Drama pedagogies with Key Stage 2 English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners
This paper is a synthesis of my experimental and reflective investigation into the design, use, and impact of drama pedagogies with Key Stage 2 English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners on their oral fluency and expressive language production.
The participants were all pupils at an East-London state primary school, selected for its diversity of native languages spoken, and their requirement for EAL support. The 73 participants were exposed to series of drama-based lessons that were designed to promote collaborative learning, problem solving, and expressive language production, often based upon the curriculum-outlined literacy programme, whereas, the control group received ‘traditional’ English language and literacy teaching. These lessons took place weekly over the course of two academic terms, bookended by pre- and post -testing.
A selection of tests from the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals battery were administered to assess and measure differences in our young learner’s language and communication skills. The tests selected included Word Structure (WS), Formulating Sentences (FS), and Expressive Vocabulary (EV).
The results indicate a significantly beneficial difference in English oral language production (EV and FS) for those participants who undertook drama approaches to learning in comparison to the control group. There were no significant differences in the other assessment results, with both the experimental groups and control group making gradual, expected progress.
Based on these findings, this paper outlines considerations for drama pedagogies in the Key Stage 2 English classroom, the benefits of collaborative peer-to-peer language learning, pupil and teacher response to drama-based learning, and the wider confidence and motivational implications of drama-based learning.
Luke Allder is a CHASE funded PhD Candidate at the University of Kent, UK. His research is focused on drama pedagogies and their use in English as an Additional Language (EAL) learning. Luke’s background is both as a performance artist and as a language teacher, working across Asia and Europe.
The Iconic, Symbolic, and Expressive Modes in Language Learning
In the Mantle of the Expert system of teaching, devised by Dorothy Heathcote, children are invited to think of themselves as members of an “expert team” – for example, people running
a museum, Oxfam workers, etc. This is the fictional “context” in which learning takes place. Heathcote observed: “This context makes us have a need to do things; and it gives us direct purposes for doing these things.” (1)
There are clear advantages in this system for language learning, ensuring that learning is embedded in a concrete situation, and creating opportunities for the teacher to “feed in” vocabulary, and for students to apply and consolidate their skills and vocabulary.
In creating “contexts” for drama work, Heathcote found it useful to think in terms of “iconic,” “symbolic” and “expressive” modes of representation – terms she drew from the work of Jerome Bruner. She wrote: “It was ages before I met and instantly recognised Bruner’s particularisation of iconic (get the picture); symbolic (shape it in familiar ways of writing and talking it through) before you embark on the expressive (do it now).” (2)
These elements work together, to create the drama world. For example, in a Mantle set in a horse stables business, the “iconic” (e.g., large horse-shoe shapes) worked with the “expressive” (e.g., the teacher “leading in” an imaginary horse), and the symbolic (e.g., written signs over stalls for the horses’ names).
This paper looks at how these elements, in combination, can support language development. It focuses on a Mantle project which Heathcote lead in Ankara in 2009, in which there was a particular emphasis on language learning in a dramatic context.
(1) Making Drama Work: In the Classroom”, Tape 5 (University of Newcastle, 1992);
(2) Dorothy Heathcote on Education and Drama, ed. Cecily O’Neill (Routledge, 2014), p.135.
Dr. David Allen is Artistic Director of Midland Actors Theatre. He is the author of numerous books and articles on drama, including Stanislavski for Beginners (Writers and Readers) and Performing Chekhov (Routledge). He is currently leading two Erasmus+ projects on Heathcote’s “Commission Model” and “Rolling Role” systems.
Towards Mainstreaming the Implementation of Drama Methods in the FL Classroom: Situating Drama activities within a Task Framework
Drama in Education as a collaborative and holistic pedagogy focusing both on content and procedural as well as social and experiential dimensions signals strong parallels to the action-oriented, task-based pedagogy required when fostering Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) in young learners – the stipulated goal of foreign language curricula in Germany.
Although approaches within performative foreign language didactics have, over the past 25 years, been increasingly researched, implemented and discussed, thereby boosting the visibility of the branch in both theoretical and practical terms, methods pertaining to these approaches have not yet become embedded in the general repertoire employed in day-to-day language teaching.
The proposed presentation aims to contribute to mainstreaming the implementation of drama methods in the foreign language classroom as a ‘framework within a framework’ favouring the acquisition of ICC by situating these methods within the action-oriented, task-based pedagogical paradigm called for in current times. In order to do this, the concepts of improvisation, Mantel of the Expert and Process Drama will be modelled as tasks from the perspective of foreign language pedagogy, each concept being analysed according to the different characteristics of a ‘task’ and described according to the phases of a task-based lesson, with the potentials for promoting ICC being highlighted in the process.
This clear delineation of both task criteria and drama related content also endeavours to, conversely, contribute to making task-based or task-supported language teaching in itself more accessible and implementable to practitioners, by providing a template to be adapted for individual use.
Raphaelle Beecroft is a teacher educator at Karlsruhe University of Education in Germany. I recently defended her PhD on improvisational theatre in foreign language teaching. Apart from the implementation of drama concepts in the language classroom, her research interests include fostering Intercultural Communicative Competence through translation as well as virtual exchange.
The Form and Meaning: When English Teachers Learn to Teach Through Drama
This talk draws on the early-stage findings from an action research project in a Chinese primary school in 2020, which aims to study the progress of in-service English teachers learning to teach through participatory drama.
The discussion is centred on the participants’ receptions, their periodical achievements and the inherent difficulties presented by the pedagogy. It reveals that despite the initial frustrations in the first few weeks, and the influence of socially desirability bias, the majority of the participants have reported a positive attitude and perceived themselves capable in effectively combining the learning of both English and drama.
The positivity occurs in situations when teachers, as actors, were moved while interacting with students in fictional roles; when they, as teachers, elicited unexpected yet meaningful story interpretations from the learners; and when they, as directors and playwrights, created effective drama frameworks which involved everyone in class and fostered children’s language output.
Meanwhile, three major challenges were identified throughout the process: text selection and interpretation, translation into drama activities and classroom implementation. Through close examination of the challenges, this talk unravels the fundamental causes to be the teachers’ biased knowledge on the form and meaning of English as a language, and their insufficient knowledge of drama, more specifically, their emphasis on the performative feature of drama (form) while neglecting its inherent narrative and logic (meaning). It argues that
fundamentally, it is an altered understanding teachers should possess, as demanded by participatory drama pedagogy, towards English as a language, towards drama as both a subject and a pedagogy, and towards a dialogic horizontal teacher-student relationship that underlies these difficulties manifested.
Li Ding is a PhD student at the Seminar für English Philologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen MA, Education and English Language Teaching, The University of Warwick. Publication: * A Reflective Case Study on Effective English Speaking through Process Drama, The Journal of Drama and Theatre Education in Asia, Vol 7, No 1 (2017).
Exploring Critical Intercultural Language Pedagogy Through Online Process Drama
This fifteen-minute paper presentation will discuss findings from my Masters in Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth and Communities Thesis Project: Exploring Critical Intercultural Language Pedagogy Through Online Process Drama. Through engaging aspects of a Youth Participatory Action Research methodology (YPAR), my project focuses on how critical intercultural language pedagogy impacts how and what methods of performative language teaching drama and language practitioners employ in the English as an Additional Language Class, as well as how these methods translate to online learning. I describe how the methods used to explore performative language teaching with language-minoritized students must work to disrupt hegemonic power structures and to further justice-based rather than deficit-based language teaching practices. This discussion informed my residency work at schools in Phoenix, Arizona with two groups of emergent bilingual students in middle school years six through eight. I used Process Drama as my performative approach to explore a topic decided on by the participants surrounding “The future of…?” Through video-recording, post-session focus groups, an end-of project questionnaire, and a teacher-research journal, I employed inductive data analysis measures to document the participants’ intercultural learning as well as how the project aligned with key aspects of critical language pedagogy. In my paper, I answer the following question: how can we foster spaces, in-person or virtual, that center intercultural exploration and participants’ voice in the process? I argue that drama practitioners and language teachers need to consider how performative approaches offer: a) time to get to know students’ unique assets and language capacities, b) meaningful opportunities for students to engage in their first-language, c) a sense of play and enjoyment in sharing, and d) time for reflection on similarities and differences amongst perspectives.
Jenna Nilson is currently finishing her Master in Fine Arts in the Theatre for Youth and Communities program at Arizona State University. Her focus lies in developing performative and culturally sustaining pedagogies for teaching second languages. She has previously presented her research on outcomes of using drama in language classrooms and intercultural learning in language education at the 2019 and 2020 Drama in Education Days Conferences.
Distance Drama activities: Reading behind the “screens”: a case study in a migrant classroom
Georgia Theodoropoulou, Magda Vitsou
Keywords: distance learning, drama activities, multimodality, Greek as L2, Documentary Theater, Critical Pedagogy
In this paper, we will present the results of a research that took place in spring 2021 in the digital environment of Messenger. The study aims to facilitate linguistic and communicative competence, critical awareness, emotional empowerment, and refugees’ social transformation through online drama activities. Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible to be physically present in the classroom. For this reason, the online platform Messenger was chosen to implement synchronous drama activities to the multiply diverse group of 4 learners of Greek as a second/foreign language. The cyberspace selection was made due to students’ lack of any other technological advances than their smartphones. The research’s theoretical basis is Critical Pedagogy, manifested through drama activities, which draw from Documentary Theater techniques and the Theater of the Oppressed. Both drama approaches set participants in the center of the learning process, seeking to develop their linguistic and communicative competence, their critical awareness, and engage them in negotiating their identities and perceived realities, which are set upon them by the dominant structures and discourse. The research findings of this study have emerged through the implementation of a qualitative method for data collection, such as observations and field notes, participants’ artefacts, the diaries of a critical friend, and a focus group discussion one month after the completion of the intervention. Our findings suggest that participants were empowered emotionally, psychologically, and socially by exchanging human experiences written both in their souls and in historical multimodal documents. This kind of documents and participants’ multimodal expression resulted in the holistic examination of their interpretations on the issue of migration. It was observed that their attitudes were changed and they had a more critical stance regarding the presentation of migrants and refugees in the dominant discourse. Overall, they were more empowered linguistically, emotionally and socially, as migration was normalized and naturalized through examining it in several historical times through multimodal documents.
Georgia Theodoropoulou is a postgraduate student of “Language Education for Refugees and Migrants” in the Hellenic Open University. She is a graduate of the Department of Early Childhood Education of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her research interests focus on Critical Pedagogy and drama techniques, as liberating multimodal means to holistically understand vulnerable groups and to make a change both in their realities and in the broader social context.
Magda Vitsou holds a Ph.D. in using Drama techniques in multicultural classrooms and a master’s degree in education. She has majored in “Puppetry in education and art therapy”, in London School of Puppetry. Her scientific interests and publications focus on issues of Dramain Education, puppetry, bilingualism and social life of minority groups. She is a Laboratory Teaching Staff-Department of Early Childhood Education-University of Thessaly.
Why Does Drama Hav e an Impact on Student Personality Development? A Qualitative Study of Students’ Own Assumptions
Andreas Wirag, Carola Surkamp
Although the impact is typically very small, there is growing empirical evidence that drama activities used in L2 classrooms are in fact able to foster the development of various personality traits in students, such as their self-confidence, empathy, or social abilities (e.g., Winner et al. 2013, Wirag 2019, Grosz et al. 2021). These trait changes, which are desirable didactic outcomes in themselves, can also be considered beneficial for L2 learning, since they may support L2 production (via more self-confidence) or intercultural learning (via more empathy).
While these earlier studies attest to the positive impact of drama activities as such, there is still little empirical knowledge about why these developmental effects may occur. In other words, why is drama able to foster the development of, for instance, student empathy? Why is it helpful to develop, for example, their social abilities? To examine this why-question, we conducted several group interviews with students who attended EFL drama clubs (cf. Wirag 2021). In the interviews, we asked learners in which way(s) they thought drama could have helped them to improve their creativity, perseverance, empathy, creativity, and foreign-language anxiety. The interview transcripts were analysed using Qualitative Content Analysis (Mayring 2015), yielding a set of shared student assumptions about potential causes for their personality development through drama. The talk will present some theoretical background, the (why-)research question, collection and analysis of interview data, and our study findings. The results ought to be helpful in improving our understanding of the complex interplay of drama-based teaching and personality development in L2 classrooms.
Grosz, Michael; Lemp, Julia; Rammstedt, Beatrice & Lechner, Clemens (2021): Personality Change through Arts Education. A Review and Call for Further Research. In: Perspectives on Psychological Science. doi:10.31234/osf.io/rj843
Mayring, Philipp (2015): Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. 12. Auflage. Weinheim: Beltz.
Winner, Ellen; Goldstein, Thalia & Vincent-Lancrin, Stéphan (2013): Educational Research and Innovation. Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education. Paris: OECD Publishing.
Wirag, Andreas (2019): Experimentelle Studien zu Theaterarbeit und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung: Die aktuelle Befundlage. In: Scenario 2019/2, 92-108. doi:10.33178/scenario.13.2.7Wirag, Andreas (2021): Schüler/-innen mit hoher und niedriger Theateraktivität durch Dramapädagogik differenziert fördern. In: Tagungsband Dramapädagogik-Tage 2019.
Andreas Wirag is a Postdoc researcher at the TEFL department of Georg-August Universität Göttingen. His research is part of the project (third-party-funds, Rat für kulturelle Bildung) “Bühne frei: Schulische Bildungsangebote im Bereich Darstellendes Spiel und ihre Wirkung auf die Persönlichkeitsentwicklung”. He studied English and Spanish (secondary-school teaching degree) at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Brsg. and has stayed in Spain and England. He finished his “Referendariat” and worked as a teacher for two more years. He was as a PhD researcher at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and the graduate school “Teaching and Learning Processes” at Universität Koblenz-Landau.
Carola Surkamp is Professor of TEFL at the University of Göttingen. After her studies in English, French and Spanish at the Universities of Cologne and Nantes, she taught English Literature and Film at the University of Giessen, from where she also received her PhD. She is the co-author of various books on the use of literature and films in the foreign language classroom, edited the encyclopedia Metzler Lexikon Fremdsprachendidaktik (22017) and is co-editor of the journal Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch. Since 2008 she has been a member of the Advisory Board of Scenario – Journal for Performative Teaching, Learning, Research. Her main research interests include literature and film in the EFL classroom and at university, teaching reading, drama activities in language learning, (inter)cultural learning and teacher education.