Dramatic Reading for ESL Differentiated Reading With Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Dramatic Reading for ESL

Differentiated Reading with 10th Grade EFL Students

ESL literature is replete with studies focused on optimal learning environments and enhancements to student motivation (Lazaraton, 1886). Some of this literature parallels earlier work by linguists, psychologists (Harter, 1981), and educators (Richards & Rodgers, 2001), and early childhood researchers (Vygotsky, 1986) who specialize in language acquisition. Indeed, there is a plethora of anecdotal information about how to use visuals, games, music, and drama to increase ESL students' engagement in their learning. However, formal research about the effectiveness of drama as context for teaching English as a second language is not readily found in the literature.

This case study offers a discussion of the use of drama as part of a differentiated reading strategy to teach literature to 10th grade ESL students. Although the highlighted strategy is generally applicable, the literature used in this exercise is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Three main attributes that contribute to the effectiveness of differentiated reading strategies with ESL students are discussed: Stress reduction and student engagement, motivation and practice, and enculturation.

Stress and student engagement. Krashen (1981) emphasized the importance of a low-stress environment for ELS students, explaining that anxiety -- which responds to a theoretical affective filter -- is detrimental to learning, and particularly to learning a second language. According to Celce-Muria, students may be more engaged with a lesson, and have a better understanding of the concepts of that lesson, when they learn through drama instead of solely through lecture, explanation, or instructions. Further, Celce-Muria concluded that comprehension of a lesson may be enhanced even for students who play passive parts or mute characters in the drama. The attention level of these passive participants is higher than when instruction occurs conventionally (Baxter, 1999). Gorjian, Moosavinai, & Jabripour (2010) found that student stress was reduced when they studied literature practically rather than theoretically -- the method preferred by many literature instructors.

Motivation and practice. Harter (1981) posited that intrinsic motivation declines as students advance through the grades. Participating in dramatic activities may increase students' interest in learning. Students who learn successfully through drama enter into a positive iterative circumstance in which drama enhances learning and performance, which fosters confidence and reduces anxiety, conditioning the students to accept more drama-based instruction in the future.

Gorjian, Moosavinia, & Jabripour (2010) found that the close reading and textual analysis of conventional approaches to teaching literature also occur in drama-based instruction, where "each play is read sentence by sentence in the classroom and their meanings are clarified." Dramatization may enhance comprehension helping students achieving "comprehensive input" (Krashen) in context rather than just understanding textual components" (Gorjian, et al.).

Enculturation through drama. Berlinger (2000) posits that students who engage in story-telling, repeated rehearsal, and dramatic performances benefit academically, and are better able to understand cultural differences. Through drama, ESL students see how drama and literature unfold in consecutive patterns, appreciate the inner life of characters, and have increased interactions. Matsuzaki-Carreira (2005) wrote that drama enhanced the development of empathy via exposure to character arcs. Deep engagement and emotional connection tend not to occur in a literature survey class where the emphasis is on a passive review of text.

Gorjian, Moosavinia, & Jabripour (2010) found that the close reading and textual analysis that characterizes more conventional approaches to teaching literature is well duplicated in a drama-based instruction, where "each play is read sentence by sentence in the classroom and their meanings are clarified."…

Sources Used in Document:


Baxter, J. (1999). A message from the old world to the new: Teaching classic fiction through drama. English Journal, 89(2), 119-124.

Berlinger, M.R. (2000). Encouraging English expression through script-based improvisations. The Internet TESL Journal, VI (4), April 2000. Retrieved February 25, 2011. from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Berlinger-ScriptImprov.html

Boulton, M. (1968). The anatomy of drama (3rd ed.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001). Teaching English as a second or foreign language (3rded.). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

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