Language teachers have to face two difficulties in their classrooms. On the one hand they need to change the naturally exuberant imaginative energy of the children into activity which is not merely enjoyable but which also has a language pay-off. On the other, they need to develop a repertoire of concrete activities which appeal to children to do as well to avoid chaos and boredom.
Just a few drama activities can bring an EFL/ESL classroom to life. The trends in English Language Teaching (ELT) lean heavily toward communicative and authentic language use. Drama provides lots of immediate resources and is fun for teacher and students alike.
I mainly use Drama in class Projects presentations !Also, I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!
School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.
Taking part in a school musical production has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.
I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different books or sites such as
The main points concerning drama, which I have in mind ,when I ask my students to get involved in such activities ,are:
Suspension of disbelief
When we watch a film or a play on television
or in the theatre, we ignore the fact that the
actors are not actually, detectives, doctors or
murderers. We engage in the drama because
we are able to suspend our disbelief, we are
able to pretend that the actors are the
characters they portray that the locations are
not stage sets or studios and the words spoken
by the actors are a prepared script, not the
spontaneous thoughts of the characters.
Students in an ELT classroom also need to
suspend disbelief, otherwise they would be
endlessly frustrated by the fact that the
teacher does not speak in the mother tongue
she shares with her students.
Drama and Games
‘Pretend games’ are a central part of a child’s
education. When they dress up as a princess,
they become a princess. Their toys are not
painted pieces of metal, wood or plastic, they
are cars, guns, space rockets. Their toys get
sick, recover, get angry and feel emotions.
The ELT classroom is a ‘pretend game’ in
exactly the same way.
Preparation for real life
Few of our students will become princesses
or astronauts, but all of them will become
English language users. The classroom game of
pretending to interact in English is a rehearsal
for future interactions in English.
Most actors would agree that rehearsals are a
time for hard work, careful listening and
intense performance but they are also an
enjoyable experience. They are a time for
experimenting and having fun before the real
Students and teachers need to adopt the same
attitude to their language classes.
Drama or dramatic activities I use in my classes
Mime helps develop students’ power of imagination and observation and can also be quite simply ” a source of great enjoyment” with students tending “to be very enthusiastic about this aspect of drama”, (Hayes, 1984)
Its strength lies in that although no language is used during
the mime, the mime itself can act as a catalyst to generate and elicit language before, during and after the activity.
In role play the participants are assigned roles which they act out in a given scenario.
The main benefit of role play from the point of view of language
teaching is that it enables a flow of language to be produced that might be otherwise difficult or impossible to create. Role play can also help recreate the language students used in different situation, the sort of language students are likely to need outside the classroom
My students have roles, functions, duties ,
and responsibilities within a structured situation involving problem solving.
Simulations are generally held to be a structured set of circumstances’ that mirror real life and in which participants act as instructed.
A simulation activity is one where the students discuss a problem within a defined setting, In simulation activities, the students are either playing themselves or someone else.
A simulation activity provides a specific situation within which students can practice various communication skills like asserting oneself, expressing opinions, convincing others, arguing eliciting opinions, group-problems-solving, analyzing situations and so on…
Improvisation is an excellent technique to use in the FL/L2 classroom as it motivates the learners to be active participants in authentic situations thereby reducing their self consciousness. At the beginning students will be hesitant and shy to participate in the activities, but after a few sessions they will become more enthusiastic and there will be a phenomenal improvement in their confidence level.
I use it a great deal in my lessons!
Improvisation exercises could involve an entire class of learners or smaller groups.
Once the context has been provided the learners will participate spontaneously in the exercise.
A whole class improvisation exercise could eg involve the students at a market where some are the buyers and others the sellers. My role is to provide the context and the participants act out their roles spontaneously without any planning.
I often use finger play activities, chants and actions songs to help make transitions in the junior class more effective, settling everyone down so that I’ve got all of the children’s attention and also, help them learn in the most enjoyable way!
Puppets can be used in an English class:
- to teach greetings
- to teach prepositions
- to teach comparatives and superlatives
- to dramatize dialogues
- in word games
- to present facts about nutrition
- in rhythm studies
- in biographies
- in sketches
Puppetry is of special benefit to shy and nervous children and also gives the feeling of involvement and participation to the entire class. Our puppet shows give a sense of relief from the tension of classroom teaching and add variety to the lesson.
Therefore, a puppet theatre can be an excellent piece of equipment in a second language classroom….trust me!
In general, Drama activities facilitate the type of language behaviour that should lead to fluency, and if it is accepted that the learners want to learn a language in order to make themselves understood in the target language, then drama does indeed further this end.
The advantages to be gained from the use of drama is that students become more confident in their use of English by experiencing the language in operation. Drama in the English language classroom is ultimately indispensable because it gives learners the chance to use their own personalities. It draws upon students’ natural abilities to imitate and express themselves, and if well-handled should arouse interest and imagination. Drama encourages adaptability, fluency, and communicative competence . It puts language into context, and by giving learners experience of success in real-life situations it should arm them with confidence for tackling the world outside the classroom.
I want to stress that, children learn languages actively seeking to interpret meaning from context ,making creative use of language they know, using an instinct for talking and interacting and indirect learning e.g. through games and songs.a capacity to find fun ,an ability to use fantasy and imagination.
And also it is very important to keep in mind that learning and teaching is a very complicated process.
“…we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child. “ Dr. Maria Montessori
And so: ” Why use drama in the EFL classroom?” We can create desirable conditions for learning and teaching in our EFL classes using drama activities and it is very enjoyable for both students and teachers!
Charlyn Wessel , 1987, Drama ,Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.
Jill Hadfield , 1992, Classroom Dynamics , Oxford; OUP Resource Books for Teachers.
Sarah Phillips, 2003,Drama with Chidren, Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.
S. Halliwell, 1995, Teaching English in the Primary Classroom ,Oxford; OUP, Resource Books for Teachers.