Drama in a foreign language classroom:
2 re a s o n s t o g ive it a g o !
Bavarian International School, Munich
Primary Teacher - German Department
(= strategies = conventions)
The difference of Drama techniques and Drama games:
Techniques = strategies = conventions:
> Toolbox of teacher:
* to develop enquiry skills;
* to encourage speaking, understanding and creativity;
* to enhance performance skills (character development and storytelling);
* to actively involve students in their own learning;
Drama games - Drama activities
to break the ice
to warm up
to build up
Drama games = activities:
> Taken from a wide range of sources; developed by actors/directors/teachers;
Before the “go”: Set up common classroom agreements with the students!
To promote Drama as a ‘serious‘ learning tool and to make students accept it as such the teacher must explain/
discuss the rules with students beforehand.
12 Reasons for Drama
1) To give it a go & to build up conﬁdence > students can “leave their bodies”, hide timidness behind a ﬁctive
character, relax while speaking and ﬁnd themselves/discover something new;
2) To warm up physically and mentally;
3) To build up group dynamics & team skills through social interaction; > interaction = giving+ taking; also
accepting+ building upon;
4) To encourage to make use of full potential of creativity & imagination; > supports interaction of brain
parts > to play using imagination is a natural way to learn > nature of childhood;
5) To ﬁnish a lesson with happy smiles;
6) To help memorize vocabulary and sentence structuresin different contexts;
7) For enjoyment and motivation > culture / language is new, perhaps scary;
> opportunity to accept myself as a learner = making mistakes is o.k.;
8) To support verbal/ non-verbal skills > general communication skills;
expression & communication through body language = learning & understanding a language through
9) To differentiate/scaffold individually > considering different learner styles;
10) It is movement (away from table and chairs);
11) To improve concentration > the appliance of drama is very structured;
12) Learning comes from students, opportunity to implement their own stories > teacher can step back (after
===>>> Drama games/activities can be tailored and new invented for any individual situation!!!
Clapping & Speaking
* Großer Schuh (Big Booty): numbers, warm up, concentration
Students standing in circle, everyone has a number, one is Big Booty. Big Booty leads the rhythm by clapping on legs. Everyone says: “Big Booty, Big
Booty, Big Booty.” Than Big Booty starts: “Big Booty - Number (e.g.) 10” Number 10 says: “Number 10 - Number X.” Number X continues... . As
soon as someone falls out of the rhythm everyone says:”Oh No!”. The game starts again.
* Presents (receiving + giving): vocabulary, warm up repetition, also to accept something
+ build on it - no refusing > therefore team building;
Students stand in a circle. One starts to offer another person a present (= any word, e.g. Unit vocabulary). The person receiving the present chooses
another word (association) and happily passes it on to the next person...
* Counting: concentration + team building;
Teacher starts with: “One.”. Any student continues counting until all students have said a number. Every student can only say one number. A number
only can be chosen by one person! If two people say the same number at the same time the game needs to start again. Teacher can also start with
highest number of students (e.g. 18). Than students need to count backwards. As an extra challenge students can close their eyes.
* (silly) Story telling: creativity, motivation, accepting and building on, vocabulary +
Teacher starts with a word or a sentence. Every student says: “Yes!” and repeats the last word/sentence and adds another word or sentence to
make it a story...
* Yes, let’s: accepting something > social skills+ vocabulary;
One shouts: “Yes, let’s (e.g.) run!”. Everyone pretends running.. Next person chooses an activity, all students act out.
* Clapping & Speaking: team building, practice;
By clapping students cut a spoken word/sentence in junks.
“10 - Sec - Object”
> Memorizing + practicing vocabulary;
> Team building > different groupings;
Teacher chooses vocabulary (e.g. three new Unit words). Than students need to express one word in 10 seconds with two or three other people.
After that the teacher says another word. Students need to find other people to “create” the word in 10 seconds. If a word is repeated students need
to find the original people to create the word in 10 seconds again.
> Opportunity for different versions of same content;
> Movement = good for active children;
> Applies for all age levels;
> Fun & quick game/refresher/energizing;
Drama = opportunity for every personality to learn and grow;
> Drama promotes Learner Proﬁles of 21st century > accepting thoughts/ ideas from
others = respecting, caring, open minded;
> Practicing vocabulary/sentences;
Students sit/stand in a circle. Teacher starts a scene by stepping into the circle and expressing something. Another two people add something to the
scene one by one also saying what they are adding. After a fourth person steps in explaining him/herself one of the three before leave the scene....
Drama involves a wide range of sources!
Students pass on a word/sentence. They are not allowed to ask if they don’t understand but just pass on by whispering into the next person’s ear
what they think the word is. The last student tells the result of the whisper chain.
Table Theatre: Students let different character speak;
“I can try out the language without fear.”
Other versions: ﬁnger, paper bags;
Pantomime / Role Play
Comprehending a non-ﬁctional text:
> First reading a text + discussing within a group/ with partner;
> Than acting out silently helps to understand and concentrate on a process > a text
> Helps memorizing vocabulary;
> Transfers into further understanding after discussing and describing again;
Still Mime - Pantomime
Students can try out and experience a language:
How does it sound?
How does it feel?
How does it look like?
> Practice, repetition and internalizing vocabulary/ sentence structure
(“Ich bin gefahren.”, “Ich habe geschlafen”..);
> Guessing game = fun component;
“Drama likes silly”
Children like to be silly and playful > the effect of letting go can be observed soon;
However, the whole learning process needs guidance and structure!
Drama makes language / learning & thinking visible > enhances methodology of the
> Through movement > making use of body/ body language > learning through
> Different learner types can be supported > = differentiation:
Through acting out / through acting and reacting > = interpersonal action!
Drama helps to develop transdisciplinary skills of learning of 21st century.
Drama enhances learning of
Drama strives the
<<>> Antithetically, teaching & learning in a digital world is ALSO an important aspect
of the 21st century.
> Extensive use of technology allows/implements less movement (e.g. writing, holding,
walking, turning..) > physical movement is limited > consequently less support of
> Cognitive development is connected to the learning environment, to the experience of
the surrounding with the whole body/ through movement;
It should be the task for a teacher of the 21st century to support/develop a healthy way of
learning, to promote a balanced learning, to bring balance into the students thinking and
Drama strives and enhances balance of learning!
“Auf Wiedersehen” in the world of Drama!
Brian Woolland: The teaching of drama in the primary school.
* David Farmer: Learning through drama in the Primary Years.
* David Farmer: 101 Drama Games & Activities.
* David Farmer: 101 more Drama Games & Activities.
Jessica Swale: Drama Games for classrooms and workshops.