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Using Drama Activities Digitally for English Language Teaching

The Greatest Actor

In most homes, who is the one who has superb acting skills and can easily win the National Award for acting, if we care to take note of her/his talent? A Child.

Children communicate through their faces and gestures to convey what they want, or what they are up to. Indeed, a child is probably the finest actor capable of stellar performances.

Children are naturally drawn towards drama and play-acting. As teachers we know that this is a preliminary stage of growing up in preparation for the later adult roles. The role models for most children are the people they find in their environment. My young nephew started out at four years wanting to be a bus conductor and then a driver (as he travelled by bus to his kindergarten and re-played the scenes again and again at home trying to make sense of this new world). This is just to say that whatever role the child chooses to play, it is fun for her/him and as teachers we need to introduce this fun element in our lessons so that lessons are no longer boring.

Using Drama in Language Teaching

Drama can be used to develop different skills in students. In this article, I want to focus on using drama in language development, particularly English.

Drama activities can be used to improve
• Oral and written communication skills
• Teach new languages
• Interactive skills of students

How can drama improve language skills?

Fluency of expression: The repeated practice of English through responses to visual cues, group discussions, storytelling and dialogue writing will encourage fluency.

Accuracy: Many of the activities have grammar teaching incorporated into them. Learners will be required to keep grammar rules in mind to be able to complete the activities successfully.

Learning a new language: Drama activities introduce the learner to new vocabulary, thoughts and expressions.

Rhythm and pronunciation: Drama activities can make the learner aware of the stress and intonation patterns of English.

Social interaction skills: Nearly all the drama activities have to be done in pairs or groups. This encourages co-operation and team work.

Activities for your Digital Classroom

I have customized the following activity from ‘Using Drama in Language Teaching‘, from Cambridge University Press’s All about language Teaching book series, to suit the current situation where most of the learning is happening digitally.

Activity Name– Using sound effects

In this task, learners try to create a story based on the sounds they hear.

Drama Activity using Sound Effects for English Language teaching

Purpose:
To create a connection between discrete sounds through the use of imagination
To build a story based on sound effects
To listen attentively

Language link: To be able to express one’s own ideas and thoughts in simple English

Level: Middle and Secondary school

Materials: Record sound effects sitting inside your home. Use your phone to record interesting sounds in your house, such as running footsteps, knocking on the door, the sound of doorbells, the
ticking of wall clocks, shrieks, laughter, sound of water, washing machine, etc.

Process:

  • Send these different sounds to your students via mail or whatsapp in your class group or upload on your digital classroom platform.
  • Ask students to listen to a series of sounds.
  • Ask them to make a note of the sounds they hear and what they feel when they hear these sounds.
  • Ask students to pick up these different sounds and write a story around these recordings.
  • You can divide students in groups too, and students can communicate with each other via collaborative tools or phone.
  • Tell your students that the sounds need not be used in the sequence in which they are played.

For example, let us assume that the learners listen to the sound of a doorbell ringing, a shriek, laughter, footsteps and a knock. The story they create could be as follows:

I was alone at home that night. I heard the doorbell ring. I opened the door but there was no one outside. I was surprised and shut the door again. Just then I heard a soft knock on the door. I was a bit scared. I slowly opened the door. There was no one outside but I heard footsteps running along the back of the house. I was very curious to know what was going on. I stepped out and followed the sound of the footsteps. Suddenly, I felt a hand over my shoulder. I shrieked and turned around. I saw that my friends were standing around me. They started laughing. They had planned to scare me.

Instructions for your students:
1. Listen to a series of sounds
2. As you listen, jot down what these sounds make you think of. ( e.g., a loud jangling noise can make you think of a lot of utensils falling or a train accident or a quarrel or a madman etc)
3. Now discuss with members of your group and build a story based on these sound effects. Remember, you need not use the sounds in the same sequence as they were played to you.
4. You can mail me the story or narrate the story you created to the class in the next live session.

There are many skills that we can develop through drama activities, but we may often feel unsure about trying out all these in our classrooms.


Cambridge University Press book Using Drama in Language Teaching

Indrani Baura is the author of Using Drama in Language Teaching by Cambridge University Press.

ALL ABOUT LANGUAGE TEACHING is a series of books that aims to help teachers in primary and secondary schools with their professional training and development. Written in an easy-to-understand style and simple language, the books in the series assume little prior knowledge of pedagogy and theories of language teaching. The topics and issues addressed in the books in this series would be relevant to teachers both in India and in other SAARC countries.


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Written by Indrani Barua

I believe in not limiting myself to any particular role and so I am a short story writer ( English and Bengali) , a Translator, a playwright and director of children's plays both for the stage and for the radio, an amateur puppeteer and a storyteller. With  25+ years of teaching experience in schools, I  create content for Course books. This is my way of making-up for not being able to teach directly to the bright young faces any more (something that I miss so much!) At my small children's library at home, I love to interact with children of 4 to 14 learning so much from them and sharing with them my love of books, art and literature and providing counselling to parents.

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