Adapting Drama to the Language Classroom

West Tokyo Chapter

Date and Time: 
Saturday, 22 April 2017 - 1:00pm - 5:40pm
Eucharia Donnery (Shonan Institute of Technology)
Yoko Morimoto (Meiji University)
Gordon Rees (Yokkaichi University)

JALT's West Tokyo Chapter and the Speech, Drama, & Debate SIG are pleased to host presentations by three members of the SD & D SIG. This is a great opportunity for all ELT professionals who seek to expand their knowledge and gain useful insights into classroom teaching. All are welcome!

13:00 ► Doors Open

13.30-13.35 ► Opening Remarks

13:35-14:25 ► Drama Ideas for the Classroom– Eucharia Donnery (Shonan Institute of Technology)

Many teachers in Japan describe their students as apathetic and unmotivated to learn. Therefore, in our roles as educators, how can we best engage and motivate our students, as well as supporting them in their linguistic journeys? In this presentation, commonalities across various teaching environments are considered and how the use drama-based activities in the EFL classroom can meet with learner needs. The participants are encouraged to reflect upon their own teaching practices and the presentation ends with short, medium and long term drama activities that can be adapted into various educational environments.

14:25-15:00 ► From Drama Skeptic to Drama Believer: Adapting Drama to the Classroom to Motivate and Deepen Understanding – Gordon Rees (Yokkaichi University)

Because drama is fun many teachers consider it not to be a serious method for learning. Some educators feel they will appear unprofessional if they focus their lesson on "playing" instead of serious study (Royka 2002). The presenter had this same kind of skepticism about teaching drama several years ago when he was asked to take over an EFL drama course for a faculty member who had quit abruptly. In the first part of this presentation, the presenter will talk about the positive results he has had teaching drama and integrating drama into other small-sized EFL courses since that time. He will discuss his initial research and a literature review on the benefits and motivational effects of using drama in EFL. He will explain how through this experience he went from being a "drama skeptic" to a "drama believer."

The presenter obtained good motivational results using drama in small-sized classes. To determine if the same benefits could carry-over to larger classes, a drama project on the theme of "slow food" was implemented in four first-year English communication classes. In the second part of this presentation, the activities and methodology utilized in the project will be introduced and the presenter will demonstrate how the project was used to deepen student understanding. Project results will be discussed and conclusions will be made that suggest drama is not only fun, but is a "serious" method for learning and can be adapted to larger EFL classes.

Royka, Judith Gray (2002): Overcoming the Fear of Using Drama in Language

15:00-15:10 ► Break

15:10-15:55 ► Drama Activities– Eucharia Donnery (Shonan Institute of Technology)

When it comes to shyness, Japan is the world leader at 57% (Craigshead & Nemeroff). How can we encourage and help students who are socially withdrawn and quiet to become active learners? This workshop starts with drama-based activities that are non-verbal before moving into vocal exercises and culminates with holistic drama games.

Craighead, W. Edward, and Charles B. Nemeroff, eds. The Corsini Encyclopaedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science Third Edition. 4. 1522–1523. New York: Wiley, 2001. Print.

15:55-16:45 ► Drama & Movements: Applying Neuroscience To Language Classrooms – Yoko Morimoto (Meiji University)

Using the drama-based activities that the speaker has experienced recently in a French drama school in Paris, she will have the participants experience many of them while connecting each activity to key principles offered in neuroscience and psychology. Activities such as warm-ups, voice and articulation exercises, short skits, games, and improvisations will be demonstrated. Special focus will be placed on the benefits of using movements and emotions, not only for learning, but also for general physical and mental well-being and how to convince their students why drama-based activities would enhance their language learning.

16:45-16:55 ► Break

16:55-17:25 ► Integrating Reader's Theater and Short Skits into Presentation Skills and Communication Courses – Gordon Rees (Yokkaichi University)

English is the primary language for international communication and having the ability to make an effective presentation in English is becoming more and more essential in the modern global economy. Many Japanese universities now require students to take English courses that emphasize presentation skills. Japanese students are typically shy and inhibited from speaking out and showing much emotion in front of others. The ability to do so, however, is considered vital for making engaging, western-style presentations. How can EFL instructors help Japanese students to try and speak English more energetically and make dynamic presentations? Creative methods that give students adequate time to develop the confidence to learn to do so in a non-threatening, collaborative environment need to be utilized.

This presentation will show how the introduction of drama activities can help build an inclusive classroom community that enables students to work together to speak English more confidently and use body language more emphatically. Classroom video will be utilized to demonstrate how short skits and Reader's Theater can be integrated into presentation skills and communication courses so that students can acquire the skills and confidence needed to try and speak English with more energy.

17:25-17:40 ► Closing remarks

Eucharia Donnery currently works as a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and sociology lecturer in the Department of Applied Computer Sciences, Shonan Institute of Technology, Kanagawa. She completed her doctoral studies at University College Cork, Ireland in June 2013. This research was focused on how the use of process drama projects could help students move from studying for English to learning through English and simultaneously develop intercultural communicative competence. She applies drama-based and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) pedagogy to help learners improve their foreign language skills, as well as to understand theories of SLA.

Yoko Morimoto is an Associate Professor at Meiji University- School of Political Science and Economics

Gordon Rees is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Policy Management at Yokkaichi University. He also works as an adjunct at the Nagoya University of Foreign Studies. Gordon has been teaching English at the university level in Japan for 16 years. His research interests include drama in EFL, teaching culture, and technology in learning. Gordon is the Program Chair for the JALT Speech, Drama, and Debate SIG.

Tokyo Keizai University, Kokubunji, Tokyo - Room F415
Fee for JALT members: 
Fee for one-day members: 
1,000 yen
Contact or Queries: 
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