innovative, fun ways to learn English!
And, as usual, have fun with the games!
In 2013 I was feeling lonely in my quest for games and drama techniques to use in the classroom, and so I started looking for people who shared my passion for the subject.
This search pointed me to one of the most interesting, intelligent, creative, soulful teachers I have ever had the privilege to meet: Marisol Santana.
She is the founder of TESOL Drama and gives workshops to teachers both in the USA and in Europe on how to incorporate theatre in ELT. It was during one of these workshops in Paris that I first had the chance to learn how, not only drama games, but also theatre as a whole could be incorporated into the ELT lesson plan with great benefits.
Needless to say, we hit it off immediately and she has since been a great colleague and someone I profoundly admire.
Today we learn a little more about her and her craft, as she kindly agreed to answer a few questions to expose the processes she uses to integrate art and language learning.
ESL DRAMA QUEEN: When did you first start working with Drama as a learning medium for ELT?
Marisol Santana: After graduating from NYU’s program in Educational Theatre, I began experimenting with a TESOL certification institute and created a professional development program for teachers in 2010, which taught techniques on how to teach English through drama.
ESLDQ: Has adding Drama techniques to your classroom affected the overall learning process? How so?
MS: Using drama techniques in the classroom increases engagement in a major way. Learning a language can be quite tedious. Drama makes it interactive and fun, as it stimulates all types of learners, whether they be kinesthetic, visual, or audible learners (Howard Gardner, Theory of Multiple Intelligences). Drama stimulates confidence and risk-taking in speaking and conversation for ELL’s.
ESLDQ: One of the most voiced concerns about integrating Drama and the traditional language classroom is that students may not accept participating in some activities. How is it with your groups?
MS: There are many drama activities that can be modified for students may be shy or inexperienced in drama. I have found that the more shy students are still willing to write scenes and engage in simple role plays. It takes time, but a teacher who uses drama can increase dramatic practice slowly, as students become more comfortable with using some of the less performance based drama techniques, they are then more willing to participate more and more as a safe ensemble with their peers is established.
ESLDQ: What other challenges have you faced regarding planning, teaching or assessing in your Drama ELT class and how did you go about them?
MS: Assessment is always a challenge in drama, because I like to give high grades to all who are participating. My biggest challenge in adult ESL has been the inconsistancy in attendence. Integrating drama into the classroom is very effective, but with an inconsistancy in attendance, it is hard to scafforld and have longer term drama unit plans. If attendance is mandatory , say in an elementary or secondary school, these challenges become less and many possibilities for longer drama unit plans can be prepared and implemented successfully.
ESLDQ: What would you suggest a teacher who is just starting to input Drama techniques in ELT?
MS: I would suggest that the teacher start out slow, and let her students experience how fun some dramatic activities can be. Once they get a taste of them, they will be hooked! The teacher may want to start with writing simple dialogues and collaborative readings using new vocabulary or grammar.
ESLDQ: Finally, what message would you leave teachers who are unsure to use Drama in their classrooms?
MS: I would say: Try it- you will be amazed with how drama enlivens the class! Even with one simple drama game, you will stimulate energy and engagement instantly! Language learning should be fun, and incorporating drama and the arts is probably the most organic and easy way to make that happen!
Marisol Santana (Tirelli) has performed in various venues in Los Angeles and New York City for the past twenty years. She has taught and developed curriculum in drama, voice, and ESL for grades K-12 as well as at the college level. Marisol is a graduate of Pepperdine University, with a BA degree in Theatre Arts/Acting, where she also studied opera with the Mozartum, in Florence, Italy. She is a graduate of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education with a Masters degree in Educational Theatre. In 2011, her play Fashion the Musical won Best Overall Musical for the West Village Musical Theatre Festival. Marisol is the founder of TESOL Drama and the TESOL International Film and Art Exhibit that produces “Teaching-Artist Salon” professional development workshops and exhibits in New York City, Paris, and Los Angeles. She is a doctoral candidate in Art and Art Education at Teachers College – Columbia University while she continues to teach and develop her multidisciplinary approach to art-making and education.
For more about Marisol and TESOL Drama:
Unfocused, indisciplined, selfish, uninterested.
These are some of the most recurring words on my report cards every semester from kindergarten until high school.
I was that one student who asks too much, gets bored too easily, has short attention span and resides on the edge of weirdness. Thus, most of my teachers simply did not know how to handle me.
I was an artistic kid who broke out in song in the middle of class, doodled my whole notebook to the point there was little space for actual note-taking and was famous for impersonating colleagues and teachers. And did I mention the nonstop singing?
So how come I survived school and became a scholar wannabe myself? Through art.
It took me years and more that few visits to the educational psychologist to figure out that there was nothing wrong with me. I was just different. My head was different. Instead of dealing with one thing at a time, my head was a constant web browser with 15 tabs open! And I was using them all at once!
As soon as I figured that out, a revolution came about: instead of forcing myself to focus on one task for quite some time as my teachers instructed me to do, I started having 4 or 5 tasks in front of me at the same time. I would tackle them in parts, shifting from one to another while intercalating them with doodling, singing, dancing or fiction writing. It took me a little longer, but I started nailing all of my assignments and actually being able to do them all.
Highly creative people are wired that way because creativity is nothing but the connection of previously conceived ideas that were separated, and now are confronted. So my highly creative brain is way more interested in connecting ideas than focusing in acquiring new ones. And by giving it time and space to create between input sessions, it became easier and easier to focus during those periods.
From this very personal experience I have noticed that there are so many different learning styles and I, as a teacher, should try to embrace and celebrate these differences in the classroom. However, it is not unusual to hear teachers complaining about fidgety students in their classrooms. So how can we tackle that situation, then?
Ways to cater for these highly creative beings are: give them space to breathe and process all the information that they are coping with both external and internally; prepare activities that promote critical thinking or a connection between concepts; include art in your classroom, in the form of drawings, fiction writing, poetry writing, dancing/movement or drama games.
I’m sure that after a little Drama, the unfocused, indisciplined, selfish, uninterested humans in your class will give you no drama at all.
Some might say they can define the whole nature of a relationship.
So how to facilitate student-student or teacher-students first impressions to be favourable and make sure it stands as a solid foundation for further positive rapport in the classes to come?
As part of classroom management, establishing rapport and dealing with different cultures and moods in the classroom are always a challenge.
One suggestion is to initiate every course with an ice breaker and keep stimulating students to create and strengthen a social bond between the whole class (teacher included) throughout the course.
This does not mean everyone has to become best friends, or even keep in touch outside the classroom.
What is key here is to promote rapport via respect of each other’s individuality – which can be fostered by simply having students not hearing, but truly listening to each other and civilly handling differences in the classroom.
Do not fret though, my friends. The games are here for you.
Today’s post is a very special ice breaker that not only has a social aspect to it, but can also help you to check language level placement. Making your life easier by killing two birds with one stone: do you like the sound of that? Me too.
Drama Game: Word Cloud– Ice Breaker
Language level: all
Aim: Create a social bond and check level placement
Material: Board, A4 paper
Timing: 10-15 min (depending on size of the group)
Draw a cloud almost as big as your whiteboard and write some words (names, places, occupations…) or numbers that reflect truths about you. However, don’t write sentences. Just leave all of those scattered pieces of information on the board for students to see once they enter the classroom.
Have the word cloud drawn beforehand, so that you don’t waste class time and also when students arrive they can be curious about what’s on the board.
Greet students and welcome them to their new English course.
Tell them that before starting, you should get to know each other and this is the chance they have to meet you.
Point out that on the board there are some pieces of information about you. However, you are not going to tell them what they are. THEY should ask you questions and the answers should be the words they see. They cannot use the words on the board, though.
E.g.: “What do you do?” is a valid question and the answer is on the board (teacher). Whereas “Who are Tania and Roberto?” is not a valid question. They could ask “What are your parents’ names?”, for example.
Write information on the board according to questions you expect students to know by now. Bear in mind their language level and age when thinking about what you will present them with. Also, make the range of information wide enough so that students have an idea of who you are and what you stand for.
Remember: you can only ask for what you have.
Students take turns asking questions while you answer ALL of them.
Cross out the words and numbers they ‘get it right’ from the board until they have guessed all of them.
After it is over, invite them to draw their own word clouds on an A4 sheet of paper. Give them a few minutes for that.
Depending on the size of the group, decide if you will ask every student to show their cloud and have the whole group play the game together or divide them in smaller groups. If you go for smaller groups, make sure you ask them to report information they found out about their colleagues with the rest of the class in the end.
This activity is multifaceted due to the fact that you are not only giving your students the opportunity to review vocabulary and structure they have previously learned, you are also creating a personal bond with them. All of this while you assess their use of language through question formation.
And it’s fun, of course!
Dear ESL Drama Gamers, a promise is a promise!
Here is the second part of the summarized inspiratons IATEFL 2015 provided me.
Lots of artsy love,
ESL Drama Queen
Here is the second part of the series of posts about my favourite talks and workshops throughout the four days of IATEFL 2015 Annual Conference and my personal comments about each of them.
Some of the quotes were heard at events specifically about arts, some of them at talks that had completely different topics. Despite being heterogenous, all of them are relevant to one who is eager to include drama games in ELT in one way or another, for transdisciplinary approaches require transdisciplinary theoretical basis.
A few of them may seem obvious, however I believe that the strongest epiphany one can have is truly noticing for the first time what the eyes failed to see for so long.
I hope they can be as useful and inspiring to you as they were to me. And may you all sail through the rough yet fulfilling, known yet fairly unexplored waters of using art, theatre and creativity in ELT.
Uncovering expertise in coursebook writing
Julie Norton & Heather Buchanan
Bio: University lectures at the University of Leeds and Nottingham and materials writers for Oxford University Press.
Practical constrains – word count, time and spread limit
Creativity constrains – using the right kind of language, linking deadlines with creativity
Following the brief – who are you writing for, coping with changes in briefs during the project
Managing the process”
ESL Drama Queen: When a teacher starts creating his/her own material some of these challenges don’t apply, though some do. For instance, planning the format – how much space on a page is going to be utilized and why – choosing the best language to get maximum effectiveness and managing the time taking to prepare and execute activities. This also applies to developing new games and inserting them in the lesson plan.
Write with someone
Be prepared to take criticism
Think about how other people would use the material
Be self-critical, meticulous, flexible Imagine what it will look like on the page
Manage your time within the day
Be aware of your own principles about teaching and learning and the principles of the project
Write answer key
Start at end point and work your way backwards
Get classroom experience
Be alert for new ideas”
ESL Drama Queen: All of these tips are also applicable when inserting drama games in a lesson plan. The best way to make the best out of a drama game is to sync it to the teaching point of the day and using the game as a means to achieve that goal. In order to do that, the process is very similar to that of writing brand new material: you have to look at the goal you want to achieve in the end of the class and think about each phase you are going to develop in order to get there. Then analyze the games you know and think about which one could help each phase you developed and how they could be included in the lesson. Bear in mind these tips above as well and the lesson will probably work out fine.
Emotional Engagement for adult sudents
Bio: Herbert Puchta holds a PhD in English – with a focus on ELT pedagogy, has been Professor of English at the Teacher Training University in Graz, and is a past President of IATEFL. He is also one of the most influencial authors in YL.
Personalize the content
Tackle emotional inteligence
Allow teacher’s personality to be shown
Make sure the classroom is a safe place
Make activities relevant
Provide the element of surprise
Use music and movement
Make sure students feel included
Provide and ask for meaningful feedback
Allow some thinking time”
“Emotion is part of the process, and not its conterpart; emotions and intelligence go hand in hand (Lazarus and Lazarus)”
“Neuronal connexions grow as the chid gets older: that’s PHYSICAL learning. The brain physically grows when we learn. This growth is more extensive and powerful when emoton is envolved. Emotion here is also physical, it’s adrenaline, dopamine and serotonine, who influence sinapsis. Therefore emotions are like fertilizers for learning. That’s why emotional engagement is key for the learning process. Learning is also a physical process. the brain is an organ of emotion”
“Focused attention (Egbert): it is easier to focus on something that we consider to be relevant”
ESL Drama Queen: All of the above can be successfuly achieved by proposing games in the classroom that connect the teaching point of the day with emotional skills development. In order to allow both language learning and emotional engagement to coexist, I’d reccomend choosing a drama game that targets actors’ emotional development and adapt it in order to include your teaching point during the playing process. This way, the production of that specific piece of language will coexist with the emotional development of the group.
“Emotional engagement is a step further from integration”
ESL Drama Queen: Integration as I see it is external to the participants: I can be part of a group because I feel safe and comfortable with the people in it, but that does not mean I am actively emotionaly engaged to everyone in it or the topics we talk about. Engagement to my mind can only be achieved when I am aware of my own self and I personally make the choice to do, say and feel things in the group.
Authors: Doff, Lazarus and Lazarus, Thaine, Purpura, Zull
Well, this was part 2 of the IATEFL 2015 events to be reported here on ESL Drama Queen.
Stay tuned for more to come the next few days.
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And, as usual, have fun with the games!!!!