Engage or Entertain? The Nature of Teacher/Participant Collaboration in Process Drama for Additional Language Teaching


  • Erika Piazzoli Trinity College Dublin




This paper was presented at the conference ‘Plot me no plots: Theatre for University Language teaching’ held at the University of Padua in October 2011. The presentation included a practical demonstration of the teacher-in-role strategy and a discussion. Process drama is an experiential approach that has been gaining momentum in the field of language teaching; it is a genre of applied theatre in which the participants, together with the facilitator, engage in the co-construction of a story. As an improvised dramatic form, it encourages negotiation of meaning through the process of experience and reflection. In this article, I reflect on the nature of the collaborative process between teacher and participants in process drama, drawing on my doctoral research on the aesthetics of process drama for teaching additional languages. In this research, I worked with three cohorts of adult language learners, studying Italian as a Second Language (L2), and three cohorts of teachers of Italian (L2) new to drama. I draw on classroom data to illustrate two of the main dramatic strategies of the form: ‘teacher-in-role’ and ‘mantle of the expert’. I introduce these strategies, situate them in a theoretical context and discuss issues and implications when teaching to engage, rather than to entertain.


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