Drama in the language classroom

IMG_20141215_095428_442My most important goal this year is to help students to understand input without translating for them.  I mentioned some activities in my post Teaching Literature: Imagery

I wanted to dedicate a post just to the use of drama for helping the students with interpretation or to familiarize them more with new vocab and grammar.

I recently had my Spanish IV’s use a new set of vocabulary that had to do with household chores to create skits in groups about a parent/child conflict.  They decided which members of the group would be “parents” and which were “children”.  Grammatically, they were reinforcing the use of the subjunctive vs the infinitive.  Parents had to use the subjunctive to say what they wanted the kids to do.  The kids used phrases with infinitives to say what they wanted to do.

– Quiero que limpien la sala ahora.  Insisto en que sacudan los muebles y pasen la apiradora.
– No tenemos que limpiar la sala ahora. Podemos limpiar luego. Ahora queremos jugar afuera.

 Watch one of the groups perform here: (they gave me permission to share on my blog) https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_88aAyhx9wKRWk3TDFtYmNhN3M/view?usp=sharing

Here is the accompanying assignment: Obra de drama  I prefer to just use a checklist instead of a rubric for the grading of many of these group projects.

Sometimes, though, you want to draw on the strong performers you have in a class.  We recently did a “live reading activity” by letting volunteers act the skit out after the class had finished reading it:

I found a sample skit in a communicative assignment from our textbook.  I copied it and added more lines.  Four volunteers in the class were excused from an assignment in class while they went out to rehearse.  They got to rehearse the next class as well – while they were rehearsing, the rest of the class used the script as a reading assignment and answered the questions I had created.When the group came in to perform, the class had an idea of what was going on.

I think they enjoyed it.  Here are the groups from both classes:

Here is a copy of the script: Script for La sala de emergencias

I don’t reserve these activities for the upper levels.  My Spanish II classes just made skits in groups as well.  I was using it to reinforce past tenses and to familiarize them with the new vocabulary in context.  They had to create a script using the imperfect to set the scene, the preterite to say what happened, and the vocabulary related to illnesses and accidents.  The assignment includes a chart in which I put phrases they could use and modify.  They did a great job with it and I felt content that they were reading the vocabulary in context and understanding how these difficult phrases are used.  Obra de drama en grupos, SP2

You don’t have to have a script.  Use any short story and divide it into sections.  Let the students work in groups to narrate and act out the portion they have.  This way, those more comfortable with performing do the acting out, and those who are not can do the reading/narrating, but all are involved.  There was a short story in our book that was describing a typical day for Juan.  As one student read about Juan waking up and brushing his teeth, another student acted it out.

Another tip for getting the students to buy into this acting bit – I’m constantly adding to my Box o’ Props… wigs, strange clothes, funny glasses or hats (all cheap, usually second-hand or bought on halloween clearance).  Students are allowed to use anything in there when they are performing. 

Please share other ways you have found to use drama in the language classroom. 

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