Saturday, February 04, 2006

How to Add Drama to an EFL Class or Start a Drama Group

As English language teaching professionals we’re always on the lookout for new ideas and activities to expand the repertoire of dynamics in our EFL class rooms. One area which could always use more attention is the use of drama. It’s all around us and our learners in the media of television, radio, cinema, stories in the printed media and the internet. Everyone loves a good story. So why not then incorporate more drama into our class rooms? Here are some interesting ways you could initiate Drama into an EFL class or new drama group.

Role Play activities from the learner text books

If you’re using a course book such as Interchange, American Channel, Headway, Cutting Edge, First Class, etc. you can have the learners start out by "acting out" dialogues from their text books. Additional scenes to cover what happened before and after the dialogue can be created and added for even more dimension.

Act Out video scenes

If there is a video from the same course book series learners can act these out too. In this case also, additional before and after scenes can be created and added to expand and deepen the role play context. Be sure to use realia and props in the scene dramatizations to help the learners get "into character". And by all means, be creative. If the dramas are recorded (video and/or audio you can easily demonstrate improvement in technique, speech, language use, fluency, etc. to the students later on.

Use Scenes From Movies

Use dramatic scenes from movies and films as a basis for drama / dialogue practice. Famous, popular or memorable movie scenes work best. Have learners take the roles of characters in the movie scene and do the same lines as the original actors imitating accent, gestures, discourse, etc. Students can also put their own personal “spin” or “interpretation” on the scene and dialogue for added interest. Encourage the use of the local variety of English for added impact. Here are some famous line starting scene suggestions:

Dirty Harry - "Go ahead, make my day."

The Terminator: "I'll be back."

The Godfather, Don Corleone: "We’re going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

You get the idea. Just expand to use the full scenes surrounding these famous lines. For maximum punch, have the learners get into “costume” as well as character. When learners at the university where I teach did a play in which the Devil bargained with characters for their soul, the “Devil” made his pitch dressed and painted in red. He even sported “horns” and a “tail” complete with a barb at the end. It sure worked for me.

You could get even more mileage from these activities and materials, if you videotape or audio-tape record and use them for listening comprehension, error-correction exercises, pronunciation, language use or grammar practice activities. Other drama activities are discussed in the article “How to Dramatize Your Foreign Language Teaching and Learning”. Try some of these ideas out for yourself. Please do feel free to let me know about your progress and experiences. Good luck.

Prof Larry M. Lynch is a certified English language teacher / trainer, bi-lingual copywriter, expert author and photographer specializing in business, travel, food and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America, Mexico News and Brazil magazines. He teaches at a university in Cali, Colombia. To read more or get additional original, exclusive language education based articles and content for your newsletter, blog or website contact him at:

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