Drama in the classroom activities for language teachers

What drama in the classroom activities should you propose if you are trying to embody drama in your language classes? There is plenty of publications, e-books and online blogs collecting drama games. What I noticed, though, is that those exercises usually come without precise instructions and tips specifically crafted for language teachers. In this article you are going to learn about four drama games which are really as easy to implement as effective and engaging. I added notes and tips for the language teachers. The suggestions come from my personal experience as a language teacher and as language teachers trainer, as well.

Furthermore, I prepared a handy blueprint of the exercises for you to use when you plan your lessons. You can download the blueprint below:

 

Before you give the drama games a go in your next language classes, I want you to become well aware of the benefits of teaching languages through drama, as well as about how to embody drama exercises into your lesson plans in the most effective way.

The hot topics you are going to learn about are the following ones:

  • What are the benefits of implementing drama in the classroom activities?
  • What kind of problems do drama in the classroom activities actually solve?
  • Drama in the classroom activities: what are the main do’s and don’t’s?
  • How should you embody drama in the classroom activities into your lesson plans?

 

What are the benefits of implementing drama in the classroom activities?

When we teach languages, we want to teach the students to communicate. Well, drama is nothing more than pure communication. The great thing about proposing drama in the classroom activities is that you can create the ideal conditions for your students to feel free and at ease to interact as if they in a real situation. In a nutshell, the main benefits of teaching languages through drama are the following ones:

  • Students interact and speak spontaneously and creatively
  • Students boost their confidence because they interact within safe communicative situations that match their actual level and skills
  • Students well engage with the lessons because they have fun
  • Students focus on the communicative act rather than on the grammar only: this is pure speaking practice.

 

What kind of problems do drama in the classroom activities actually solve?

Drama can help you solve two main problems:

  • Students’ low engagement
  • Difficulty in getting the students to speak and to write creatively and spontaneously.

Drama in the classroom activities are fun and engaging. Especially if you propose with basic, simple exercises, you create the conditions for the students to relax and to enjoy your lessons.

Some language teachers struggle to get their students to speak the target language. In fact, even the best students in the group might experience a lack in confidence when it comes to speaking. Well, drama exercises ask the students to step out the usual, well-known lesson routine. Finally, the students feel like they can really express themselves and they can unleash their creativity through the target language. That is a true motivation booster, too.

 

Drama in the classroom activities: what are the main do’s and don’t’s?

  • Make sure you pick drama games that are suitable for the students’ level: a free improvisation exercise might be too much for beginner level students, whilst the same exercise is perfect for intermediate level students. Getting creative with the target language can be challenging enough: don’t get the students involved in challenges they can’t be ready for.
  • Make sure you pick drama games according to how familiar the students are with drama in the classroom activities: if your students are not familiar with drama exercises, maybe starting with a sing-along activity may be too far from their zone of comfort! Try something they can easily deal with. In this article I give guidelines about how to choose the right drama exercises for challenging your students without them to reject what you propose.
  • Prepare in advance flash-cards, scenarios, guidelines, instructions as much as you can for walking the students through the exercises at every single step. You want them to focus on the communicative act, therefore you need to bear in mind your goal is to simplify the job for the students. If the instructions are too complicated, too difficult to understand and to implement, they will be put off. Don’t choose fancy exercises, instructions ought to be easy to understand.
  • Give room for creativity and personalisation within a clear framework, or the students might get lost. You want the students to revise topics, to consolidate their skills. They need to get creative by sticking to the main purpose of the lesson you planned.
  • Always adapt the drama exercises to the topics you want to cover in the curriculum: vocabulary, grammar, communicative functions, and so on.

 

How should you embody drama in the classroom activities into your lesson plans?

If you are just starting out, I recommend to do the four exercises you can find on the blueprint below as activities for revising topics you taught in class. In this way you’ll find it easier to implement those exercises in your lessons because you would ask the students to get creative with something they have been acquiring, rather than with something totally new to them.

 

Wrapping up

My goal was to provide you with an easy-to-implement starting kit for beginning to teaching languages through drama. You don’t have to be an experienced drama instructor, don’t worry. What is more important is that you are clear on the purpose of the drama in classroom activities, on what to expect and on how to facilitate the group.

Would you like to get more drama games specifically adapted for language teaching? Join the Facebook group: I post fresh exercises every week.

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19th May 2021
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