Most language teachers use some sort of drama in their lessons, whether it is a simple role-play, or changing their voice when reading different characters, or delivering a lesson to camera-off students online, which is the pandemic equivalent of a soliloquy! There is something about drama that makes this combination of performance, movement, and storytelling engaging and interactive. This fascinating form of communication has long survived and evolved alongside our species. Didn’t our ancestors dramatize their daily events, gathering round the bonfire, when their language was not complex enough to help them articulate their thoughts and feelings? Wasn’t drama the origin or at the core of dance and rituals?
In this issue’s main video, David Farmer explains how using drama in the classroom can “enhance language learning and boost students’ confidence, creativity, and spontaneity”. He believes that drama’s innate features of being active and interactive, being multisensory, and being natural can foster emotional involvement and promote teamwork. He also highlights that drama is compatible with different learning modes.
There are five short drama games introduced by Farmer that enable interaction, communication, creativity, and learning. They can be used in all levels with the whole class, groups, or pairs. Here are the games:
- Clap Across the Circle
- Ten Second Objects
- What Are You Doing?
Farmer shows how drama games involve movement and help learners interact physically and verbally. The former mode of interaction is fundamental to understanding the concept discussed in our lite video by THUNK: “Embodied Cognition”.
Influence by the idea introduced in Metaphors We Live By written by Lakoff and Johnson that many common metaphors have a sort of universal physical sensation (like associating happiness with up and sadness with down), Embodied Cognition is also rooted in research findings coming from psychology. Moods and thoughts can be made by artificially replicating their usual physical manifestations. For example, standing in a typical heroic posture can lower cortisol levels (less stress), raise testosterone levels (more self-assurance), and make one more comfortable taking larger risks.
In short, Embodied Cognition is questioning the assumption that mind equals brain and it is trying to theorize that the structure and operation of human cognition are deeply tied to and dependent on the subjective experience of being in a human body. In other words, physical experiences and instantiations of the thinker are central building blocks for its thought.
What could be better than drama to facilitate this physical experience in a classroom?
Mohammad Khari is an English lecturer at Ozyegin University, Istanbul. He holds a BA in English Literature, an MA in Philosophy of Art, and a CELTA. Mohammad has been reading and researching on the integration of neuroscience into pedagogy, sharing his ideas through a series of professional development sessions.