any language can and should be a very creative process.
In order to taste the freedom of the language and its
possibilities, we must loosen the technical reigns
sometimes. Finding the natural creativity that lies
hidden within each one of us and learning how to use
it in a variety of ways is becoming an ever-important
tool in our world today.
said “all the world’s a
stage”. Theatre in the classroom has always existed.
Isn’t the teacher after all a great interpreter?
In our present
global moment of speed and information the need to
communicate successfully is of utmost importance.
In our language classrooms then, the focus on speaking
has appeared in the forefront of our activities forcing
we, the teachers to invent a diversity of possible
situations in order to maximise our student’s
talking time. There is a different visual and corporeal
feeling in getting up and performing a drama activity
to one where the student remains seated and reads a
dialogue form his exercise book. If we look at these
two activities from a kinaesthetic point of view we
can see that the former is much more memorable for
the student and therefore more effective.
Using Drama in our classrooms forces us to take life
as our starting point and to become part of a creative
process that is not just a collection of techniques.
Drama activities give students a chance to find a balance
between fluency and accuracy while at the same time
giving them the opportunity to say what they really
want to say rather than something controlled.
This following technique, which was presented at the
8th National Convention, can be adapted to suit any
type of group.
Wimbledon Tennis Tournament
This is an improvisation that can be carried out in
the classroom. The chairs will need to be pushed aside
a little to create a playing area. The improvisation
can include the whole group if desired.
I have found
it very interesting to use on a new group when assessing
the student’s present level of
The teacher will only have to choose the first performer
because after that the students themselves will choose
For example. The teacher chooses a student to be Guga
and then she asks him to call his coach out of the
group. She then asks the coach who Guga will be playing
and so the coach then calls someone else out of the
group who will then become Pete Samprass for example
and so on.
Possible characters could include: Two famous tennis
players and their coaches, an umpire, Lines men, ball
boys crowd and press photographers.
The scene can then be set up by saying that we are
at the final match. Guga is about to win the last game
in a very difficult match. The coaches can be giving
advice to their players from the sidelines, the umpire
can call for silence and the lines men and ball boys
can take up their positions. The players then mine,
in slow motion, the final strokes until Guga hits the
winning ball and wins the championship. The press photographers
can rush onto the court and the teacher can play some
sort of champion music (Senna theme or We are the Champions
After the match, interviews with the players could
be set up or perhaps a re-enactment of the closing
ceremony where the Queen or Prince Charles presents
Guga with the trophy. The Royals could say a few words
to the crowd or the crowd could ask the Royals some
This exercise can be tailor made to suit the size
and level of the group. The improvised vocabulary can
be quite simple while the more advanced students can
invent all sorts of dialogue. The teacher can coax
the students with open-ended questions and guide the
shyer students into dialogue that they will feel comfortable
is the one who intermediates between the players
like a subtle reporter who appears when needed.
I have had a great response using this idea because
the students a) have no time to think before hand and
therefore are more spontaneous b) are totally in character
therefore not themselves and c) are doing something
so different and fun they don’t realise just
how much they are learning. This activity also copes
with peer pressure in that it allows the students to
play within their selected classroom “gangs”.
If desired, this improvisation can be the beginning
of a more polished performance and could easily be
part of a cross curricular activity involving sports.
The scene can be based on something more Brazilian
depending on what the teacher thinks is more appropriate.
Creativity – Making
is, at this point, more important than creation because
if you are not an artist, adept at
activities such as papier-mâché, you can
always find somebody who is, an art teacher for example.
The imagination, the vision of the idea and its results
are what counts.
Instead of your own daily gestures in the classroom
like pointing to the board, to a group of students
or to the ceiling to accentuate stress, what about
a larger than life pointing finger made from paper
wood and glue.
large sheets of white cartolina (I used old architectural
Glue for wood and paper
Poster paints and brushes
A bamboo stick approx 1metre in length.
Scrunch up the paper into a hand shape with one roll
sticking out for the pointing finger
and insert a piece of bamboo into the end like an arm.
Use small strips of torn paper dipped in glue (which
can be watered down slightly) to cover the hand and
finger like papier-mâché. When it is dry
paint it a skin colour adding knuckles and nail details
as desired. You should now have a larger than life
pointing finger to use as a visual aid in your classroom.
Other ideas include:
big ear to use when you want students to speak
up a little bit.
A thinking hat with a light bulb attached to the
top to use for brainstorming.
Card board cut outs from shops and video rentals
as characters or scenery.
Benefits and Harmony
Pleasure, enjoyment and amusement as the dictionary
definition of the word fun states, are not only essential
ingredients in a class but inherent to the human beings
complete balance. In whichever form the theatre takes,
we the teachers cease to be the all knowing of what
is right and wrong, good bad etc.; our job is simply
to set things in motion. We are the assistants to those
breaking out of their shells while at the same time
elaborating the capacity to respond to the needs of
the group through our own sensitivity.
the classroom can bring about a greater understanding
of the self both consciously and unconsciously;
it can really make changes and boost students confidence
in a surprising way. By delving into their world, we
can guide their creative imaginations to a new road
where the result doesn’t come from what the teacher
has necessarily set, but is the learners’ creative
process itself. This method totally embraces the concept
of learner centeredness and inside this autonomy we
may see our unmotivated students suddenly inspired
to new heights.
If we think
back to the past we all have a school memory good
and bad. If we analyse the mechanics of
that memory we may find some simple reason why, after
all these years it has not left us. Perhaps it’s
because the teacher always smiled in our direction
or talked about her home life or perhaps it was the
way she taught Portuguese using Caetano’s lyrics.
What often makes us remember is the fact that something
different happened, something we weren’t expecting
that surprised and thrilled us. I believe that the
use of theatre in the classroom is an unlimited tool
for that purpose when it collaborates in making the
learning process so interesting and rewarding that
it turns into a wonderful never forgotten memory.
Theatre in the language classroom is about releasing
energy and imagination in each individual; if they
are enjoying what they are doing they are learning,
about themselves, about life and naturally, about English