Drama forEnglish Language LearnersWendy K. MagesHarvard Graduate School of Education
Drama & LanguageTheoryBeing exposed to a flow of language is not nearly so important as using it in the midst of doing (Bruner, 1990, p. 70)
Research3 Meta-Analyses indicate drama does affect language development(Conard, 1992; Kardash & Wright, 1987; Podlozny, 2000)
Why is Drama Beneficial for Language Acquisition?Provides a context for language use
Drama simultaneously engages the mind, the body, and the emotions
First Stanza of the PoemThere were a few dozen who occupied the fieldacross the road from where we lived,stepping all day from tuft to tuft,their big heads down in the soft grass,though I would sometimes pass a windowand look out to see the field suddenly emptyas if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.
A Taste of DramaSample a number of drama strategies
Experience what it is like to be a student in a drama class
Drama Teaching TechniquesFreezeEnsures safety of participants
Side CoachingListen to the words I useI will try to coach you with my voice
No Right or WrongCreates safe environment for explorationEncourages participation
Strategy: Walk AboutTechniquesFast & SlowHeavy & LightLarge & SmallHigh & Low
RationaleEngage participantsDramatizing vocabularyAids comprehensionAids retentionI used vocabulary from the poem
Strategy: Character WalkTechniquesLead with your headLead with your ToesLead with one shoulderEtc.
RationaleEncourages whole body engagementTeaches vocabulary for body parts
Strategy: GreetingsTechniquesHelloUse just your eyesUse your head and faceUse your head, face, and voiceGoodbyeTouch feetTouch elbowsIntroductionsFormalInformalRationaleBegin collaborative workTeaches basic greetings in contextTeaches informal and formal introductions
Strategy: StatuesTechniqueNumber off by twosUse your whole body to show me HappySadWar (view museum)Peace (view museum)
RationaleEngage body in vocabulary development
Strategy:Group Sculpture TableauxTechniqueAs a group build a sculpture of a wordSculptures:Waiting for RainShockingMysteriousPain
RationaleEncourage collaborationVocabulary development
Strategy: Word SymphonyTechniqueDistribute words from textAllow students to experience the sound of the wordsConduct the word symphony
RationaleEncourage students to explore the sound of wordsIntroduces vocabulary from the text
Strategy: Choral ReadingTechniqueShow first stanza of poemDistribute lines of the poemDiscuss line meaning in small groupsStudents collaborate to perform poemRationaleIntroduces text interpretationIntroduces text performancePromotes comprehension
So why do educators and administrators remain unconvinced of the relevance of drama in early childhood education?
Dont Read It (hard to locate) or Cant Interpret It
Interdisciplinary nature of DRAMA researchDifficult to synthesize the findings
Scholars note that much drama research is marred by methodological flaws
Flaws limit the interpretability of researchThis may prevent educators and administrators from using this research as the basis for curricular programming.