Perfect disguises: Building an evidence base for improvisational drama techniques

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Goodnight, Kristina
de Graaff, Rick
van Beuningen, Catherine
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Department of German, University College Cork
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Dutch secondary school pupils seldom speak the foreign language in class, citing anxiety as a primary factor (Haijma, 2013). Implementing improvisational drama techniques (IDTs), however, could help ameliorate this situation by generating positive affective reactions, such as confidence and joy, and in turn stimulate pupils to speak. The concept IDT in this study contains two key elements. Firstly, participants take on roles in fictitious situations. Secondly, the activities must elicit spontaneous speech as to offer language learners opportunities to practice real-life communication, which is central to the goal of this research. The question driving this study was: What types of IDTs induce positive affective reactions among pupils and, as such, have the potential to stimulate spoken interaction in FL classrooms? The study yielded 77 IDTs associated with positive affective reactions through a literature review and an analysis of student teacher reflections on their IDT use in their English classrooms. This combined evidence lends credence to the conception that it could be the essence of improvisational drama that generates positive reactions, rather than the type of activity—the essence being an invitation to enter a fictional world, combined with the improvisational element that readies learners for spontaneous interactions.
Dutch secondary school , Speaking skills , Improvisational techniques , Performative teaching
Goodnight, K., de Graaff, R. and van Beuningen, C. (2021) 'Perfect disguises: Building an evidence base for improvisational drama techniques', Scenario: A Journal for Performative Teaching, Learning, Research, 15(1), pp. 1-27.