Why use drama activities?
Using drama and drama activities has clear advantages for language learning. It encourages children to speak and gives them the chance to communicate, even with limited language, using non-verbal communication, such as body movements and facial expressions.
There are also a number of other factors which make drama a very powerful tool in the language classroom.Try thinking about the ways in which reading a dialogue aloud from a textbook is different from acting out that same dialogue.You will find that the list is a long one.This is because drama involves children at many levels, through their bodies, minds, emotions, language, and social interaction. Some of the areas where I feel drama is very useful to language learners and teachers are outlined below.
Different learning styles
Dramatizing appeals to all kinds of learners. We receive and process information in different ways, the main ones are through sight, hearing, and our physical bodies. One of these channels tends to be dominant in each of us. If we receive new information through this channel, it is easier for us to understand and use; if it is presented through a weaker channel, we tend to find the ideas more difficult.
When children dramatize they use all the channels, and each child will draw on the one that suits them best. This means they will all be actively involved in the activity and the language will ‘enter’ through the channel most appropriate for them.
Language in context
In the classroom, we often expose children to small bits of language such as individual words, rather than whole phrases or ‘chunks’. When speaking, children are not often asked to combine the different structures they are learning. Drama is an ideal way to encourage children to guess the meaning of unknown language in a context which often makes meaning clear. Similarly, children will need to use a mixture of language structures and functions if they are to communicate successfully.