Portuguese SIMELTA teachers using theatrical practices in the classroom share opinions on the impact of this approach
Students from 11 form, class 6, were told to work in groups in order to do this theatrical Project for their oral evaluation as regards 2nd term.
These students were supposed to have learnt English for 6 years, but 5 students were still in a very elementary stage of learning the English language due to the fact that they had immigrated to Portugal in recent years.
During the preparation of their texts, it was clear that these weaker students were feeling more at ease due to the help of their peers.
After deciding what type of situation they were going to perform, students had to write down their lines and start to memorize them 30 minutes prior to the end of each lesson (they did this during 10 lessons).
In the rehearsal session with the stage director, it was quite a surprise to me to see how all the 5 students had committed themselves to memorizing the texts and were performing their lines out loud, which had never happened during the classes. They had even skipped their oral presentation for the first term!
In this session it happened that some students from another class and year (7) had to attend it. This was also something worth referring to as these students were very disruptive in class and during this session they suddenly started to behave and participate orderly. The stage director and project coordinator, after the session, gathered them all and asked them what they liked about it and not. The great majority was ready to participate in a similar experience.
Not all the students managed to finish their oral presentation in front of all the class, as some elements in their groups got sick or could not be present for many other reasons. Two groups were told to do it on different days according to their availability.
So the good thing here was that they all did the project and presented it to the class or to myself.
The weaker students felt more motivated to learn the language and had a chance to succeed in front of their peers.
As the activities of writing and speaking were already a part of their evaluation, the added performance was not at all seen as a waste of time but a way to enhance their learning skills. Furthermore, all the students increased their marks for the oral presentation this term, in comparison. (Hélder Silveira, English Teacher – Escola Fernão Mendes Pinto, Almada, Portugal)