TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE SKILLS THROUGH DRAMA ACTIVITIES AND TECHNIQUES: A CASE STUDY OF SOME SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN IKERE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EKITI STATE
Background to the study
According to (Benjamin Franklin, 2014) who says, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Students’ involvement in the learning process has become the main aim of modern approaches that focus on student-centered class rather than teacher-centered class. Clever involvement that demands a student to use creative English language skills is the kind of involvement that helps student to learn effectively. Many methods have been used to assess students’ effective involvement.
There are many reasons in favour of using drama activities and techniques in the language classroom. First, it is entertaining and fun, and can provide motivation to learn. It can provide varied opportunities for different uses of language and because it engages feelings that can provide rich experience of language for the participants.
Maley (2005), listed many points to supporting the use of drama. The points include:
- It integrates language skills in a natural way. Careful listening is a key feature. Spontaneous verbal expression is integral to most of the activities; and many of them require reading and writing, both as part of the input and the output.
- It integrates verbal and non verbal aspects of communication, thus bringing together both mind and body, and restoring the balance between physical and intellectual aspects of learning.
- It draws upon both cognitive and affective domains, thus restoring the importance of feeling as well as thinking.
- By fully contextualizing the language, it brings the classroom interaction to life through an intensive focus on meaning.
- The emphasis on whole-person learning and multi-sensory inputs helps learners to capitalize on their strength and to extend their range. In doing so, it offers unequalled opportunities for catering to learner differences.
- It fosters self-awareness (and awareness of others), self-esteem and confidence; and through this, motivation is developed.
Emphasizing this Gasparro and Falletta (2014) point out “The use of poetry as drama in the English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom enables students to explore the linguistic and conceptual aspects of the written text without concentrating on the mechanics of language. Students are able to develop a sense of awareness of self in the target culture through dramatic interpretations of the poems. Teachers using this technique need to consider poetry that matches their students’ language skills, ages, and interests.”
Even (2008) adds that through drama, “Students enter imaginary worlds that they cooperatively construct, experience, furnish, arrange, and change. Thus, drama situations can liberate and at the same time deeply stimulate and challenge learners’ take on communicative situations, grammar, and literary texts”
Özdemir andÇakmak (2008) points out “a number of studies of the effects of drama on individuals’ cognitive and affective characteristics have been carried out recently. These studies revealed that drama had positive impact on students’ development of communication skills, socialization levels, development of emotional intelligence, social skills, empathic skills and empathic tendencies regardless of the grade levels of the students”.
Dramatic activities according to Maley and Duff (2009) “Are activities which give the students an opportunity to use his own personality in creating the material in which part of the language class is to be based”.
Drama activities can provide students with an opportunity to use language to express various emotions, to solve problems, to make decisions, to socialize. Drama activities are also useful in the development of oral communication skills, and reading and writing as well.
There are different ways in which drama can be defined. In one of the definition Susan Holden (2012) takes drama to mean” any kind of activity where learners are asked either to portray themselves or to portray someone else in an imaginary situation”. In other words, drama is concerned with the world of “let’s pretend” ; it asks the learner to project himself imaginatively into another situation, outside the classroom, or into the skin and persona of another person”.
Kao, etal. (2011) also stresses, “In drama-oriented English as foreign language (EFL) classrooms, teachers often ask questions to shape the story, unveil the details, sequence the scenes, create a beneficial linguistic environment to elicit student output and promote meaning negotiation in the target language.” Therefore, “for more than 30 years drama has been promoted as a valuable teaching tool for language learning. Recent research results have reinforced this position” (Dunn& Stinson, 2011).
Culham (2013) observes benefits from using simple drama activities with students and in teacher-in-service workshops as follows:
- Students are able to express themselves in ways other than through words.
- Drama activities offer community-building opportunities in a classroom where there are students of varying levels of language proficiency
- Teachers are also able to use non-verbal cues to demonstrate caring and concern for students in a way that more formal language instruction does not allow, bound as it is by the physical constraints and the pressure to understand.
- Non-verbal drama activities provide an excellent means of releasing the stress of language learning.
- Students, often hesitant to speak out, can become confident when the language expectation is removed entirely.
- “Total Physical Response is enhanced through drama activities.
- In all drama work, power dynamics shift as the teacher becomes a participant alongside the students.
- Non-verbal drama activities transfer directly to verbal ones, and subsequent verbal interchanges are triggered by these non-verbal activities.
On the other hand, Burke and O’Sullivan (2012) identifies seven reasons to incorporate drama in the second language classroom:
- Teachers and students can concentrate on pronunciation.
- Students are motivated.
- Students are relaxed.
- Students use language for real purposes.
- Risk-taking equals heightened language retention
- Community is created.
- Students and teachers can approach sensitive topics
Statement of the Problem
Recently, focus on English language skills has become the aim of many educational systems. Some countries teach English as an isolated subject. Teaching English has become very essential in modern education either being taught as an isolated subject or embedded in curriculum. Since we are in creativity age and language learning is a precious opportunity to develop creative thinking as language learning class is full of different life like situations and full of characters and dialogue, teaching English language using drama can be effective in developing students’ creative thinking. Thus, the present study will investigate the effectiveness of teaching English language skill using drama activities and techniques. The problem of the study can be stated in the main question: what is the effectiveness of teaching English language using drama on the development of intermediate students’ creative thinking. The problem of the study can be stated in the main question : What is the effectiveness of teaching English Language using Drama activities and techniques on the development of intermediate students’ creative thinking of students in some selected secondary schools in Ikere-Ekiti Local Government of Ekiti State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to examine the teaching of English language skills through drama activities and techniques in selected secondary schools in Ikere local government area of Ekiti state.
The objective of the study was to:
- investigate whether teachers are using drama activities and techniques as a methodology to teach English in secondary schools in Ikere local government area of Ekiti state.
- examine the perception of English teachers about the use of drama techniques in selected secondary schools in the study area.
- find out the reasons for not adopting drama as an English teaching technique in the study area.
The present research seeks to answer the following main question:
- Do teachers use drama activities and techniques as a methodology to teach English in secondary schools in Ikere local government area of Ekiti state?
- What is the perception of English teachers about the use of drama techniques in selected secondary schools in the study area?
- What are the reasons for not adopting drama as an English teaching technique in the study area?
The following hypotheses were formulated for the study and will be tested at 0.05 level of significance:
- There is no significance difference in the teachers who use drama activities and techniques as a methodology to teach English in secondary schools in Ikere local government area of Ekiti state and those who do not.
- There is no significance difference on how English teachers perceive the use of drama techniques in selected secondary schools in the study area.
- There is no significance difference in the reasons why English teachers do not adopt drama as an English teaching technique in the study area?
Significance of the Study
The importance of the present study centered on the fact that it:
- draws the attention toward the effectiveness of using drama in developing students’ creative thinking.
- may provide teachers with applicable teaching situations using drama.
- may provide results which may be applicable in other subjects
Delimitations of the Study
The present study is delimited to:
- Academic delimitations: Investigating the effectiveness of teaching unit 10 (the body) using drama on first year intermediate female students’ creative thinking. The unit comprises 4 lessons.
- Place: 2 first year intermediate female students’ classes of the 33 school in Ikere.
- Time: second term of the academic year 2014 – the unit has been taught over 2 weeks – 4 periods per a week. 45 minutes to each period (total 8 periods = 6hours = 360 minutes).
Definition of Terms
Drama: Holden (2011) defined drama as any activity which asks the student to portray self or another person in an imaginary situation. In Ntelioglou (2006) “drama can be defined as Teaming by doing’. For Shand (2008) “educational drama and Second Language Instruction educational drama refers to using creative drama techniques to teach other subjects. These techniques include, but are not limited to pantomime, storytelling, story dramatization, role-playing, improvisation, theatre games, process drama, and play production.” For the purpose of the present study, drama refers to the dramatic scenes prepared by the researcher and applied in the classroom. Each scene has a location, characters and dramatic activities that done in pairs and groups. Role-play, dialogue, simulation, games, plays, mantle expert and other activities were included.
Creative thinking: Taylor (2008) states ” Creativity/Creative Thinking will be operationally defined Standard Composite Scores: Fluency, Originality, Elaboration, Abstractness of Titles, and Resistance to Premature Closure, along with 13 criterion-referenced measures of creative strengths: Emotional Expressiveness, Storytelling Articulateness, Movement/Action, Expressiveness of Titles, Synthesis of Incomplete Figures, Synthesis of Incomplete Lines, Unusual Visualization, Internal Visualization, Extending/Breaking Boundaries, Humor, Richness of Imagery, Colorfulness of Imagery, and Fantasy. Torrance (2009), a pioneer in creativity research, further defined creativity as sensing problems, searching for possible solutions, drawing hypotheses, testing, evaluating, and communicating results to others. Moreover, Torrance described the creative process as including original ideas, different points of view, breaking out of the mold, recombining ideas, and seeing new relationships among components as different ways creativity can be assessed. In the present study, creative thinking refers to students’ scores in Torrance test for creative thinking related to the three main skills of fluency, creativity and originality.