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Part I

Strategies of Using Drama in Teaching


Vocabulary and Grammar

1. Introduction

Drama is essentially a creative activity involving movement,


language, imagination, emotion and social interaction to represent a story,
a situation, a moment or an act. Drama can also involve clothing, objects,
scenery and music. When the word " drama " is mentioned several words
come to mind: roleplay, acting, pretending, miming, performance, theatre,
puppets, characters, scenes ... the list is endless. In the classroom drama
activities range from simple games involving movement, to an extended
project culminating in public performance.
Through drama, children expand their knowledge of the world; they
learn social skills and develop their communication skills. When they take
on the role of another character, they consider the thoughts, feeling and
perspectives of people different from themselves. At the same time drama
is a natural part of child's play. Children often act out events in their lives
which helps them understand the word and gives them practice in adult
situations in a safe environement.
Since drama involves using language for interaction and
communication, drama activities have found their way into the language
classroom. The emphasis on real communication in the language learining
has also meant that language teachers need to consider context, intonation
and body language as well as the actual words in oral communication.
Drama by its very nature involves all of these elements.
When teaching English, teachers need to concern themselves with
more than just children's language learning. Children are still developing
and growing physically, emotionally and intellectually, and this whole
developement is not separated from their English learning. This needs to
be considered when choosing activities for the language classroom. Drama
activities are ideal in this regard, as they develop the whole child and
develop the child's language skills at the same time.
Stories are a major part of a child's life. Children hear stories told to
them or read to them by parents and teachers. Stories are brought to
children through songs and rhymes, but also through television and
cinema. Events in stories often raise complicated life isssues or they
introduce children to aspects of the adult world they may not have
experienced before. Dramatising stories allows children to explore these
issues.
Drama also gives meaning to the language of the story. While
familisation of the story is supported through reading and language
activities.
Choosing the right activities for our pupils and for the story depends
on many things:
 The language abilities of the pupils.
Pupils with more language and greater fluency can better handle
improvisation activities, whereas beginning pupils can mime and speak
selected lines chorally.
 Their general confidence level

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Some classes have a higher energy level than others and will enjoy more
active, vocal activities. Some pupils are more concerned with accuracy and
are less willing to try fluency activities, no matter what their level.
 The classroom environment
We will need to consider the use of classroom space in each activity and
choose those that can be adapted to your classroom.
 The nature of the story and the text
Some stories have more action in them and are therefore more suitable for
miming activities and some have little action. Some story texts contain
dialogues to act out, some stories are primarily narrative and do not have
much direct speach.
Pupils should be very familiar with the story before using drama
activities. Because drama requires confidence, spontaneity and
imagination, pupils should know the story well and be comfortable with
the language of the story. Having pupils imporvize or mime the story they
do not know well can be demoralizing because it presents challenges they
cannot meet.