Using Drama as a Language Learning Tool by Veni Sukumar

One of the most interesting activities that an English teacher can become involved with and offer her students is 'dramatics', because the language teacher often has the natural inclination for the theatre, given her line of teaching.

So if the teacher is prepared to devote her free time and extra effort to this task, she can run a dramatics club in her school thereby providing a large amount of extra English for the students. The rest of the school can first be the target audience and get an exposure to the language. After the students attain more confidence, the audience could comprise parents or outsiders and the children can display their proficiency in the language through the play. How does one start this club?

It is imperative to note that running this club takes a great amount of time. So a teacher should be mentally prepared and willing to forego her leisure hours and maintain the same enthusiasm throughout, as this will be a voluntary exercise sans any monetary benefit. The initiative should come from the teacher herself. She should call those students, who, she feels, are histrionically talented and talk to them about it. She also should warn them that, though it is a fun activity, there will be a long period of very hard work. Initially everyone will want to join, but most will drop out once they see that dramatics has a lot of hard work. So finally the teacher will have only those who are genuinely interested.

Staging a play

The elite or International schools usually possess their own auditorium, but there are a large number of schools without this luxury. But that need not deter the teacher from starting the club. The play can be staged in the portico or the playground with the audience sitting in a circle and the actors in the centre of the circle. Since drama tingles the imaginative buds of the audience, the audience can visualise the settings of the play in their mind's eye.

Choosing a play

The teacher plays a very important part in this respect. A common mistake done by the clubs is the staging of Shakespearean plays in his language which is now obsolete. This might bore the actors and the audience alike. 

Nothing kills such an exciting venture quicker than drowning it in ghastly attempts at classical theater. Everyone involved will be interested in something modern which will be easy to understand and easy to relate to. 
Therefore one should choose the play based on entertainment value. This alone will make the club a successful venture.

Language learning through a play

The amount of English learnt will be enormous no matter what play one chooses. The language of conversation will be English, the instruction will be in English, the lines will be in English, the play itself will be in English. 

Everyone involved - either on stage or back stage - will be instructed in English. This will result in the many hours of extra exposure to the language. The student will learn many new words like 'stage manager', 'wings', back drop', 'props', 'cue' etc. Thus a new fascinating field will be opened for the student to love the language.

This dramatics club need not be just to learn English. This can be the tool for teaching any language. All that is required is the willingness from both the teacher and the taught.