The Crab: Journal of Theatre and Media Arts (Number 7/June 2012, 151159)The Use of Drama and Dramatic Activities in English LanguageTeachingChioma O.C. ChukuegguAbstractThe purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of drama anddramatic activities in English language teaching and learning. Thepaper highlights the benefits that students will derive if they areexposed to the learning of English language through drama anddramatic activities. It explores the socio-cultural theory of LevVygosky, which serves as the theoretical basis for the use of dramain language teaching. The paper also brings to the limelight differentkinds of dramatic activities that could be used to teach Englishlanguage and the strategies for integrating them into Englishlanguage lesson. Finally, the paper emphasizes the fact that dramaand dramatic activities are indispensable tools in English languageteaching and learning.IntroductionThe use of drama and dramatic activities in foreign and secondlanguage teaching is not new. It has lasted for over a century but itcame to the forefront in last three decades. However, this aspect oflanguage teaching is neglected here in Nigeria by English languageteachers, curriculum developers and course book writers. Theinclusion of drama based activities in language teaching is not soevident in current English language teaching course books, resourcebooks, supplementary teaching materials and teacher trainingcourses.Dramatic activities offer students a wide range of opportunitiesto enhance their communication skills, motivation, confidence,problem solving skills, etc. Teachers need practical guidance onhow to incorporate drama and dramatic activities into their teaching.Drama and Dramatic Activities

2Drama can be defined in a number of ways. In a broad sense, itcould be defined as an umbrella term covering “a wide range of oralactivities that have elements of creativity, (Hubbard et al 1986). Inthis case, it includes dramatic activities, such as improvisation, roleplay, simulation, and mime. Drama is an activity involving peoplein a social context. It requires the oral communication and otherforms of communication, such as use of gesture, body movementand intonation. Holden (1982), defined drama as a kind of activity,in which students portray themselves in an imaginary situation.Why Dramatic Activities should be used in English LanguageTeachingThere are a number of reasons why the use of drama is a powerfultool in the language classroom. Desialova (2009) outlines some ofthe reasons for introducing English language learners to drama.They are listed below:1.Drama is an ideal way to encourage learners tocommunicate for real-life purposes.2.To make language learning an active motivating experience.3.To help learners gain the confidence and self esteem neededto use the language spontaneously.4.To bring the real world into the classroom.5.To make language learning memorable through directexperience.6.To stimulate learner’ intellect, imagination, and creativity.7.To develop students’ ability to empathize with others andthus become better communicators.Benefits of Dramatic Activities to StudentsGodfrey (2010), stated that using drama in a language courseprovides active, stimulating, and creative environment in whichstudents can develop their language learning potentials. The use ofdrama enables students to explore their imagination and creativity aswell as express themselves through English Language and otherforms of communicative activities, such as actions, movement,2

The Crab: Journal of Theatre and Media Arts (Number 7/June 2012, 151159)dance, etc. Dramatic activities help students to improve themselvesin the following aspects:8.Positive motivation and self confidence.9.Oral and communication skills10.Authentic language use11.Accuracy and fluency of expression12.Proper pronunciation13.Multisensory and whole-personality learning.14.Learner-centered approach to hearing.Positive motivation and self confidence: Participation in dramaticactivities fosters self awareness and awareness of others. It enhancesone self-esteem and confidence which in-turn boosts motivation.Oral and written communication: Dramatic activities integratelanguage skills in a natural may. It involves careful listening andspontaneous verbal expression. Some of them required reading andwriting.Authentic language use: Through the use of drama, studentsengage in authentic language use. It becomes a means of practicingreal-life language in the classroom. Drama puts language intocontext and gives the students experience in real life situations.Accuracy and fluency of expression: Drama creates ampleopportunities for conversational use of language which promotesfluency of expression. For instance, while students are practicing aplay, they are encouraged to repeat words, phrases and sentencesseveral times. By so doing, they become fluent in using suchexpressions.Multisensory and whole personality learning: Dramatic activitiesprovide opportunities for students to involve their whole personalityand use all their senses, (sight, hearing, feeling, etc.). Dramaactivities also involve the whole personality and not only the mentalprocess.Learner-centered approach to learning: Dramatic activities makeit possible for students to take charge of their own learning. It

4enables for students to test out various situations, registers andvocabularies.Proper pronunciation: Godwin (2001) stated that drama isparticularly effective for pronunciation teaching, because variouscomponents of communicative competence can be practiced in anintegrated way. Some of these components are discourse, intonation,pragmatic awareness, non verbal communication, etc.There are several research studies that support the benefits of dramain second and foreign language learning (Brumfit, 1991; Richard,1987; Maley and Duff, 2001). All these researchers agree thatdramatic activities are useful in helping students to develop oralcommunication skills as well as reading and writing skills. Theyalso help students to communicate in the English language.Theoretical Basis for using Drama in English languageTeachingThe use of drama in language teaching has its theoretical basis onthe socio-cultural theory proposed by a Russian psychologist, LevVygosky (1896-1934). Vygosky believes that children constructtheir own knowledge. One of his assumptions is that cognitive skillsare mediated by words, language, and forms of discourse whichserve as tools for facilitating and transforming mental activities. Inhis view, children’s cognitive skills are ignited and stimulated bysocial interaction and are embedded in a socio-cultural background.Vygosky argued that a child’s language is a tool that helps him/herplan activities and solve problems. He explained that a child’sdevelopment is inseparable from social and cultural activities. Hebelieves that language is vital to the development of a child’smemory and reasoning. In Vygosky’s view, knowledge is situatedand collaborative. By this, he means that knowledge is distributedamong people and the environment which include: objects, artifacts,tools, books and the community in which people live. As a result,knowledge can be facilitated through interaction with other peoplein cooperative and collaborative activities. Vygosky articulatedsome unique ideas about learning and development some of hisconcepts are zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding,(Vygosky, 1962; Santrock, 2001).4

The Crab: Journal of Theatre and Media Arts (Number 7/June 2012, 151159)In relation to the use of drama in language teaching, Vygoskyproposed that play which is a form of activity is important in achild’s cognitive development and that through the process ofinternalization, social activities become mental activities. Hebelieves that children’s’ play is based on their unrealized needs;when their needs are not met, they enter into an imaginary worldthrough play (in which the unrealizable desires can be realized). So,the field of play is a mediator between situations in thought andsituations in reality. Therefore, social meaningful activities, such asdrama serve as a generator of thought and thought generates speech.Haught (2005) asserted that drama-based language teaching is afurther support for Vygoskian view of learning and development. Inrelation to language teaching therefore, Vygosky provided thetheoretical foundation for teaching language through drama. Heemphasized collaboration between the teacher and the students andamong the students themselves. He also emphasized the kind oflearning that occurs authentically, within a collaborativeenvironment. This means that the learning environment should besuch that enables students to play active roles. The teacher and thestudents should collaborate with one another in order to createmeaningful learning.Using Dramatic Activities in English Language LessonsDramatic activities include a wide range of activities that givestudents the opportunity to use real-life language in the classroom.They include the following: mime, role-play, simulation andimprovisation.A Scripted PlayA scripted play could be use for English language teaching, but theteacher should ensure that the language of the play is within theability of the students and relevant to their needs. The theme of theplay should be interesting and humorous. The language of the playshould be communicative. The scenes should be short and thecharacters should not be too many. Davies (1990), suggested that towork on a play, it should be done in stages as indicated in thefollowing guidelines proposed by Byrne (1986: 124-25)

6Step 1: The students should familiarize themselves with the text byreading it through on their own.Step 2: They should listen to a recording of it.Step 3: The teacher should discuss the text with the class beforeassigning roles.Step 4: The teacher should play the recording the second time,pausing intermittently to draw their attention to particularutterances, attitudes, or emotions.Step 5: The teacher should divide the class into groups and ask themto discuss the setting and the characters.Step 6: In a later lesson the teacher should ask the students tochoose their roles, and rehearse the play.Step 7: The play should be performed.Step 8: They should discuss the outcome of the performance. Thediscussion will help them to assess the performance, soas to know the aspects that need improvement.MimeIt is a type of physical activity in which somebody acts out an ideaor a story through gestures, bodily movement, and facialexpressions without the use of words. Through action, the personcommunicates his/her ideas to his/her audience. Dougill (1987),defined mime as a non-verbal representation of an idea or story,through gestures bodily movement, and facial expression. Theaspect of communication emphasized through miming is non-verbalcommunication.Many linguists support the use of mime in language teaching. Forexample, Savignon (1983) stated that it mime helps learners to getused to the idea of acting. Other uses of mime in language learningare outline below:15.It can generate language use where explanation is required.16.It is a way of reinforcing memory and recalling languageitems, by means of visual association17.It can be used to learn and practice vocabulary items.The example below illustrates how mime can be used to teach andpractice vocabulary.6

The Crab: Journal of Theatre and Media Arts (Number 7/June 2012, 151159)Step 1: The teacher writes a list of words on the chalkboard orwhiteboard.Step 2: The teacher mimes the action associated with a word on thechalkboard and asked the students to identify the word, outof the list of words on the chalkboard.Step 3: The teacher calls out some of the students to mime their ownwords while others guess the correct words from the list.This activity continues until the list of words is exhausted.Role-playA role-play could be described as an activity in which students arerequired to play imaginary role in an imaginary situation. Theparticipants in a role-play are assigned certain roles which they actout in a given context. The context may be a situation in the school,family setting, scenes in the market or restaurant, etc. All thesesettings provide avenues for students to engage in social interactionand discussion. A role-play involves an imaginary activity andrequires somebody to take on a role that is imaginary. It alsoinvolves spontaneous interaction of the participants. Teachers canobtain ideas for roles-play from the students’ experiences, books,stories, television programme, films, and daily interactions withpeople.The main benefit of role-play in language teaching is that: It enablesa teacher to teach language use that would be difficult to teachordinary. It also helps to recreate the kind of language that is used indifferent natural contexts, especially language use in situationsoutside the classroomByrne (1986) as cited by Davies (1990) explained that teachers canguide the students in carry out role-plays in the following ways:18. By providing open ended dialogues.19. By giving them mapped dialogues.20. By providing functional cues.21. By giving them role instructions.22. By providing scenarios.According to Self (1975) a good role-play exercise should have thecharacteristics outlined below:23.Is should have a clear purpose.

824. should be relevant to the needs of the students.It should use a context which is real to the students.It should include only those students who can activelyparticipate.It should be conducted in a conducive physical atmosphere.It should be given enough time.It should be non-authoritarian in organization and practice.ImprovisationImprovisation can be described as a play without a script. Landy(1982) defined it as an unscripted, unrehearsed, spontaneous set ofactions in response to minimal directions from a teacher, usuallyincluding statements of whom one is, where one is and what one isdoing. An improvisation involves a spontaneous response and theenactment of an unexpected situation.Davies (1990) identifies two types of improvisation: thespontaneous improvisation and the prepared improvisation. Heexplained that spontaneous improvisation is an open-ended processinitiated by the teacher. The teacher presents students with asituation and challenges them to respond to it. The teacher does notgive them direction on what to do. On the other hand, In preparedimprovisation, the teacher and the students choose the theme, thesituation. They select the relevant ideas and organize them. Theclass is then divided into small groups for the purpose of practicingthe segments of the improvisation, after which the presentation iscarried out.Improvisation is a useful technique in English languageteaching and learning. It prepares the students to respond toimpromptu situations in real-life settings. It provides students withopportunities to improve their language skills and build up theirconfidence. Spontaneous improvisation gives learners practice inlanguage skills and helps them develop their emotional range byplaying roles they are not familiar with. Prepared improvisationgives students practice in working together, sharing ideas andmaking decision, (Davies, 1990). The examples below areimprovisations.30.You are a football team and you are about to practice in thefootball field. Decide in which position you will be playingand how you will be playing.8

The Crab: Journal of Theatre and Media Arts (Number 7/June 2012, 151159)31.You are a group of students having a meeting with yourprincipal, concerning the poor sanitary conditions in yourschool. Decide the points you will raise and how you willexpress yourself.SimulationsJones (1982), defined a simulation as “a reality of functions in asimulated and structured environment”. Simulation activity providesa specific situation within which students can practice specificcommunication skills. For example, the situation may be a parentsteachers meeting and the communicative skills may be expressingan opinion, complaining about something, arguing , convincingothers, asserting oneself, eliciting opinions, group- problem solving,analyzing situations so.There are two types of simulation activities. The first has to dowith dialogues for socializing, such as greeting, introducing people,expressing compliments, parting, proposing a toast, meeting newpeople, etc. Through simulation dialogues, students can learn howto exchange pleasantries in specific social situations. For example,students can practice how to accept an invitation to a wedding orhow to reject an invitation. The second type of simulation activity isa community oriented task. Here, the students learn how toparticipate in the community and execute specific tasks. Foeexample, going to the market, buying things from a supermarket,buying a ticket at the railway station, posting a letter at the postoffice, and collecting money from the bank.The role of simulation in English language is to help the students topractice specific roles, as in the situations mentioned above, so thatwhen such situations occur in real-life, they will be able to functioneffectively.ConclusionDrama is a useful teaching strategy which promotes communicationskills, problem-solving skills, multisensory learning, selfconfidence, social skills, etc. Drama quickens the interest,imagination and creativity of students. It gives students theopportunity to use their natural abilities, as well as their wholepersonality. It gives students practice in the use of supra-segmental

10and prosodic features of language. It creates empathy in studentsand makes them become more sympathetic and appreciative of otherpeople’s problems. Drama is therefore an indispensible tool inlanguage teaching. Teachers should capitalize on the opportunitiesand resources that are available through drama and use it more oftenin the English language classroom.REFERENCESBrumfit, C. (1991). The communicative approach to languageTeaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Byrne, D. (1986). Teaching oral English. New Edition London:Longman.Desialova, L. (2009). Using different forms of drama inEFL.Classroom. Humanizing Language TeachingMagazine,issue 4 Retrieved on 17/7/2010 from p:’, J. (1987). Drama activities for language learners.EssentialLanguage Teaching Series.Holden, S. (1982.)Drama in language teaching. London. LongmanHubbard, Peter, et al. (1986) A Training Course for TEFL. OxfordUniversity Press.Jones, K., (1982). Simulations in language teaching. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.Landy, R. S., (1982) Handbook of educational drama and theater.London: Greenwood press.Maley, A. and Duff, A. (2001) Drama techniques in languagelearning: a resource book for communication activities forlanguage teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.Savingnon, S., (1983) Communicative competence. London:Addison-Wesley.10

Teaching Chioma O.C. Chukueggu Abstract The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of drama and dramatic activities in English language teaching and learning. The paper highlights the benefits that students will derive if they are exposed to the learning of English languag