William Shakespeare claimed thatAll the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143
We all realize that,teaching in the primary classroom, is very different from teaching teens or adults, because of the amount of energy children have! Knowing how to channel this energy, will help us achieve balanced lessons without children becoming over-excited on the one hand or bored on the other.
One tool to manage this is, Drama/acting out.
As an English teacher, I have often been amazed at how effective drama is to capture the attention of the students in the EFL classroom. We cannot only teach grammar and phonetics with drama ,but also it has the power to transform the student-actors ,as well as the audience. Therefore, we shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool, to reach our students.
I personally love the use of masks and puppets, in my YL classes!
Puppets or masks can really bring alive a dialogue, role-play or story.
Make simple masks out of paper plates for main characters. Bring in realia and props for children to use for acting out e.g. some real money and a bag for shopping. Have a dressing up box of simple props such as hats, glasses etc. Puppets or finger puppets can be used to liven up even the most boring dialogue, especially when accompanied by funny voices!
In my classes, puppetry works like this: using various odds and ends (paper, glue, cotton, wool etc), each child makes a simple puppet and describes its character to the rest of the class. When several puppets have been described in this way, the children work together in groups to produce a scene using the characters. They could alternatively make puppets of characters in their (course book) -one word-and enact dialogues from the book. (Hand puppets can be made using old socks, stick puppets with ice-cream sticks.)
Generally taking, I firmly believe that, we need to use drama more in the schools. The language can be used in context and makes it come to life. Drama has the potential of making the learning experience fun for the students and even memorable because it is interactive and visual.
The personal nature of improvisation, provides many outlets for self-expression. We all know that, children need to play as an important developmental process.
What is more, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.
The play acting can help to relieve the tension of learning in a second language.
The shyness and fear of using English, very often blocks learning. When the students are having fun, they tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.
Role-playing is a powerful tool,too. It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students. These aspects alone make role-playing beneficial because the students are learning from each other. Apart from the obvious development of communication skills, it encourages leadership, team work, compromise, authentic listening skills .
The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued. In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.
We need imagination to make a better world. In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, we first need to imagine and dream it. I always emphasize my students that fact!
I also tell them that, in life, we are all playing many roles, therefore, we are wearing many masks.Older students,easily understand this.
Few tested methods for incorporating Drama in the EFL class , summarised
Act out the Dialogue
One of the easiest ways to incorporate drama in the classroom is to have students act out the dialogue from their textbooks. Simply pair them up, have them choose roles, then work together to act out the dialogue, figuring out for themselves the “blocking,” or stage movements.
Perform Reader’s Theater
Another good beginning exercise is to do Reader’s Theater. Hand out copies of a short or one-act play, have students choose roles, and then read the play from their seats without acting it out. However, do encourage them to read dramatically, modeling as necessary.It’s an alternative and fun way of practicing reading aloud, as well!
Act out the Story
This is particularly effective with “short-shorts”: brief, one-scene stories with limited characters.
Write the Dialogue for a Scene
Watch a brief clip of a cartoon movie without the sound on. Have older students write a simple dialogue for it and act it out.
Act out and Put Words to an Emotion
Give students an emotion, such as “anger” or “fear”. Have students, either singly or in groups, first act out that emotion then put words to the emotion.
Give “Voice” to an Inanimate Object
What would a stapler say if it could talk? Or an apple? Have students write monologues with inanimate objects as the character. Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy might also be termed a monologue, for example.
After writing them, students can read the monologues aloud.
Create a Character
Have students develop a character, writing a one-page profile on the character’s background, appearance, personality, etc. Have them introduce the character to the class, explaining what interests them about their character.
Write a Monologue
Using the character they’ve already developed, have students write a monologue for that character then perform it.
Have students act out short scenes without dialogue. The rest of the class then supplies the dialogue, developing the “script.”
Put students in groups of two or three, and assign the characters and the situation to the groups.Students create the dialogue and movement themselves.
With careful planning, use of drama enhances our English classroom curriculum and adds fun in our teaching!
Note:Ideas, first found and later tried out in class, on https://busyteacher.org