The paper is devoted to drama activities as successful in making language learners experience in operation and providing motivation to use language embedded in a context and a situation.
Key words: communicative competence, drama activities.
Nowadays teaching and learning English as a foreign language approaches to the formation of communicative competence of future engineers and its role in engineering education has been changing according to modern requirements. After trying to optimize that, edutainment technique usage with drama activities in target language can be considered as an alternative to traditional English Foreign Language (EFL) teaching and learning in rapidly developing modern engineering education. The goal of edutainment is not only to educate, but to stimulate as well. Engineering students can learn from edutainment if the activities are carefully selected to entertain as well as educate.
Drama is a powerful tool that can engage students actively with the EFL learning process. Using drama techniques also fosters their integrated linguistic competence by setting meaningful contexts .
Drama activities are equally successful in making learners experience language in operation and provide motivation to use language embedded in a context and a situation.
Drama technique involves students in their own learning, may help them to develop enquiry skills, to encourage negotiation, understanding and creativity. They can enhance performance skills such as character development and storytelling and be used across the curriculum actively .
Researchers find that some EFL teachers have difficulty controlling the class and some students complain that drama activities only bring them fun instead of knowledge. As a result, teaching techniques are critical for using drama.
So teachers should be aware of the appropriate methods and techniques for using drama. It is the responsibility of the teacher to guide the language learning process effectively. The benefits of drama in language teaching can be follows:
a) the acquisition of meaningful, fluent interaction in the target language;
b) the assimilation of a whole range of pronunciation and prosodic features;
c) the fully contextualized acquisition of new vocabulary and structure;
d) an improved sense of confidence in the student in his or her ability to learn the target language .
Drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning. Ideally, the teacher would take a less dominant role in the language class and let the students explore the language activities. In the student centered classroom every student is a potential teacher for the group.
Based on the above the authors were convinced that the drama approach enables learners to use what they are learning with pragmatic intent, something that is most difficult to learn through explanation. By using drama techniques to teach English, the tradition of a conventional English class can be broken and the syllabus can be transformed into one which prepares learners to face their immediate world better as competent users of the English language.
The authors finally upon thorough research and consultations decided the ideal story to stage should be one of Aesop's Fables. «The Ant and the Grasshopper» is a fable attributed to Aesop, providing a moral lesson about hard work and preparation.
The main idea of “Ant and the Grasshopper” staged by the second year students of the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing was to improve and extend their EFL practice. The mission of drama activity was to present visual and performing arts that are affordable and accessible to students-actors and students-viewers.
There are so many things that have to be taken into consideration before steps into putting up a play. The authors knew that they would come across with lack of time, lack of space, skepticism of colleagues. They also had to take into consideration the number of organizational problems.
However having found the script that the authors believed would serve the purpose of their project they proceeded immediately into action.
Choral Speaking Version by Lois Walker was chosen to dramatization as a base :
THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANT
This choral speaking version of “Ant and the Grasshopper” includes a variety of speaker experiences. As in most choral speaking, chorus speakers speak in unison together.
In addition, it is very important that students have expanded Lois Walker' version added characters, scenes, illustrated songs, music, dances.
The authors gave roles to students based on their willingness, enthusiasm and ability for the course. Actually before assigning roles they read out the story to them as many times as possible and tried as much as they can to give them a picture of the whole plot. They took their time to explain every detail of it. This aroused more interest and enthusiasm in the students. This means they didn’t give so much attention to casting. They were more concerned with students’ willingness. They also realized that the number of students they were dealing with wasn’t enough for all the roles in the script, so they had to rely on students from other groups. Surprisingly there were more willing students for this kind of project but they had to shortlist them.
After assigning roles the responsibility lied on the authors to get students ready. Students were supposed to first understand deeply their respective roles. Secondly they had to guide them on the word pronunciation.
Then the students started to rehearse. It was very important that students understand that they would improve the level their English language skills. After a while students were able to get words pronunciation right. Then they decided to work on intonation until they achieved what they perceived was right.
The authors had some problem with the rehearsals since their classrooms were not big enough for acting some of the scenes. But they had to manage it. They also encountered the problem of students not being able to accurately connect speeches with acting. Some students were a bit shy and others couldn’t act their roles well.
The acting should be done in such a way that the speech is clear and appreciable to the audience. It was also very important for them to make sure that each speech was done with the right emotion.
To a large extent the authors believed they had achieved their aim. Even before the students put up the show they could feel their confidence in speaking English, their ability for self expression in English language.
Consequently teaching drama techniques may become an interesting and effective tool in forming EFL and cross-cultural competence of future engineers at Tomsk Polytechnic University which is of current importance up to questions of effective teaching methods selection.
1. Yue Hu (Vicky) Using drama for ESL teaching // A Seminar Paper Research, 2011. Available at: http://www.finchpark.com/drama/articles/Hu.pdf/
2. Wessels, Charlyn (1987). Drama. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
3. Walker L. Choral Speaking Version of “Ant and the Grasshopper”. [Электронный ресурс]. Available at: http://jeanporter.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/file/view/The+Grasshopper+and+the+Ants...hellofirstgrade.pdf/253869558/The+Grasshopper+and+the+Ants...hellofirstgrade.pdf