Issue 1: Professional Seminar in ELT — Implementing Drama in English Classrooms

By Vincent Li (LED Year 4, 2006-2007)

More than 170 pre-service and in-service teachers attended a well-received seminar on 13 January 2007, which was co-organized by English Teacher Education on the Net (ETENet) and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the Faculty of Education.

Aimed to introduce innovative ideas on the ways to implement language arts (drama) in English language teaching, the Seminar included four presentations and two workshops.

At the presentations, four experienced English teachers shared their experience of implementing drama in the regular syllabus. As reflected in the post-seminar questionnaires, the ideas, techniques and strategies introduced by the speakers were found to be useful to the participants in actualizing drama teaching in classrooms. In addition, majority of participants agreed that drama should be integrated into the English language curriculum, but not as a separated activity, as it can easily and effectively motivate students’ interests in learning English.

At the workshops, two drama educators introduced several practical activities which can be used in the language classrooms. Most participants were deeply impressed by the speakers’ enthusiasm for drama. They believed the hands-on experience they received in the workshops would be beneficial to their future teaching of drama in language classrooms.

Session Highlights

Primary Stream Presentations

Ms Mak Yee Kiu, started off by sharing her own acting experiences and then the year-long moderations in teaching arrangements when helping students produce a drama performance of themselves called “The King and the Queen’s new clothes”. There was also a short demonstration of the drama towards the end of the presentation by her students in which chanting is highlighted in script writing.

Ms Ng Kit Chee, on the other hand, talked us through her one-year programme with her Primary 3 students in which every student took place. It is about creating drama activities from the pre-assigned course book where students were given chance to do story-rewriting, role-playing and creating the theme song in the normal language classroom. Both presenters acknowledged one of the powerful effects of drama as boosting students’ confidence.

Secondary Stream Presentations

In the secondary stream, Mr Richard Cowler brought us four strategies to make drama work in the language classroom namely freeze frame, talking thought, bringing the freezed alive and hot seating. The effective use of them as pre- and post-reading activities was illustrated with the story “Eat your peas” written by Kes Gray and Nick Sharratt.

Ms Lau Siu Pei shared with us her experience of adapting a story entitled “The Islanders” to introduce drama activities in the classroom. She successfully used the story to arouse students’ interest in reading and got students to express their feelings and concerns on issues raised in the story. During the process, Ms Lau was actually acting with the students where she demonstrated the use of voice and gestures.

Workshops

In the primary section, Ms Krissy Lam started off the workshop by some warm-up activities like freeze frame and still-image where participants were asked to use their bodies to crystallize moments, ideas or objects. She then introduced several more drama conventions like hot-seating, gossip mill and conscience alley. Participants got the chance to experience these conventions using the story  “The Nightingale” written by H.C. Andersen.

As for the workshop conducted by Ms Phoebe Chan for secondary school teachers, the story “The Little Prince” was chosen as the basis for illustration of how drama conventions could be used to arouse students’ interest in reading a story book. At the beginning, participants were exposed to the ways of building up a collective memory of the story using freeze frame. They were then introduced to hot seating and finally got to use their imagination and free associations to improvise a scene using the strange events in the story. A discussion was held at the end of the session for exchanging of ideas and sharing of views on how modifications could be made to suit different students’ ability and need.

Here is slideshow of the pictures taken in the event. Have a look and enjoy!
http://www.slide.com/r/uCRsgXA-xj8wAy9aaqh9LxZV9M1w4FUn?previous_view=mscd_embedded_url

In the seminar, the speakers also suggested some resources and reference books for using drama in ELT:
1. Drama Worlds — Cecily O’ Neil
2. Structuring drama work: a handbook of available forms in theatre and drama — Jonothan Neelands
3. Drama Techniques in Language Teaching — Alan Maley and Alan Duff

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