Using Drama in the English Language Classroom


Photo by Janusz Gawron. Used by permission.

Tonight’s #ELLchat on Twitter was on using drama or drama-based activities. I have to admit that this is an area that I don’t have much experience in as a teacher. I decided I would do a bit of research to give me some motivation to participate in the chat. I read over some articles that covered a wide range of topics and I decided to post them here with a small summary for each article.

The Educational Potential of Drama for ESL

  • Dodson (2002) explains how she created an integrated skills class at a university based on drama that culminated in a half-hour production put on by her students. An excellent article for gaining a variety of ideas on implementing drama ideas in the classroom.

Coping with Obstacles in Drama-Based ESL Teaching: A Nonverbal Approach

  • Culham (2002) shares his experience in using drama as a tool to develop non-verbal as well as L2 language skills in workshops and in the classroom.

Inner City Life Through Drama: Imagining the Language Classroom

  • Heath (1993) shares an example of an inner-city youth organization that used drama to retain their L1 and develop their L2 skills.

Why drama works: A psycholinguistic perspective

  • Stern (n.d.) shows how drama can be an effective tool in a variety of ways including the L2 and L1 classrooms and in speech therapy. She also provides evidence on how drama has a positive effective psychological affect on learners.

Creating Drama with Poetry: Teaching English as a Second Language Through Dramatization and Improvisation

  • Gasparro (1994) provides an overview of using poetry and poetic drama in the English language classroom. She gives a summary of the teacher’s role in implementing poetry, example poems, and suggestions for the teacher.

Overcoming the Fear of Using Drama in English Language Teaching

  • Royka (2002) reviews the four main fears teachers have in using drama in the English language classroom. She gives suggestions on how to overcome these fears and how to use drama with ELLs.

Using choral reading to promote language learning for ESL Students

  • McCauley and McCauley (1992) advocate for the use of choral reading with young ELLs in the classroom. They provide supporting arguments for the usage of choral reading and examples on how this can be accomplished.

Does using drama in EFL classes meet the needs of the learners?

  • Bulut (2011) provides a summary of the value of drama in language learning as well as an overview of the Multiple Intelligences. He provides some examples of how drama can be used in the L2 classroom to help students use different approaches to learning.

Drama in Chalk and Talk Classrooms

  • Rass (2010) gives an example of how drama not only transformed the language learning skills of Arab students in Israel, but it also changed teachers who preferred a more traditional approach to learning.

EFL Learner Autonomy as it Emerges in Drama Projects

  • Fine and Collins (n.d.) show how drama can be used to help student take more control of their language learning. They provide an example of how a class of secondary students in Japan were provided the framework of the dramatic project and how each of them were able to take control of their own learning.

Role Play for ESL/EFL Children in the English Classroom

  • Huang (2008) discusses the use of role play with children in the English language classroom and her six-step procedure in implementing a role play activity.

All the World’s a Stage: Reaching English Language Learners through Drama

  • Fortney (2010) in her summative paper for her MA shares her analysis of literature pertaining to the use of drama in the English language classroom.

Acting For Transformation: An Esl Teacher And Her Adult Immigrant Students Dramatize The Students’ Life Stories

  • Horstein (2010) shares in her paper for her MA the year-long drama project she implemented working with adult immigrants in an ESL program.

I hope that you are able to find something here that can help you in integrating drama into your lesson plan. Let me know if you have anything else to add to this list. Thanks.


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