Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a series of workshops by Bill Bowler from Oxford Teachers Academy. The rationale behind the series was to acquaint us (the learning unit heads and curriculum development guys) with further applications of extensive reading in classrooms.
Needless to say, the workshops were a success, and we enjoyed everything that was done. If you wish to have a complete account of all the points covered for three full days, I suggest you follow Aysun Gunes’ blog, for she is already at work writing a summary of the whole thing from a personal point of view on her spectacular blog http://languageteachingtips.wordpress.com.
What I, for my part, intend to do in a series of new posts is to provide insight into drama activities that can be used to enrich extensive reading for the mere benefit of learners.
The first one, in my opinion, is the best because it helps learners create their own role cards for the role-play activity that comes next. For this students are given a character questionnaire (a sheet of paper) to fill in individually. What needs to be done is to pick one of the characters in one of the many Oxford Graded Readers and answer the questions that follow:
1. Why do you think you are so famous?
2. What do you think has been your greatest achievement?
3. What is your greatest dream?
4. What do you like doing in your free time?
5. What is your favorite food or drink?
6. What do you think is the most important thing in life?
Once the questions are answered with imagination included, students get in pairs and are interviewed by a friend who chooses to be the chat show host. I must point out that the sheet of paper also has some useful phrases to help those to participate as hosts. The phrases are:
a. Now for my first/last question…
b. How interesting!
c. What a great answer.
d. Thank you for sharing that with us.
e. Hmm, that’s a good question/a difficult question/an easy question to answer.
When this has been done, one pair of students are asked to volunteer to present their chat show to the class, and if there is desire, the performance can be recorded for further analysis of language. On great thing about the performance is that teacher writes Applause, Laugh, Gasp on the board prior to the activity and guides the audience to react differently to different remarks from the guest and host in order to create a real-like chat show atmosphere.
With our teachers group I was one of the two who volunteered for the chat show to act as the guest. The character I had chosen for the questionnaire was Saladin, and there I was to play the great commander. The activity was better than I had predicted, and it was especially so due to the excellent performance of the host. It should also be said that everything went fabulously well with super timed reactions from the audience. Instead of going into details describing minute by minute how it really was, I am giving here the link https://vimeo.com/56902017 to the video of the presentation for you to judge the quality of our acting and the usefulness of drama to enrich the benefits of extensive reading.
Personally speaking, students will definitely learn more from reading provided they are given extras as this activity because it will be a more meaningful process of study for them. If we, as teachers of English, can still enjoy role plays, there should be no questions in mind that learners will do that as well.