Grade: all
Subject: Language

#4006. Creative Drama in the Second Language Class

Language, level: all
Posted Sun Aug 12 17:09:00 PDT 2007 by William Peters (
Suwon Foreign Language High School, Korea
Materials Required: none
Activity Time: 50
Concepts Taught: Teaching English through Drama


Teaching language through drama gives a context for listening and meaningful language production, forcing the learners to use their language resources and, thus, enhancing their linguistic abilities. It provides situations for reading and writing. It is very useful in teaching literary texts as it helps in analyzing plot, character and style. It also involves learners more positively and actively in the text. As Dougill (1987) states, "the drama approach enables learners to use what they are learning with pragmatic intent, something that is most difficult to learn through explanation."

Drama Builds Self Confidence
This can be of benefit for both the student who "acts out" as well as for the student who is shy and quiet.
The student who is a trouble maker finds a positive outlet for his need to be loud and an attention-seeker.
The shy student can "try-on" a personality that she doesnt have to "own."

Sample Lesson Plan

A. Warm-up Activity
Students move about the room. At some point the teacher asks them to greet each other by shaking hands. Greet one person and move on, great another and so on. This continues for a while. For example, great each other like you are long lost friends. The greetings can be embellished with emotions like: greet everyone angrily, happily, sadly, etc. Have fun with it, and keep the greetings short and superficial.

Walk around the room shake hands with each other, smile and say:
Im (blank).
Nice to meet you.

Make eye contact with the other person and hold it for a few seconds, and smile.

Change the occasion for the greeting
Long lost friends

B. Improvisation
Students form groups of two.
The students should begin with the given script and improvise from there.

Example Situation
A teacher and student are talking. The student is trying to convince the teacher to postpone the test until the following week.

Student: Oh, please cant we have the test next week!
Teacher: I dont think so. I really think we should have it this week.
Now improvise
It is easy to make these situations up and the students enjoy them very much.

C. Drama Based Speaking
At this point I show a video, The Piano - Aidan Gibbons. Feelings, slang, and idioms can be used in this kind of activity. After viewing I ask the following questions to my students:

1. Describe the situation. Please make sentences around your key words.
a. Who did you see in the video?
b. What happened to them?
2. How do you think the old man felt as he remembered each situation?
3. How did you feel when watching this video? (I gave the students a list of feeling words). Please try to use at least three feeling words. And try to describe the part of the video that made you feel that way. For example, I felt very enraged when his friend was shot in the war. What is the meaning of the video?

D. The Lover, the teacher
The use of contextual clues can be one of the best ways to improve students speaking and reading skills. Unfortunately, students often insist on understanding each word when speaking and reading. Realizing that a text can be understood in a general sense by using contextual clues can go a long way towards helping students cope with increasingly difficult conversations. At the same time the use of contextual clues can also provide a means by which students can rapidly increase their existing vocabulary base.

Have students look at the words.
They remember as much as they can.
Next students speak the words while looking at their partner.
Remember eye contact is very importance!

The Lover
You just dont understand what Ive been trying to tell you?
I just cant take it anymore.
The Teacher
You just dont understand what Ive been trying to tell you?
I just cant take it anymore.

Drama serves an integrating function when used in either school or non-school settings. As ESL students create dramas, they integrate life experiences with dramatic content as they see themselves and their ideas in new relationships to others.

Chris Adams (2006). Presentation on drama at Suwon University, South Korea.
Byram, M & Fleming, M [Eds] (1998). Language Learning in Inter-cultural Perspective: Approaches through Drama and Ethnography. London: CUP
Dougill, John (1987). Drama Activities for Language Learning. London: Macmillan
Fleming, Michael (1994). Starting Drama Teaching. London: David Fulton Maley, A. &Duff A (1982). Drama Teaching in Language Learning. London: CUP