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!