Today was the first time I had a drama lesson. This doesn’t mean that I had a lesson on drama but that my student and I did a sort of theatrical performance of a book.
My student’s name is Yasya. She’s a nine-year-old beginner who’s studied English for about six months.
Recently, we read a book “Colin’s colours” by Carol Read and Ana Soberon.
It’s a funny colourful book that teaches colours and, more importantly, useful phrases to express your sympathy such as “Oh no!”, “Oh dear!” and “Poor …”.
Firstly, I used this book to teach the names of “garden gang” members (caterpillar, bee, snail, butterfly and ladybird) and the names of some natural phenomena (rain, sun and rainbow). We did some vocabulary activities such as a wordsearch, crosswords and matching games. Then we had an extensive reading practice.
Usually, I stop at this point and go on to another book. But this time I felt that what we had done was somewhat insufficient. Quite out of the blue came the idea to make a play out of the book, which I thought would be a crowning final touch to reading the book.
So, this is how I found myself making a stage scenery for our puppet theatre. Here you can see different stages of the process.
Then, I made the puppets on sticks. The tricky thing about the play was that the characters’ emotions change throughout the performance: they are happy, then they are sad, then happy again. That’s why my puppets are two-sided: if you turn them you’ll change the puppets’ facial expression. Here are the smiling and sad sides of our characters.
At the lesson today, Yasya and I elaborated the original book by extending dialogues with greeting phrases and making the dialogues more personalised, i.e. we made each character repeat the same set of phrases while in the book the phrases are pronounced only twice by pairs of characters. This alteration helped my student (who acted out three roles while I did only two) to repeat the functional phrases over and over again until she knew them by heart. This technique proves to be very beneficial! 🙂
The final stage of our rehearsal was the performance itself. We invited Yasya’s mum and sister to attend our show. We arranged the chairs and distributed the tickets. We veiled the stage scenery with a curtain (which was just a piece of papar towel). And then, with the rise of the curtain and me whistling a tune, the performance started.
I was pleased that Yasya managed not only to remember her lines but to act them out very creatively. Both the spectators and the actors enjoyed the performance very much. By the end of the show the actors received almost the standing ovation! 🙂
Needless to say that this was a very positive and motivating experience for both parts – my student and her family and for me as a teacher. I realized what a powerful tool drama can be. It doesn’t only help learn the language but also provides a really strong motivational boost. There’s no any doubt that I’ll be using drama in my classroom in future.
Drama. Strongly recommended! 🙂