As an ESL teacher I often try to think of new ways to capture the attention of my students and keep their interest and enthusiasm levels as high as possible. I have always been fond of using songs in my lessons to not only teach vocabulary but also to teach students about nouns, verbs etc…
After the school at which I currently teach introduced an exciting summer course that used drama in the classroom, I decided to try to incorporate these kinds of activities in as many of my lessons as possible.
Focus on the Target Language and Authentic Speech
This yielded some surprising and unexpected results. Not only did my students enjoy these drama activities, but because each activity incorporated such a wide range of skills, I found that my students were able to pick up the target language much faster. It also aided in getting my students to not sound as robotic as they sometimes do.
Integrating Drama and Songs into ESL Classes
One of the biggest and most worthwhile benefits of using songs and drama was that it turned me (the teacher), into what I would like to call ‘a support structure’, and forced the students to be more actively involved in their own learning process.
Reasons to Use Drama in your Classroom:
1. Drama is great to help those students who may not be as confident as the others get a little boost in their confidence and self-esteem.
2. Drama incorporates a wide range of learning styles and takes care of the needs of all students.
3. It teaches students how to work together and encourages a team classroom ethic.
4. Drama teaches both, pronunciation and body language.
Ways to incorporate drama in your classroom:
1. Acting out dialogues – Have students split into groups and act out the dialogues from their books. Encourage them to incorporate body movement and emotion when speaking.
2. Dramatic readings – Some students may not always want to be the center of attention, so a great activity is to have students sit facing away from each other (so they cannot see each other) and have them read out their dialogues. Do encourage them to read dramatically.
3. Create a character – Have students create a character that has a different personality from their own. Have certain times during the class where students are no longer themselves but take on the role of the character they have created. This can be great for boosting confidence if you have students wear a mask when they become the character.
4. Improvising – Put students into groups and give them character cards and a situation. Then have them use the language they have learnt in these short 2 to 3 minute scenes.
By Fahraaz Dockrat
Fahraaz Dockrat studied teaching in Durban, South Africa. He majored in English and computer programming and has been teaching for the past six years. Fahraaz is currently living in Changzhou where he works as an English teacher with EF Education First Changzhou. He dreams of one day running his own drama school.