The Integration of Improvisational Drama Techniques to Stimulate Spoken Interaction (PhD research)

Duration: februari 2019 - februari 2023
Involved professor: prof. Dr. Rick de Graaff
Involved researchers: Kristina Goodnight, Catherine van Beuningen
Related educations: Lerarenopleidingen Duits, Engels, Frans en Spaans

Goal and target group

The central goal of this research is two-fold: to assess the characteristics of a professional development program aimed at fostering integration of improvisational drama techniques (IDT) in the foreign language (FL) classroom and subsequently, to analyze IDT as a tool to stimulate positive affective factors related to spoken interaction among secondary school students. These techniques are defined here as activities that promote spontaneous spoken interaction in which participants portray characters in fictionalized situations (for example, role-plays or theatre-sport activities).

Relevancy for professional practice / social relevance

Secondary school students often do not dare to speak the target language in FL classes. Teachers often lack resources or time—both to prepare and in the lessons themselves—to implement engaging activities to promote spoken interaction. Students therefore do not have ample opportunity to practice conversation skills, whereby the threshold to speak the target language remains high.

The integration of IDT could engender a positive change in the circumstances described above. IDT can generally be implemented easily into a wide variety of FL curricula; they can also create a positive environment in class—one that can decrease the barriers students may have toward speaking the target language. During the exploratory research phase in preparation for this doctoral study, it appeared that the vast majority of teachers see the value of IDT, but seldom incorporate them into their teaching practices. Training teachers in IDT could galvanize them to implement these techniques into their lesson and in turn contribute to students’ willingness to speak the target language.

Educational relevancy

The training developed through this research will eventually become available for implementation in the FL teacher education program—both as a component within the curriculum as well as a free-standing module for professional development for teachers outside of the Bachelor or Master’s programs. In addition, the continued implementation of this program could positively impact Master’s FL teaching students in that they can help conduct the training, offering them experience educating teachers, Despite the fact that this Master’s qualification allows them to become teacher educators, the current program offers limited opportunity for them to develop these skills.

Consortium / research partners

Universiteit Utrecht