Using Drama in teaching languages to primary-aged children
A project -These shoes are made for talking
(lead by Danielle Dion-Jones, St. James’s RC Primary School, Twickenham)Summary
This project uses drama to stimulate real communication, generate spontaneous interaction and increase cultural awareness. Using process drama techniques, pupils and teachers step into someone else’s shoes and ‘become’ someone from another country who does not speak or understand English, with pupils using their imagination to create ‘real life’ scenarios.
Our aims for learners
• to increase their level of confidence and independence when communicating in the target language (TL)
• to develop their speaking skills
• to develop their knowledge and understanding of the culture of TL countries
Our aims for teachers
• to experiment with the use of TL in the classroom
• to plan lessons creatively using pupils’ ideas
• to increase their knowledge and understanding of the culture of TL countries
1. Our aims for learners have been achieved in our 3 focus classes. Pupils increased their level of confidence and independence and developed their speaking skills when engaged in process drama. Pupils were curious and keen to enquire about language and culture.
2. Our aims for the teachers were achieved by both specialist and classroom teachers. Teachers experimented with their use of the TL in the classroom, produced a fluid scheme of work using pupils’ ideas and increased their knowledge and understanding of French current language and culture.
3. Our aims for schools/college have exceeded our expectations. The schemes of work are integrated into the curriculum in each of the partner’s schools. Partners have shared their work at various events in and beyond the borough.
4. Partners have considered the effectiveness and sustainability of the approach and how it can be replicated. All teachers involved in the project have embedded some of the strategies into their current practice and are developing new units of work using the approach. Postgraduate teacher trainees agreed the approach was an example of good practice in Primary language teaching. Secondary teachers have expressed an interest in trialling the approach at Key Stage 3.
Other Suggestions (linguanet):
a. Shy pupils will speak from behind a puppet. In fact, puppets have been known to work with an SEN pupil diagnosed as 'elective mute'. One girl was unable to speak to anyone in any language before that. The confidence the experience with the puppets gave her turned out to be the key to her rehabilitation generally.
b. I have used them [puppets] for 30 years in the language classroom, and they have always behaved outrageously, but effectively.