Integrating Drama with TESOL

 

TEACHER IN ROLE

One of the lesson types explored in our podcast episodes on Drama and TESOL was the idea of ‘teacher in role’ or (TiR). Teacher in role is typical in drama teaching and involves the teacher playing a dramatic part within the lesson; for example if the learners are doing an improvisation about a sports team, the teacher may take the role of coach. Teacher in role is powerful because it allows the learners to move away from their everyday role as a student and immerse themselves in their new fantasy role. For younger primary learners, this is particularly powerful as they still have the ability to suspend disbelief, which means that they really get into character.

For ESOL teachers who may not have done much drama before, the idea of taking on a role and planning a lesson that integrates both language and drama may feel a little daunting and they may not know where to start, especially when it comes to balancing creativity with achieving language aims. One way to experiment with (TiR) is through using contextualised narrative, where your lesson becomes a story.

 

CONTEXTUALISED NARRATIVE

A contextualised narrative uses the basic narrative structure of a story to contextualise language for the learners and give them the opportunity to practice language. In literary terms, a narrative can be divided into approximately four stages:

  1. Exposition: This is where we meet the characters and the scene is set. We may be introduced to a problem that may affect our main characters.
  2. Rising Action: The problem escalates, the tension starts to grow and our main characters need to work on overcoming the problem.
  3. Climax: This is the most dramatic part of the story where all of the tension comes to a head and the main action happens. Our characters may need to actively solve their problem at this stage.
  4. Falling Action and Resolution: The problem is resolved and our characters can go back to being happy. The story concludes.

A typical example might be a story like Cinderella. During the exposition, Cinderella, the wicked stepmother and the ugly sisters are introduced. The rising action starts with the prince's ball and the disappearance of Cinderella, where she leaves behind only a glass slipper. The prince searches for Cinderella and the climax of the story happens when the glass slipper finally fits her foot. At the end of the story of course there is a resolution where everybody lives happily ever after.

 

PLANNING YOUR NEXT LESSON

What have these four narrative stages got to do with lesson planning and staging? And how can we use the narrative structure to actively meet linguistic aims in the classroom? To find out, download our free guide to planning a contextualised narrative lesson here to help you plan your next lesson.

Last but not least, to help you integrate more drama into your day to day lessons, our friends at Black Box Education are offering listeners of the TESOL POP podcast a free Drama Techniques and Conventions Digital Poster Pack. To get your free pack, email info@blackbox.education before 31/08/2018 and mention TESOL POP in your request.