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Using drama to increase learning motivation and cater for learner diversity

Background

Students learn best when they have the incentive and motivation for learning.  Whitear (1998) claims that drama “is a refreshing and energising approach to language learning for both students and teachers” (p.36).  Both Chauhan (2004) and Mordecai (1985) concur that drama provides a real context for using the language for communication which stimulates motivation.  Likewise, Stern (1980) believes that drama heightens students’ self-esteem and lowers their rejection in second language learning.  Wan Yee Sam (1990) adds that drama helps minimise the problem of mixed ability.  More able students can engage in roles requiring more oral communication whereas less able students can be involved more in paralinguistic communication i.e. body language.  In short, drama provides an optimal climate for language learning.

In view of this, drama seems to be a useful means to encourage students of Tsuen Wan Chiu Chow Public School (TWCC) to learn English.  The students are from various cultural and sociological backgrounds, including new arrivals from the mainland and non Chinese-speaking (NCS) children. Many of them have little motivation to learn English.  Their great differences in English competence and learning styles make teaching a demanding job.  Coincidently, drama was a new genre to be introduced in the P4 GE programme.  Realising the benefits of drama in language learning, teachers thought they could take this opportunity to infuse drama into the reading lessons to enhance students’ learning motivation as well as cater for learning diversity.  At the same time, drama would also serve other purposes such as creating a platform for students to practise their speaking skills, expanding their vocabulary, developing their writing skills, and aligning classroom teaching with school event.

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