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Drama for English Language Learners

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1 Drama for English Language Learners
Wendy K. Mages Harvard Graduate School of Education

2 Drama & Language Theory Research
“Being ‘exposed’ to a flow of language is not nearly so important as using it in the midst of doing” (Bruner, 1990, p. 70) Research 3 Meta-Analyses indicate drama does affect language development (Conard, 1992; Kardash & Wright, 1987; Podlozny, 2000) So why do educators and administrators remain unconvinced of the relevance of drama in early childhood education? Don’t Read It (hard to locate) or Can’t Interpret It Interdisciplinary nature of DRAMA research Difficult to synthesize the findings Scholars note that much drama research is marred by methodological flaws Flaws limit the interpretability of research This may prevent educators and administrators from using this research as the basis for curricular programming.

3 Why is Drama Beneficial for Language Acquisition?
Provides a context for language use Drama simultaneously engages the mind, the body, and the emotions


5 First Stanza of the Poem
There were a few dozen who occupied the field across 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 window and look out to see the field suddenly empty as if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.

6 A “Taste” of Drama Sample a number of drama strategies
Experience what it is like to be a student in a drama class

7 Drama Teaching Techniques
Freeze Ensures safety of participants Side Coaching Listen to the words I use I will try to coach you with my voice No Right or Wrong Creates safe environment for exploration Encourages participation

8 Strategy: Walk About Techniques Rationale Fast & Slow Heavy & Light
Large & Small High & Low Rationale Engage participants Dramatizing vocabulary Aids comprehension Aids retention I used vocabulary from the poem

9 Strategy: Character Walk
Techniques Lead with your head Lead with your Toes Lead with one shoulder Etc. Rationale Encourages whole body engagement Teaches vocabulary for body parts

10 Strategy: Greetings Techniques Rationale Hello Goodbye Introductions
Use just your eyes Use your head and face Use your head, face, and voice Goodbye Touch feet Touch elbows Introductions Formal Informal Rationale Begin collaborative work Teaches basic greetings in context Teaches informal and formal introductions

11 Strategy: Statues Technique Rationale Number off by twos
Use your whole body to show me Happy Sad War (view museum) Peace (view museum) Rationale Engage body in vocabulary development

12 Strategy: Group Sculpture Tableaux
Technique As a group build a sculpture of a word Sculptures: Waiting for Rain Shocking Mysterious Pain Rationale Encourage collaboration Vocabulary development

13 Strategy: Word Symphony
Technique Distribute words from text Allow students to experience the sound of the words Conduct the word symphony Rationale Encourage students to explore the sound of words Introduces vocabulary from the text

14 Strategy: Choral Reading
Technique Show first stanza of poem Distribute lines of the poem Discuss line meaning in small groups Students collaborate to perform poem Rationale Introduces text interpretation Introduces text performance Promotes comprehension

15 Questions?

16 Thanks!

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