Gary Carkin's ESL/EFL Drama Log

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Drama and Language
Detail from An Allegory with Venus and Cupid * Bronzino

You have arrived at Gary Carkin's ESL/EFL DRAMA LOG and BLOG. Gary is Professor of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at the Institute for Language Education, Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. He is also an actor and writer. His interests come together in the use of drama in English language teaching.
Recently, he has embarked on a sabbatical project the purpose of which is "to seek out English through drama practitioners around the world and find out what they are doing, how they are doing it, and with whom...I want to see their approaches in action, document what they do by writing about them, taking photos, and posting the photos with documentation to this blog. Finally, I wish to publish an account of the English through drama practitioners, their techniques, and their projects on my ESL/EFL Drama website. Later, perhaps, the account can go to hard copy in form of a book."
Please join me on my quest. Comment and add techniques and ideas as we go. We can share as we blog and learn as we log. Be sure to let us know who and where you are and send in photos if you wish.

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My first investigation took me to the International Conference on Use of Drama in English Language Teaching held in Nitra, Slovakia November 13-16, 2003. This conference was sponsored by the British Council and hosted by Daniela Bacova of the University of Constantine, the Philosopher.
More recently, I spent time with Anita Debska, who teaches at the Torun Teacher Training College in Torun, Poland and Joanna Ciechanowska, who teaches Drama and Methodology there. They use drama as a core course in the first year teacher training program. In addition, Izabela Dabrowska, who also teaches at the TTC, explained how she uses role plays in her American and British Studies courses and conversation classes.
The London Language and Drama School was observed on my last visit to London. There, Zane Stanley and Lucinda Cowden take students through their paces in voice, speech, and English through Scene Study under the leadership of Sarah Mann who is the school's director.
The following log will go into detail about what's happening at the places mentioned above and at other schools and universities world wide.
The International Conference on the Use of Drama in English Language Teaching was held from 13th --16th November, 2003 at the Agroinstitute in Nitra, Slovak Republic.
The opening workshop commenced Thursday evening led by Gavin Bruce, Daniela Bacova, Kiara Sandorova, and Konrad Toft of the British Council. Many enlivening warm up exercises were demonstrated and shared by Gavin Bruce. There were forty-five participants, all teachers of English as a second or foreign language. They came from schools and universities within the Slovak Republic as well as from Macedonia, Taiwan, Romania, Hungary, Poland, and the UK.
All day Friday, participants offered forty-five minute workshops to two groups twice. Topics included:
Drama and Developing Reading and Pronunciation (Damiela Bacova)
Drama and ELT in Macedonia (Tim Philips)
Using Drama for Pronunciation: from practice to performance (Gary Carkin)
New Expressions in Drama and Creative Writing (Vanda Balasiu)
Drama based pedagogy for multi-ability young learners in the primary classroom (Yung-Ching Chen)
Drawing drama out of the textbook (Conrad Toft)
Drama days and how to organize them (Kiara Sandorova, Gabi Simonova)
Improvisation and drama games (Gavin Bruce)
After dinner, participants began work on the drama day lesson preparation.
Drama Day is a yearly event that involves grammar school through high school aged students in drama activities. After warm ups in the morning, students divided into groups to prepare, through improvisations, plays to be presented to the whole group in the afternoon. On the Friday evenning, teachers formed six different groups to focus on six different levels of drama activities for the day.
On Saturday, the whole group of teachers gathered at the Parovce Grammar School and met in the auditorium/gymnasium with the youngsters from local schools. The grades ranged from sixth to twelfth. The entire group, students and teachers together, were led in warm ups by Gavin Bruce. Then the six groups separated and went to different rooms to work on their plays. Rehearsals were intense, as the groups had only two hours to prepare, rehearse, and polish their performances before showing them to the entire audience. It was an extremely active and creative time.
After lunch, the students and teachers reappeared in the gymnasium/auditorium for their performances. Each group showed great physicality, good picturization, and command of the English language -- in action!
The students demonstrated even greater maturity in their ability to pull interesting performances together so rapidly. This was a great confidence-building event and very entertaining, too.
Saturday evening was spent reflecting upon the conference and building plans for 2004. Finally, the participants had a tour of the city and dinner at a wonderful old Nitra restaurant in the heart of town.
On Sunday, participants were driven to the airport by car and driver of the British Council. It was a most inspiring conference indeed and showed the many ways that drama can be used in the ESL/EFL classroom. Whether it is used for reading, for writing extension, for pronunciation practice, or simply for bonding and group communication/expression, the conference showed how drama is a vital component of language training and should be incorporated as much as possible within the framework of any English language classroom.
The Drama Day experience was special to me. It was a wonderful occasion where students and teachers joined together all focused on the job of getting a performance together in a very short time. Although students were unfamiliar with the teachers and vice-versa, they were forced to communicate rapidly and work together quickly and creatively to produce the expected performance. It all seemed a marvelous exercise -- and very democratic!

Students in Action
Nitra, Slovakia

Conference Leaders Daniela Bacova and Gavin Bruce
Conference on Drama in English Language Teaching

Story Telling

Poetry in Action


Story Telling

Gary Carkin, Ph.D.
Institute for Language Education, Southern New Hampshire University

Teachers Preparing Lesson Plans
Vanda Balasiu from Romania and Group

Joanna Zaranska from Poland and Group
Lesson Planning

Joanna Coaching Students
The Text is About Going to the Doctor

Teaching through Verse and Action

Drama Day!!!
Everyone Warms Up!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone goes through a series of warm up exercises before going to rehearsals. All sorts of walks are done: long steps, short steps, slanted walks, crooked walks, leading with the hip walks,

Slanted Walking

And, the show begins

Eight short stories or original plays are performed for the delighted audience. The action is dramatic and the English flows effortlessly!

Please click here for the website associated with the Nitra conference containing links to other English through drama sites in Europe.

Please click on the link below to travel on to England and Poland.

Poland: The Torun Teacher Training College