Lesson Plan: Listening + Method Acting: faith

Method acting

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

Stanislavski, K.

 

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

Type: Listening

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)


 

Procedure:

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


 

Ah, these creative people…

sweetlifestyle_10things

 

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.

IATEFL 2015 – Summarized inspirations

Dear ESL Drama Gamers, first of all I am so sorry for my absence these past two weeks. I nearly drowned in information from IATEFL, but I survived! I hope you like the post today!

Lots of artsy love,

ESL Drama Queen


IMG_0651.PNG

 

Immersed in the spring British mists, a tsunami of all things TESOL made its way into Manchester, where thousands of brave participants, determined to make it to shore a little more knowledgeable,  did their best to keep swimming through the vast waters they saw upon arrival: hundreds of talks, workshops and plenaries to choose from.

As yours truly had a clear objective, all events to do with arts, games and creativity were soon highlighted on the programme and there I went, swimming up the main stream.

Some talks and workshops on the use of art and theatre in the classroom were inspiring and innovative, others were targeted to newcomers in the art of using art and were therefore more basic. Both useful though, since there is an audience for each one of them.

Today I start a 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.


Frozen in thought? How we think and and what we do in ELT

Donald Freeman

 

Bio: Donald Freeman is a professor at the School of Education, University of Michigan. For 25 years, he was on the graduate faculty at the School for International Training, where he chaired the Department of Language Teacher Education, and founded and directed the Center for Teacher Education, Training and Research. He is author of several books on language teacher education. He is senior consulting editor on ELTeach and editor of the professional development series, TeacherSource. Freeman has been president of TESOL, and a member the International Advisory Council for Cambridge English.

 

 

“Rethink proficiency as plural proficiencies”

ESLDramaQueen: Once the teacher acknowledges proficiency as plural, the lesson plan can be prepared bearing in mind multiple goals for multiple proficiencies, one of them being body language. Here, the teacher can choose to attach a drama game to his/her plan to include a kinaesthetic element to the lesson.

“Strange things happen to language when it goes to school”

ESLDramaQueen: The gap between real-life language, whether written or spoken, and the language present in most classrooms is quite noticeable. Especially nowadays that students have access to all kinds of language via internet (social media, search engines, etc.). Drama games and Theatre in general can be a way to utilize the language students really feel genuine and relevant in the classroom while still covering the syllabus.

“Teachers should connect curriculum to what’s going on in the classroom”

ESLDramaQueen: It is crucial that teachers be cautious neither to follow the materials blindly without taking into consideration the real needs of the group nor to propose super fun activities that have absolutely nothing to do with the teaching point planned for that class. A balance between curriculum and relevance should be pursued and all games should have a clear purpose.

“Teaching is central, but we don’t have to think about it in the same way”

ESLDramaQueen: The role of the teacher as a fundamental part in the learning process may be the same in most contexts, however the methods and approaches this teacher chooses to use in order to facilitate learning is completely up to him/her. It depends on the teacher’s experience, knowledge, culture, personality and interests.


The artsy side of teaching

Radmila Popovic

Bio: Radmila Popovic is currently a Senior Education Specialist (TESOL) at World Learning in Washington DC. She was an assistant professor in ETL Methodology at the University of Belgrade and also is a past president of ELTA Serbia. She has worked for many years with teacher training and is now researching the intersections between art and science in ELT.

 

“It’s hard to define if teaching is more of an art or a science. Art derives from play, while science is methodology. There is no ONE way of doing anything.”

ESLDramaQueen: The discussion about the nature of teaching, if it should be more play-oriented or method-oriented, is a vast and unfinished one. My personal view on the matter is that when it comes to dichotomies, between the extremities there are tons of shades of grey to be explored, each one with a specific outcome and possibly beneficial to a certain audience.

“Leonardo Da Vinci = science plus art / Tesla = science with creativity”

ESLDramaQueen: It could be a good idea for both teacher training and ELT in general to introduce the work and mind frame of DaVinci and Tesla, to warm teachers and students to the idea of using art and science in the classroom (play and method). Maybe through the discussion and application of some of the concepts and praxis present in the body of work of these two artist-scientists, the idea of using art in the classroom can be taken more seriously, instead of being viewed as just extra fun activities for when teachers have time on their hands.

“Art is the difference between technically competent and excellent teachers”

ESLDramaQueen: Teachers that dare break away from the shackles of method from time to time in order to meet the expectations or cater for the needs of the students are the ones on the way to excellency, in my point of view. Improvisation, instinct, translation skills between what students express and what they really mean, ability to summarise, rephrase and symbolise language in order to convey a clearer message to students and also foster these abilities in students: all these can be developed and enhanced by being exposed to art.

“Teacher trainers should nurture not only technical development, but excellence as well”

ESLDramaQueen: Art can be a tool in teacher training to help trainees develop their skills. Instead of just flooding them with information about methodology and asking them to prepare and observe lessons, trainings could also include personal and emotional development through drama games or art projects in general.

“How can art be transplanted into teacher training?

Ask your trainees: If you were an artist/scientist, what kind would you be? Why? Which of these characteristics can be applied to the kind of teacher you want to be?

Tap associative, intuitive and unconscious sources

Give prompts: the more specific the better to generate content

Propose to your trainees: Imagine the opposite of your favourite teaching activity. Describe it and justify why it is bad teaching practice.

Propose the ‘Bad-teaching machine project’:Imagine a machine that signals every time bad teaching is practiced. Which are the signals the machine would read in the classroom in order to identify bad teaching? What kind of signal and to whom would the machine emit?

Play the ‘weather+definitions=metaphor’game: Trainer / Teacher provides some specific vocabulary to be worked on. Trainees / Students have to use weather terms to create a metaphor for the definition of that piece of vocabulary. (E.g. Term: On the spot correction; Metaphor: On the spot correction has to be monitored in order not to become a hailstorm of mistakes crashing on students’ heads.)”

Suggestions:

Book: Teaching artist handbook (2013, Jaffe, Cox and Barniskis)

Article: Creativity in the Classroom (2005, Cameron)

 


 

Well, these were the two first IATEFL 2015 events to be reported here on ESL Drama Queen.

Stay tuned for more to come the next few days.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Periscope!

And, as usual, have fun with the games!!!!

Tales from the classroom – The complainers

complain

 

There is nothing more terrifying than a cold audience.

That horrifying feeling of talking to students and getting….. NOTHING!

Or worse: getting nothing but complaints!

I can still remember – with shivers on my spine – a certain group I once had that no matter what I tried, they remained unsatisfied.

They would constantly complain about everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.

The class is too slow. Now it’s too fast. Your accent is too American. There are too many windows in this classroom… The list is endless.

I thought that they would never go for playing games in the classroom since they liked NOTHING about the course: and I was right.

But, as I am a terribly stubborn human being, I decided to insist on it anyway.

I remember the first time I proposed a game to them. They looked at me with a ‘what the hell’ face and, as I insisted, they did it in a very cranky way.

And so it went for the next month: me insisting on the games, they doing it out of obligation and ‘good will’.

I only kept doing it because, honestly, they would complain about anything anyway, so I decided to make the classes a little more lively, even if just for a few moments.

And you know what happened? They complained!

But this time, in English!

And that right there was my reward.

They might not have noticed at the time, but the games were actually helping them improve their fluency – and I could notice!

I just kept saying to myself, ‘They complaining in English now! In ENGLISH!!!!’

So one day I did something sneaky: I recorded the whole class.

Afterwards, I sent them the video via email and asked them to pay attention to how much L1 and how much English they were speaking. And that changed everything.

They still complained about the classroom, my accent, the textbook, the coordination, the duration of the class…………….. But they were happy they were speaking English.

That was one of the most difficult groups I’ve ever had, but of one thing I’m sure: there is nothing a very stubborn teacher who insists on getting their students to learn can’t do!

Lesson Plan – Wordganize – Grammar analysis

wordganize

How can we get students to notice and analyze new grammar structures?

Writing model sentences on the board, using colour coding, asking them to read an example from the textbook… We’ve all done that.

 

How about asking students to BE the words and try to organize themselves into a sentence?

That’s Wordganize, a fun and effective way to promote active analysis of a grammar structure while fostering group integration, the development of managing skills, real life argumentation and the increase of STT (student talking time) during new language exposition.

It can be used to analyze all sorts of grammar points, from A1 to C2. It is very versatile and gets students moving a little, which is a plus for days in which we have to provide too much input.

As usual, I hope you and your students can benefit from this different way to discover new structures.

Enjoy it and have fun with the games!


Drama Game: Wordganize – Grammar analysis

 

Type: Grammar analysis

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Notice and analyze new structures

Interaction Pattern: group work

Material: Words written on paper slips

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

Since I am not familiar with the kind of method every reader of this post follows in class, this post was designed to follow the most common formats of language input that can be found in world renowned textbooks, in which language analysis comes after a brief discussion on the topic and sometimes a passive input of the language to be analyzed in the form of a written or spoken text.

After providing students with some passive input of the topic in the form of a reading or listening activity, tell students they will try to remember a few sentences from the text.

The idea here is to prepare in advance sentences students have just been exposed to during the reading/listening activity, cut the sentence into words or chunks and give each student a piece.

Ask them to close their books and stand up in a line.

Hand out words to each student.  They have to either hold the word, clip it to their clothes or stick it to their foreheads – depends on how outgoing your students are.

While they get their words, write on the board some model sentences to help them get through the next phase of the game – since this is not the aim of the activity and they shouldn’t focus on THIS language, but the one on the sentence they have to build.

lousa9

Tell students they ARE these words now.

They have to organize themselves into a sentence and you CANNOT help.

They can use the language on the board to help organize themselves.

When they think the sentence is correct, they can call you to check it.

Tip:

If you teach in a small classroom or you have a group that is not really into getting up and moving around, you can ask them to switch places, sitting in the ‘right order’. Another variation is for them to move the pieces of paper around, and hold them up for everyone to see.

Also, if you have few students in class, you can give them either two words per student, or cut the sentence in chucks rather than individual words.

Students start organizing themselves as a group.

At this point, usually students with leadership-inclined personalities will probably take the role of managers.

Observe and interfere as little as possible.

At the end, ask CCQs (Concept Check Questions) to the whole group to raise awareness of the structure you want them to focus on.

(If you are not familiar with CCQs, click here for more information)

Tip:

Make sure you prepare your CCQs in advance. It is quite challenging to attempt to formulate effective ones on the spot, at least I think so.

You can repeat this game two or three times, asking students to Wordganize themselves into different sentences demonstrating the same grammar topic to provide more practice and cater for students that might not get the idea the first time around.

At the end of this game followed by well-designed CCQs, students should be prepared for controlled and freer practice.


Wordganize is a way to learn a structure through concrete and active means and enables students to get a hold of their own acquisition. All followed by the guidance of the teacher in the form of pre-designed CCQs.

It’s quite effective and fun.

Lesson Plan – Paper Balls – 4 variations

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

This is the full lesson plan of the game Paper Balls which was part of the great content exposed by Mary Patricia Schnueriger during the workshop Learner-tainment in Geneva. If you want more information about the workshop, click here.

Paper balls is a very lively game that can be used and adapted to cater to a plethora of teaching goals. On this post I will depict some of the uses I came up with after analyzing the original idea from the workshop.

I developed lesson plans with 4 different goals in mind: ice breaker, vocabulary review, grammar practice and fluency practice.

However, if you have found other interesting uses for this game feel free to comment below!


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Vocabulary Review/Practice

 

Type: Vocabulary Review/Practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Revisit and personalize previously taught vocabulary to facilitate retention

Interaction Pattern: individual + whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 7-10 min


Procedure:

Each student gets a piece of paper large enough to be molded into a ball (1/5 of an A4 should suffice)

Students write words or expressions they learned the previous class or previously during that very class on a piece of paper

Tip

You can direct students here to write what you want them to practice. Let’s say you have an A1 class and you’d like them to practice vocabulary regarding worklife, you can write on the board

lousa1

On the other hand, if you have a B2 group, you could write on the board ‘verbs followed by infinitive, gerund or both.

lousa2

After writing their chosen piece of vocabulary, students make a paper ball with it.

Tell students they are to throw the balls around, so it’s gonna get kinda messy.

Tip

Depending on your group profile, you can either ask your students to stand up in a circle and throw the balls at someone across from them (more proactive, outgoing group profiles), or remain seated and throw the balls at anyone they’d like (more introverted, self-conscious group profiles), or even have a ball fight for 10 seconds and when time is over, students read the paper they ended up with (kids, teenagers and very open-minded adults).

Whoever has the paper ball reads it and executes a task. This task can be previously designed by the teacher to enhance language production of the topic to be reviewed/practiced.

For example, the A1 group practicing work-related words can be asked to come up with a TRUE sentence using the word they have (the truth in the sentence enables students to make the idea more memorable). As for the B2 group, they could perhaps come up with a question on the spot using the verb they have as a way to generate discussion and provide students with fast response practice (an ability B level students sometimes lack).

When the teacher sets previous specific goals for this game, it is a great tool to revise and practice vocabulary. However, if the students have no guidelines when they are either writing the words and phrases or elaborating sentences for them later, the chance you get words that are totally unrelated to your teaching point or useless sentences spoken just for the sake of completing the asked task is pretty big. So use it cautiously and runthrough your instructions carefully before applying the game.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Ice breaker

 

Type: Ice Breaker

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Promote group integration and notice students’ previous knowledge

Interaction Pattern: whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

This is a good alternative for an activity on the very first day of class, so that the group can get to know each other in a lively way and you can also observe their production while the game is going on so that you can figure out what you will be dealing with during the course.

Tip

In order for both of these goals to be achieved, this is a no-correction version of the game. I wouldn’t correct a student on the very first moment of the very first class. It could feel rather intimidating, to my mind, and the idea here is to lower everyone’s anxiety and promote bonding amongst everyone in class.

Tell students you will play a game to get to know each other. In this game, everyone will receive a paper ball that they CANNOT open.

Hand out one paper ball with previously written questions to each student.

Tip

Write the questions beforehand to save time, incite curiosity and promote a more realistic response from students since they don’t know what the questions will be about.

Also, grade the questions in relation to what you want to observe in terms of production from your students. It could be just personal questions, but it could also be discussion starters to higher levels.

Ask students to stand in a circle and make sure everyone can see each other.

Tell students they will throw the balls at each other once. They can throw at whomever they want (usually they throw to someone directly opposite to them, but if anyone ends up now being thrown at, there’s always going to be a ball left from them. Ask them to go and get it.)

They will then have 30 seconds to talk to someone about the question they got.

After the 30 seconds are over, they throw the balls again and choose a different person to discuss the new question with.

Even is they get a question two or three times, the person they are talking to is never the same, so there is always room for authentic discussion.

Walk around and listen to what they are saying. This is the moment you assess their previous knowledge privately.

Repeat 3 or 4 times and then bring the group back to their original places.

Tip

It could be nice to have e brief feedback moment after the game, asking how the students felt, what is hard or easy during this kind of exercise. For higher levels, elicit from stidents the connection between this game and real life. Ask them situations in which they are ‘bombarded’ with questions and have to answer quickly and elicit strategies to perform better under pressure.

By the end of this activity the group should be a lot more integrated and aware of the importance of not only studying the book , but also drawing parallels to real life use of the language they are learning.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Fluency practice

 

Type: Fluency practice

Age: all

Language level: from A2 on

Aim: Promote freer practice

Interaction Pattern: individual + whole group (small groups) / group work (large groups)

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 7-10 min


Procedure:

This is a variation of the Ice breaker in order to be used at the end of classes to promote freer practice of the language learned that day.

Tip

Since this the goal here is practicing, make sure you allocate some time after the game to promote public correction on things you heard during the game. Don’t forget to make notes as the students play the game.

Tell students you will play a game to practice what you have learned today. In this game, one by one, students will stand up and all the other students will throw them paper balls – either one by one or all at once, depending on your group profile.

Each student gets a piece of paper large enough to be molded into a ball (1/5 of an A4 should suffice)

Students write questions about what they learned previously during that very class on it

Tip: Walk around and try to correct the questions before students throw the balls.

Ask students to throw the questions at the student who is stading.

This targeted student has 1 minute to answer as many questions as possible. Then he/she sits down and it’s someone else’s turn.

Tip

If you have large groups, instead of conducting the activity with the whole class, allocate students into smaller groups and have them play the game.

 


Drama Game: Paper Balls – Grammar Practice – Sentence structure

 

Type: Grammar practice

Age: all

Language level: all

Aim: Facilitate sentence structure analysis through concrete practice

Interaction Pattern: group work + whole group

Material: Paper to make notes

Timing: 5-7 min


Procedure:

This is a good activity to raise awareness to sentence structure and word order. Students should be able to ‘see’ the structure and actively think about it, instead of just passively receiving input from either the teacher or the textbook.

Also, the collaborative analysis of language has proven to foster the information to be more memorable, enhancing learning.

Tip

Since students will have to discuss a few things during the game, it would be nice for A1 students to be provided with model sentences to express their opinion. Otherwise, the activity will be either too challenging for them, or the main focus will shift from focusing on structure to struggling with expressing opinion. You could write on the board:

lousa3

Tell students you will play a game to practice the grammar they just learned. In this game, everyone will receive a paper ball that they CANNOT open.

Hand out one paper ball with previously written words to each student. The idea is that the paper balls contain words that can be arranged in sentences – or you can also use it for adjective order.

Tip

Write the words beforehand to save time, incite curiosity and promote a more realistic response from students since they don’t know which sentences they will have to form. Don’t make it too hard, though. Keep them short and simple. Remember, the objective is not for the game to be a challenge, but for student to experience the concrete formation of sentences in English.

Also, grade the questions in relation to what you want to observe in terms of production from your students. It could be question formation for A2 students or inversions to C2 ones.

Ask students to have a paper ball fight for 5 seconds (to mix the words up)

Divide students in small groups and assign them 2 or 3 minutes to try to build a sentence from the paper balls that must be all around by now.

Walk around and listen to what they are saying. This is the moment you help them, make sure they don’t use (much) L1 resorting to the models on the board and foster further analysis of the language.

Tip

It could be nice to have e brief feedback moment after the game, asking how the students felt, what is hard or easy during this kind of exercise.

By the end of this activity the group should be more aware of that class’ teaching point and ready for controlled and freer practice.


Well, I hope you enjoyed the ideas.

And as usual, have fun with the games!

Book review – Dramapädagogik im Sprachunterricht (Drama Pedagogy in the language classroom)

„Dramapädagogik ist ein Ansatz, der die Mittel des Theaters zu pädagogischen Zwecken einsetzt. Im Vordergrund steht dabei nicht primär das Ergebnis, nämlich die Produktion eines Theaterstücks, sondern der Lernprozess in allen seinen Dimensionen: physisch, ästhetisch (sinnlich), emotional und kognitiv. «Drama» kommt aus dem Griechischen und heisst «Handlung». Dramapädagogik ist dementsprechend eine Pädagogik, die handlungsbezogenes ganzheitliches Lernen herbeiführt.“

Elektra Tselikas-Portmann

“Drama Pedagogy is an approach that utilizes Theatre for educational purposes. “Drama” comes from the Greek “action”. Result – or presentation – is not the primary goal, but the learning process in all its dimensions: physical, aesthetic (sensual), emotional and cognitive. Drama Pedagogy is therefore a pedagogy that allows acquisition to be practical and empirical”

(our translation)

 

 

 

 

Dramapädagoggik im SprachunterrichtA promisse of insights. That is the feeling one gets when embarking on the journey that is Dramapädagogik im Sprachunterricht. I have just begun to read it, however I could not wait to share it here with you guys.

The book is in German and, as far as I know, there are no English versions. So I have humbly set myself the task of reading it and summarizing the most interesting parts the author brilliantly exposes.

Elektra Tselikas-Portmann has extensive work as a drama therapist, psychotherapist, drama teacher and supervisor. In Dramapädagogik im Sprachunterricht, she depicts the idea of using Drama Pedagogy in the language classroom by giving the reader reasons why this approach is beneficial, manners to start practicing it, ways to achieve diverse goals with it in the classroom, a few practical exercises and theoretical basis for her thesis.

As mentioned before, I have just started reading it and here I will try to disclosure my impressions of the very first part of the book – which honestly seems very promising.

The author begins with a brief commentary of what Drama Pedagogy – Theaterpädagogik – is: an approach that utilizes theatre as a means to achieve pedagogical goals. This practice does not base itself in presenting a theatrical play, but enabling the dramatic process which students go through via drama games and, therefore, fostering a diverse kind of learning. In this sense, Drama Pedagogy allows participants to acquire knowledge in a more natural way via dramatic practice.

Tselikas also affirms that Drama Pedagogy is a means to include new ideas and creativity in the communication-oriented lesson plan: it provides the classroom activities with lifelike situations and places that the students are studying and allows them to practice and experience those scenarios in a safe and controlled environment before using the language in the ‘real world’.

After this introduction, the reader is presented with a table of contents which includes information about the inborn human susceptibility towards playing and acting – abilities explored by the Drama Pedagogy.

Dramapädagoggik im Sprachunterricht quote

She explains, though, that these processes – although inherent in every human being – are blocked as time passes by rationality and moral values learned in social life. One of the goals of Drama Pedagogy is also to restore these abilities and bring them to the surface once again and through them, enable a free and creative environment in the classroom.

Neither the teacher nor the students should be professional actors in order to benefit from Drama Pedagogy, according to the author: the objective is merely achieving educational goals, and not contributing to training new actors. And to achieve these educational goals, one must build a challenging representation of real life through drama in order to promote the development of the students’ language skills through metaphors, symbols, roles and emotion.

 

Honestly, isn’t that mouth-watering?

I will keep posting summaries of this book to you guys, so stay tuned!

As usual, have fun and enjoy the games!

Tales from the classroom – Do teachers matter?

teaching-wordleI was just 16 when I was first asked to assist a teacher with his duties. A bit too early, some might say, to carry such a prestigious role. Though somehow I felt I was ready.

It was my Drama teacher at the language school I studied at: also quite young, energetic and somehow adventurous. He was the one that, after two years of helping me with my English, suggested I helped him manage the theatre groups he was responsible for.

At first I thought he was kidding, but then I realized maybe I did have an interest bigger than just learning a language twice a week and rehearsing a theatrical play once a week – maybe I genuinely felt curious and excited about the idea of helping others. And I guess he saw that in me and gave me a chance.

Rehearsals began in March and we were looking after around 30 students ageing from 9 to 15 every week for three hours. My Fridays were never as fun as those. I looked forward to Fridays like those kids did to Christmas!

I learned so much from those two years I spent assisting my former teacher: work ethics, dealing with students, dealing with parents, planning classes, time management, classroom management and – what would become my professional life’s obsession – drama games.

I first came into contact with drama games as they were traditionally meant to be used: as a means for the actors to prepare themselves for rehearsal and presentation. And for a long time I lacked to see the connection between those activities that helped us rehearsal and the language class I had twice a week.

It took one book and a very special person to open my mind to that possibility. The book was Theater Games for Classroom – A Teacher’s Handbook and the very special person is a dear friend that unfortunately is no longer with us. He also had started as a student and then decided to become a teacher – a path I myself would choose later on – and he had figured out the connection between drama games and the classroom. Not only figured out, he perfected it bearing in mind the syllabus, demands and requirements of the school he taught at.

He got so good at it and he was such an inspiration to so many around him, that in a few years he became a teacher trainer. And guess who had figured out she wanted to be a teacher and was his pupil by then? Yes, yours truly. And that was when I got a crash course in drama games in the classroom for the first time.

He gave me the book; he ministered the training course; he gave me a path and a passion. And every time I think about him not being here anymore it saddens me that the world can no longer benefit from his great ideas. Though his legacy endures.

Lots of us lucky enough to have been taken under his wing at the time still work with drama games in the classroom and believe in its effectiveness as a tool to facilitate language learning.

If it hadn’t been for these two very important teachers/colleagues/friends that life was kind enough to have put in my path, who knows if I would be where I am today.

Teachers matter. What we say and do have meaning and can affect our students deeply. So if we affect them, let us affect them affectionately. And as I learned from these two very affectionate teachers: drama games can help us do that.

So once again, see you guys next time and have fun with the games.

Michelle Schirpa

(ESL Drama Queen)