Friday, May 02, 2008

Using Drama in the EFL Classroom: Essential Props and Materials to Have on Hand

Motivating EFL Learners Using Drama
Motivating our English as a foreign language learners is a constant concern among most EFL teachers. Learners may also be limited English proficiency (LEP) or reluctant due to other intrinsic or extrinsic motivational factors. You might be in need of new techniques for teaching English grammar, verbs or structure in context. Then too, EFL teachers may simply be seeking additional ways to incorporate dynamics into their English language teaching. Whatever the case may be, the addition of drama and dramatic elements is often an enthusiastically welcomed one. In preparation, here are some suggested useful props and materials that will aid in the inclusion of dramas in the EFL class room.

Key Props You Should Have on Hand

Some useful items for simulating a restaurant, café, store or small shop setting include a small table, two to four chairs, a tablecloth, place settings some throw pillows, a throw rug, and an assortment of tableware. For tableware consider plastic tumblers, cups, plates, flatware, cookware, napkins and containers for condiments.

Character Clothing:
To help learners get into character for dramatizations, dialogues and role plays a selection of jackets, smocks, aprons, hats, caps (baseball cap, uniform cap, etc.), masks-to have “Batman” do passive voice, and wigs (in a variety of colors) are easily acquired. Consider additional items such as neckties, boots, scarf, handkerchiefs, bandanas and gloves too.

EFL learners of all ages love to put these into play during dramatic scenes of many different types. All manner of bells, chimes, whistles flutes, rattles and whatever other realia you might be able to come up with will add to your variety of imaginative props.

Toys and Playthings:
These toys and playthings I rather like myself because they can be utilized in a vast array of English as a foreign language class activities, in addition to drama and dialogues usage. Try an assortment of items such as: balloons, dolls, stuffed animals, marbles, jacks, decks of playing cards, an inflatable ball (like a beach ball), a smaller rubber ball, baseball or soccer ball, a pair of dice, some popular board games, a set of checkers, some dominoes, and a chess set.

Settings Accessories:
For simulating settings try props like ashtrays, timers, an hourglass, bags in assorted sizes, a very dull razor, shave cream, an egg timer, spray bottles, and a free-standing clock. Likely you’ll already have assorted books, paper, pens, rulers, scissors and other stationery items on hand in the class room to fill out this assortment of props.

Lights, Camera, Action!
Certainly, you won’t need to have all of these items on hand. Whatever is available and suits the conditions under which you teach will drive which of these things you’ll ultimately work with. Your learners will undoubtedly have many other suggestions too. Just remember to allow them free or “unguided” practice with the English language in context, performing dialogues, dramas, skits and role plays, have fun with it and above all enjoy the results.

Take a quick look at this skit a group of my learners did using a few simple props. It’s called, “What Will Jackie Say?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 90 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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