Incorporating drama activities in the EFL classroom

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018

Kiskimbayeva Diana, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Oskolkova Anna, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

Speaking is the productive kind of speech activity, namely: a verbal expression of thoughts and feelings. The term focuses on the process of speech. The result of speaking is an oral statement, a text perceived by ear. In direct communication, speaking is accompanied by a hearing and should be based on the possibilities of auditory speech perception.

Today secondary schools, according to methodologists, need the methods of teaching that could not only qualitatively teach, but first of all, to develop the potential of the individual. Modern education is aimed at preparing students not only to adapt, but also to actively master the situation of social change.

Teaching speaking is one of the most difficult tasks in the process of teaching a foreign language. Speaking is a broad concept that includes the main types of speech activity: reading, listening, speaking, dialogue and monologue.

One of the possible ways to overcome these difficulties may be the development of students ' communication skills in teaching a foreign language on the basis of drama games, creating appropriate conditions and developing various methods taking into account the activity-role basis, consistency in teaching foreign languages. Communication involves speech orientation of the educational process.

The relevance of the research is predetermined by teaching speaking in the English lessons as the integral part of educational process. Òhe development of speaking is due to the goals that face the modern school, namely-the formation of a multicultural personality of students who own the system of knowledge about a foreign language not only at the level of understanding, but also free communication. Teaching speaking with creative drama activities makes the improvement of speaking skills in the English language.

Speaking in methodology is mastering students' ability to express thoughts orally.

V.M. Filatov identifies the following specific features of speaking as a type of speech activity:

- speaking is always motivated. In the methodology of teaching foreign language communication it is necessary to speak about the communicative motivation;

- speaking is always deliberately, because the statement pursues any purpose;

- speaking is always an active process, it manifests the attitude of the speakers to the surrounding reality. It is the activity that provides the initiative speech behavior of the interlocutor, which is important for achieving the goal of communication.

There are six broad types of oral communication activities that might be incorporated into curricula in many fields of study. Most are conducive to either formal or informal assignments. Some are realistically possible only in smaller classes or recitation sections, while others are appropriate for large lectures as well.

On their own, any of them can help students learn course materials or ways of thinking (speaking to learn). Incorporated more systematically into a broader curriculum or major, they can together help move students to become more proficient speakers by the time they graduate (learning to speak).

1. One-on-One Speaking (Student-Student or Student-Teacher): Can range from moments punctuating a lecture, where students are asked to discuss or explain some question or problem with the person next to them, to formal student conferences with their instructor.

2. Small-Group or Team-Based Oral Work: Smaller-scale settings for discussion, deliberation, and problem solving. Appropriate for both large lectures and smaller classes and allows levels of participation not possible in larger groups.

3. Full-Class Discussions (Teacher- or Student-Led): Typically less agonistic, argument-based, and competitive than debate and deliberation but still dialogic in character. Often times has the quality of creating an atmosphere of collective, out-loud thinking about some question, idea, problem, text, event, or artifact. Like deliberation and debate, a good way to encourage active learning.

4. In-Class Debates and Deliberations: A structured consideration of some issue from two or more points of view. Debates typically involve participants who argue one side throughout, while deliberation allows for movement by individuals within the process. Both feature reason-giving argument. Can be applied to issues of many kinds, from disputed scientific facts to theories, policy questions, the meaning of a text, or the quality of an artistic production. Can range from two participants to a lecture hall.

5. Speeches and Presentations: Classically, the stand-up, podium speech delivered by an individual from an outline or script. Also includes group presentations or impromptu speaking. A strong element of monologue, but dialogue can be built in with question and answer or discussion with the audience afterward.

6. Oral Examinations: Can take place in the instructor’s office, in small groups, or before a whole class. Range from one oral question on an otherwise written exam to an oral defense of a written answer or paper to an entirely oral quiz or examination. Difficult with very large groups, but an excellent way to determine the depth and range of student knowledge and to stimulate high levels of preparation [1].

The term "dramatization" (derived from buckwheat. "drama" - action, more accurately, the experience in action). Drama activities are techniques, many of which are based on techniques used by actors in their training. Through them, students are given opportunities to use their own personality in creating the material on which part of the language class is based. They draw on the natural ability of everyone to imitate, mimic and express themselves through gesture and facial expression. They draw, too, on students’ imagination and memory, and their natural capacity to bring to life parts of their past experience that might never otherwise emerge. They are dramatic because they arouse our interest, which they do in part by drawing upon the unpredictable power generated when one person is brought together with others [2].

Methods for Incorporating Drama in the ESL class:

1. 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. This is effective for a beginning activity of incorporating drama in the classroom.

2. 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 student choose roles, and then read the play from their seats without acting it out. However, do encourage them to read dramatically, modeling as necessary.

3. Act out the Story

If students are reading a short story such as “The Chaser,” about the man who buys a “love potion” for his unrequited love, have students act out the story or part of the story, working in groups and assigning roles and determining the blocking. This is particularly effective with “short-shorts”: brief, one-scene story with limited characters

4. Write the Dialogue for a Scene

Watch a brief clip of a movie without the sound on. Have students write the dialogue for it and act it out [3].

Dramatic activities include a wide range of activities that give students the opportunity to use real-life language in the classroom. They include the following: mime, role-play, simulation and improvisation.

A Scripted Play -could be use for English language teaching, but the teacher should ensure that the language of the play is within the ability of the students and relevant to their needs. The theme of the play should be interesting and humorous. The language of the play should be communicative. The scenes should be short and the characters should not be too many [4].

Mime -it is a type of physical activity in which somebody acts out an idea or a story through gestures, bodily movement, and facial expressions without the use of words. Through action, the person communicates his/her ideas to his/her audience. Mime as a non-verbal representation of an idea or story, through gestures bodily movement, and facial expression [5]. The aspect of communication emphasized through miming is non-verbal communication. Many linguists support the use of mime in language teaching. Other uses of mime in language learning are outline below:

- it can generate language use where explanation is required;

- it is a way of reinforcing memory and recalling language items, by means of visual association;

- it can be used to learn and practice vocabulary items.

A role-play - could be described as an activity in which students are required to play imaginary role in an imaginary situation. The participants in a role-play are assigned certain roles which they act out in a given context. The context may be a situation in the school, family setting, scenes in the market or restaurant, etc. All these settings provide avenues for students to engage in social interaction and discussion. A role-play involves an imaginary activity and requires somebody to take on a role that is imaginary. It also involves spontaneous interaction of the participants. Teachers can obtain ideas for roles-play from the students’ experiences, books, stories, television program, films, and daily interactions with people.

- Improvisation - can be described as a play without a script. It as an unscripted, unrehearsed, spontaneous set of actions in response to minimal directions from a teacher, usually including statements of whom one is, where one is and what one is doing [6]. An improvisation involves a spontaneous response and the enactment of an unexpected situation.

To carry out the practical part of our work, we chose a textbook for the fifth grade V. Evans, J. Dooley, B. Obey, on which we developed dramatic exercises aimed at the development of English speaking.

It is a task-based English course of five levels based on the Common European Framework of Reference.

In the textbook 138 pages. It consists of 9 units, which include tasks of this type as:

- Use of grammar;

- Vocabulary;

- Speaking and functions;

- Writing.

With regard to written assignments, the textbook offers students to play a scene on some topics, provided as a basis for small texts, which are invited to play a scene on roles or come up with their story, observing the design used in the original text.

In this textbook, creative task for the development of speaking is presented in a small amount, so we decided to make these exercises for this textbook.

The first task is based on the well-known tale of Alexander Pushkin “fisherman and the goldfish”. An excerpt from which is present in the textbook. The children are encouraged to role-play is written on motives of the fairy tale. Action was shortened, changed some moments and ending, the text is adapted for fifth graders. For installation this scenes needs 4 students: the Man, Wife, Fish and Narrator. As far as possible or the request of students, you can add a few minor roles, which will create a "background" scenes. During the action of the scene in the background will go slides depicting locations: sea, house, Palace, etc.

The second task is based on the ballad of Robin Hood . Students need to familiarize themselves with the character Robin Hood, so that they had an idea of who the character was, what he did, etc. Each student is required to learn one passage from the ballad, and in the classroom everyone reads aloud his passage on the roles.

The third dramatic activity is based on the theme "Animals". It was decided to put a scene on R. Kipling's fairy tale "Elephant". It has also been adapted for fifth grade students. The content is very different from the original, written by Kipling. In preparation for the scene includes analysis of roles, rehearsal of actions and replicas, making costumes and scenery.

It is possible add characters (for example, Hippo and ostrich) depending on the number of students. Their replicas are the same replicas of a monkey and a giraffe.

On the topic of weather, the children are invited to participate in the masquerade clip, where groups of 3-4 student represent different seasons, dressed in the appropriate costume and that are associated with spring, summer, autumn and winter. Preparation for the performance also includes several dance movements. In the background during the song there is a video of the images of the seasons. There are also poems about seasons.

The next task is called “what would Superman do?” This is a great warm-up activity to get the students thinking about superheroes and what makes them great. Come up with a few situations. Divide the students into groups and explain that a situation will be presented and they must ask themselves ‘what would Superman do?”. "Superman" - the figurative name of the superhero. In this task students are challenged to invent a superhero, what power he will have, what will be its name what it will suit. As props used pencils, markers, paper for children to draw their superhero. At the end, the students will present their superhero and a plan to solve the problem and save the world. Children are encouraged to beat these situations and try and come up with the most honorable and effective way to fix the problem


1. Six Types of Oral Communication Activities. Retrieved from http: // www. speaking. pitt. edu/about/oral-comm. html on April 23, 2018.

2. Malley and Duff «Drama Techniques in Language Learning» (CUP (2nd Edition), 1982.

3. Levy S. 10 Methods to Incorporate Drama in the ESL Classroom. Retrieved from https: // 6048-10-methods-to-incorporate-drama-in-the-esl.html on April 23, 2018.

4. Byrne D. Teaching oral English. New Edition London: Longman, 1986.

5. Dougill J. Drama activities for language learners. Essential Language Teaching Series, 1987.

6. Landy R.S., Handbook of educational drama and theater, 1982.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018

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