FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING – INNOVATIVE METHODS
Theatrical Practices in the Classroom
Several projects and informal learning experiences were integrated in the Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility Project, currently implemented in Portuguese schools, Fernão Mendes Pinto being one of them. An example is The Erasmus + project SIMELTA that has as theme the study on the impact of “theatrical practices in learning foreign languages”. This approach was used in a PLNM (Portuguese as a Foreign Language) class, extending it to the migrant communities.
The innovative method called the attention of the Ministry of Education and a representative team came to school for an interview that was published on their website .
ANA PINA (Headmistress)
“I´m here to share with you some of the experience we’ve had on the “Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility” Project. And to make our purpose clear, I’d like to start by saying that this school’s motto is to be a welcoming school, “a school of and for everyone”, and that’s how it is assumed in the Principal’s project. But it is also the result of a common project, of all the teachers who came through here.
Therefore, since we are “Fernão”, and being “Fernão” means daring to turn life into an adventure, we often embark on trips not totally calculating the risks but always having a strategic mindset. And that takes us into another kind of logic, which is to turn school into a project, by itself, as João Barroso said in an article many years ago.
It replicated the mosaic of curriculum projects, and we saw here an opportunity to stop committing “legal infidelities” or trying to “get around things”, sometimes with the Inspection’s compliance or noncompliance, and so have a legal framework for what we’ve been doing for several years and now do with much more audacity and confidence.
We’ve been going on with many projects in a continuity logic because we believe, mostly, in what nowadays is called a “liquid future”, i.e., that in today’s world of uncertainty the ”soft skills”, the communication, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking abilities, work as integration tools in the social world and in the world of work.
Thus, we had been working, and we tend to continue doing so, on projects that deal with those areas but now we’ve had the formal condition and the institutional support to get “inside” the curriculum. We all know that many of these projects work around the formal curriculum and now we’ve had the chance to integrate the informal curriculum in it. Mostly, the classroom has become a place for the type of learnings that are “alternatives” to the traditional, in my point of view, passive, uncritical and often dehumanized models.”
LURDES CRUZ (SIMELTA Coordinator):
“I’m at the Projects and External Relations Office and I’ve been attending meetings and seminars related to this Curricular Autonomy and Flexibility experience here at school. Although some of these practices already existed from previous years, we continue to promote them and we’ve also tried to broaden some of the experiences this year. Among those experiences, we have the use of theatrical practices in learning foreign languages.
We’re part of an Erasmus+ Project whose theme is a study on the impact of theatrical practices in learning foreign languages. We’ve expanded this experience thinking about the added value that may come from the use of this methodology in Portuguese language teaching in migrant communities.
At the moment we’re working here at school with a PLNM (Portuguese as a Foreign Language) class and we’ve gone through this kind of approach. The teacher did a set of activities and assessed all the” lessons learnt”- by the teacher and the students- at the end of the activities. According to the teacher and the students’ statements, we can apprehend that this is a methodology that should be used, since it brings advantages in the acquisition of contents and in the classroom atmosphere, which is completely different. The students move, interact, and the contexts in which they learn the language become more “authentic” because they reproduce daily life situations, situations that are animated by their own emotions and jointly this leads to being relaxed, trusting themselves and others and so creating situations where language learning becomes easier.”
“I’m going to talk about my practice with my “PLNM” students – theatrical practices in Portuguese as a foreign language learning.
What we’ve organized as an “activity”, so to say, was a role-play with the whole class and, to start with, the problem I was faced with was “How am I going to incorporate the 3 different levels this class has so that all of them can take part in the play?”.
Well, we´re a team: I [teacher Armandina], teacher Lurdes Cruz, our coordinator, and Carlos Melo, our stage director who came to help us with this. I am the PLNM teacher, the one “In charge of” the contents to be taught for each of the language levels, and together we thought of a uniting theme for this dramatization. One of the added values of this kind of practices is that the shier students can get a bit more self-confidence and even in classes they start having a very different oral participation, a more active interaction. And that helps, it’s a kind of activity that seems more “relaxed” and ends up by loosening them up. We´ve had ten 45 minute-sessions, about 12 lessons.”
ENIL: “I liked it very much. Even in Mozambique I was used to roleplay activities, had drama classes and I like acting very much. I am a bit introverted but when I have to act I do it and we’ve learned a lot from it. I would like to continue doing this, every time we can.”
JOSEFINA: “I think it was a very rewarding experience because it helped foreigners to integrate at school and to know the Portuguese culture better. I liked the activities we did throughout the school year because I’ve learned something new!”