Drama for Language Teaching
by David Farmer
Drama is an effective way of helping students to learn languages including English as a Foreign Language (EFL), as it uses active teaching and learning styles likely to motivate and sustain the attention of a wide cross section of pupils. Activities can include role-play, drama games, improvisation, group discussion and individual or pair work.
The activities which follow can easily be used along with other teaching techniques, or you might like to choose some to put together as a drama session. They are suited to a range of learning levels, so you will need to decide what is appropriate for your group.
To begin with, you could use a couple of warm up activities like Clap Around The Circle which may not even use language, but will introduce the class to the enjoyment, participation and cooperation which is a natural part of drama activities.
Clap Around The Circle
In a circle, each person claps in turn. Try to make it sound like one person is clapping. Now try again with your eyes closed. It’s much harder!
Look in the drama games section for lots more ice-breakers and warm ups.
What Are You Doing?
This activity is not only fun, but is also a way of exploring the present continuous! It works well if it follows a lesson on hobbies, occupations or everyday activities. It begins to introduce some simple language along with actions, which will help to reinforce vocabulary.
In a circle. The first person starts miming an activity. The person to their left says “What are you doing?”. The person miming the activity has to keep acting and at the same time say the name of a different activity – in the present continuous. For example, if they were “eating an apple”, they could say “I am playing the piano”. The second person then starts “playing the piano”.
The first person stops their mime. Now the third person asks the second, “What are you doing?”. The second person keeps “playing the piano” and names a different activity which the third person must mime. There should be no repetition and no similar activities. For example if you are miming “climbing a ladder”, you cannot say “climbing the stairs”.Ten Second Objects is also a good way of reinforcing new vocabulary as well as encouraging physical awareness and group cooperation.
It is very quick to organise (if you have the space) and always interesting, as you can never predict what groups may come up with! Once groups have made a few objects suggested by you, they could make up some of their own for the rest of the class to try and guess.