by Angelica Galante and Ron I. Thomson
Learning to speak a new language is challenging, but fluency in the L2 is a goal many people share.
But drama is not all about the entertainment; it can also help language learners develop speaking abilities (Kao and O’Neill, 1998; Stern, 1980; Stinson and Freebody, 2006) and can impact oral fluency and pronunciation in particular (Galante and Thomson, 2016).
I immediately noticed this was very helpful for learners’ oral development, especially among those learners who were somewhat shy or reluctant to speak in class.
Despite teachers’ accounts of the success of drama in their classes, I wondered what particular aspects of oral communication actually improved.
After running several statistical analyses, we found that learners in the drama group experienced significantly greater improvement in their oral speaking skills compared to learners in the traditional communicative language classes.
This result supports the idea that teaching aspects of oral language explicitly can result in larger gains in oral fluency compared to using simple communicative tasks.
Another important finding was that although all the English learners were perceived as having a first language (L1) accent (Brazilian Portuguese), this was not an issue when understanding their speech.
We also provide samples of the classroom activities we used.
Angelica Galante is a doctoral candidate in Language and Literacies Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in…