Drama as a Resource for Giving Language More Meaning
by Sam Smith
The group is an open group in the general English school.
Their level is upper-intermediate, however as always there
is a significant difference in levels within the group, different
students being better and worse in the various skills and
in language and learning ability.
Their reasons for, goals in and experience in learning are
also diverse, the group comprising of school and university
students and working people, either paying for themselves
or their company paying.
Their reasons for learning range from work / self to living
in an English speaking country.
Their learning history is, of course, significantly diverse,
however after being together now for over 5 months we have
a good, supportive environment and students do want to learn.
One worrying point though is their tendency to miss classes,
usually about 6 turn up. I understand that they are working
and have other commitments and they do generally tell me if
they will be missing for a few lessons due to a business trip
or something predictable.
is generally good all round, her spoken English is quite slow
and deliberate and her listening is a bit lacking however
she has a good attitude to learning, and will try her best.
She still has some problems keeping up with some activities
in class and I sometimes have to explain to her what she should
be doing again.
Anna (1) was at first one of the weakest in the group in terms
of her overall level, but she methodically applies herself
and has improved more than everyone else, particularly her
grammatical knowledge. She now, takes part well in class in
Anna(2) has little problem in any skills work, her grammar
and vocabulary are weaker though. Unfortunately, due to work,
she attended poorly in December and January and fell behind
a bit. Recently, however, she has been to every lesson and
is quickly catching up.
Valle struggles a little bit with grammar and her listening
and speaking skills are quite poor, however she copes well,
making use of what she knows. She missed a lot of classes
in January and February due to an injury but really surprised
me when she came back, having kept up at home with her English
and using her time off work to really study.
Patricia is very strong and outspoken. She participates fully
in all activities and is happy to help other students in the
class. Her English in general is very good in all areas.
Maria did 2 intensive courses last summer, is also doing a
conversation course, and has increased her level very noticeably.
She attends well and works well in class and at home and has
a very sound grounding in English on which to build.
Carmen is the youngest in the group, still at school, but
is very mature and makes the classes more lively. Her English
is good in all areas but particularly in speaking and listening.
Carlos is Maria's brother and has followed the same route
as her, however while his sister has attended well, he has
not and relies on his existing knowledge to progress. His
vocabulary is now slightly lacking but he employs coping strategies
Maru is fine all round, though a little bit shy. She has shown
herself to be very good receptively and productively and is
very serious about her English. She has only been in the group
since January but now seems happily settled in.
Marina is the newest addition to the group, having been in
the group now for about 4 weeks (not including breaks for
holidays), she is becoming more and more part of the group
and making friends with the older students. She is very communicative
in pair work and becoming less shy in open group work. Although
her level of language knowledge is slightly lacking, she copes
well with all skills work.
Students will be motivated by the lesson as the content will
depend on their own and their teacher's personal experience.
Students will be able to relate to the context of the lesson
and therefore language will be contextualised.
Students have met and practised the target structures in spoken
and written form.
By miming the dialogue, meaning will have been made clear
before the words are added.
By working with a partner who has written a different dialogue,
the meaning and form of the target language will maintain
a vital relationship in both listening and speaking.
By performing the spoken part of the dialogue in real time,
great attention will have to be paid to the partner's message,
and the following exchanges will have to be adapted accordingly,
thus aiding proceduralisation.
Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
· Students may have difficulty in recalling, or wanting
to recall an experience like the one described by the teacher.
- Working in pairs or in a 3 should help make the chance of
a story more likely. The good supportive atmosphere in the
class should also make students feel, willing or not to divulge,
· Students may have problems working out a mime. -
The teacher will be ready with lots of suggestions ways to
· Students may feel shy and not want to perform. -
No one will be forced to, but the good atmosphere should help
students lose their inhibitions.
· Students may have difficulty remembering the mime
to put words to it. - The mime can be done again on request.
· Students may have difficulty activating the target
language. - The teacher will remind them.
· When the performance 'with words' takes place, different
pairs may speak and react at different rates. - We will just
have to work together as best we can, the teacher controlling
the pace a bit. The students' good humour could also help
oil the wheels of classroom dynamics but if allowed to go
too far, could detract from the meaning of the dialogue. -
The teacher will have to be prepared for this.
Aids and Materials:
The students' knowledge and experience.
The teacher's experience.
A picture of 2 motorists arguing after a minor road accident.
the lesson procedure
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