Motion and emotion on the language learning stage

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Capra, Umberto
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Department of German, University College Cork
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Growing numbers of teachers and students practicing theatre and drama techniques to boost language learning are convinced of the usefulness for the language learning process of improvising or enacting a script, of reinterpreting or faithfully performing a piece of literary drama. The latest findings in the field of neurosciences give a new and robust scaffolding to teachers’ general belief that drama activities boost language learning.It is argued that such expectations are well-rooted in language teaching methodology and that drama, theatre and the performing arts in general do offer a peculiar combination of benefits to foreign and second language learning, as exemplified by: 1) a paradigmatic case of cooperative learning, with naturally inbuilt roles; 2) an authentic reason for repetition and memorization, enriching rote with meaning and expression.Evidence resulting from neuroimaging research and developments of the discovery of mirror neurons and consequent hypotheses about the evolutionary path to the development of verbal language are reviewed to show ’hard science’ support to the beliefs gathered through praxis by teachers and students and to direct a specific focus on (the need for) the connection of body, voice, motion and emotion in (language) learning.
Capra, U. (2015) 'Motion and emotion on the language learning stage', Scenario: A Journal of Performative Teaching, Learning, Research, IX(2), pp. 90-100.