Dear Scenario readers,
Although diverse in its topics, this issue's articles have one thing in common: they are all based on talks and workshops offered at a conference on “Drama and Theatre in Second and Foreign Language Teaching”, at Reutlingen University, Germany, in July 2015. As the guest editor of this edition I am therefore happy to give you an impression of the wide range of contributions. The conference's aim had been to connect researchers, teachers and practicians and to offer a platform for a multinational exchange of best practices, which is reflected at least partly in this issue by the two contributions from Italy.
In their article Nachhaltige dramapädagogische Sprachförderung für Grundschulkinder mit DaZ, Sophie Charlotte Rummel and Doreen Bryant (Tübingen University) outline how holiday language camps held for primary school children in Tübingen found a continuation in the form of language clubs. Their project addresses the problem of sustainability of language camps for German as a second language, and they report how the University and City of Tübingen try to solve this problem by establishing language clubs for primary school children with special language education needs. After reviewing the design and implementation of the Tübingen language camps, they describe the design and some exemplary teaching structures applied in the language clubs, which were established in 2015. It is a special feature of these clubs that they prepare children for the language needs of the school subject of MENUK (‘Humanity, Nature and Culture’, a subject at German primary schools) with the help of drama techniques.
Also based at Tübingen University, Jonathan Sharp describes an English oral communication course at Tübingen University in his article Macbeth in the Higher Education English Language Classroom. For one semester students of English – enrolled in teaching degree courses or non-teaching study programmes – studied the many facets of William Shakespeare's Macbeth with the help of diverse drama-in-education techniques. The evaluation accompanying the course suggested that the students did not rate the course as more or less effective in regard to language learning than other oral communication courses. However, the evaluation questionnaires contained overwhelmingly positive responses regarding learning in the aesthetic domain and the appreciation of the literary value of Macbeth.
A multinational cooperation project on multilingual readers' theatre is the focus of the article Dramapädagogische Elemente im Leseförderprojekt „Mehrsprachiges Lesetheater“ (MELT) contributed by Kerstin Theinert (PH Weingarten),Angelika Ilg (PH Vorarlberg), Sabine Kutzelmann (PH St. Gallen), Ute Massler (PH Weingarten) and Klaus Peter (PH Vorarlberg). In the EU-funded project MELT (2014-2017), researchers and teachers in five countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg) are working on developing didactic-methodic design for a teaching project promoting reading fluency in pupils in grades 5-8. The article shows how drama techniques are integrated into the class design and how they prepare pupils for the readers' theatre sequences as well as complement these sequences.
In her report on practice - 900,– Euro! oder Dreigroschen: Kollektive und Individuelle Schaffensprozesse bei der Erarbeitung eines Theaterstückes - Michaela Reinhardt (Università del Piemonte Orientale) describes how individual and collective processes of creating intersect within foreign language theatre courses. These are offered under the name of TiLLit (Teatro in Lingua – Lingua in Teatro) as electives at the University of Eastern Piemont. As the author and course instructor observed, and student surveys confirm, the students appreciate for example how they can get creative when developing a piece of theatre from scratch (option 1) or in shaping roles based on an existing theatre script (option 2).
Also located at the University of Eastern Piemont, Umberto Capra takes a look at processes happening when drama elements are employed in language learning in his article Motion and Emotion on the Language Learning Stage. He discusses how findings from neuroscience support language-teaching methodologies that use drama techniques.
In his essay Fear and Trembling - The Role of 'Negative' Emotions in a Performative Pedagogy John Crutchfield (FU Berlin) draws a connection between insights in neuroscience and emotions in language learning. He offers a philosophical contemplation of what makes a 'good' teacher (which includes an understanding of teaching as an art), the role of negative emotions such as fear and nervousness in the learning and teaching of languages and looks at how artistic training of teachers can make them aware of the productive potential of so-called 'negative' emotions.
Finally, Abigail Paul (Theatre Language Studio, Frankfurt) shows in her 'window of practice' text Incorporating Theatre Techniques in the Language Classroom the connections between communicative language teaching and the basics of improvisational theatre, as outlined by Viola Spolin, Augusto Boal und Keith Johnstone. She describes a number of improvisation exercises – sometimes variations of well-known classics – and how they can be applied in the language classroom to promote a relaxed learning atmosphere, greater spontaneity or to practise certain language structures.
Complementing all the articles derived from the Reutlingen conference, Stefanie Giebert (Hochschule Reutlingen) contributes a Conference Report on the bi-annual conference of the German Society for Foreign Language Research (DGFF) in October 2015 in Ludwigsburg. She gives a short summary of several drama-related talks and describes how a workshop looked, among other questions, at the practical implementation of drama techniques in the foreign language classroom. The report closes with an overview of some drama-related conferences that could be of interest to language teachers in 2016.
As guest editor of this edition, I would like to thank Susanne Even and Manfred Schewe for the opportunity to make some of the many contributions to the drama conference in Reutlingen accessible to a wider audience. I would like to thank both for their patient support and help during the whole editing process. Moreover, my thanks goes to Jonathan Sharp for proofreading many articles and his general support, and of course to all authors and reviewers for their contributions and constructive cooperation.
Your Guest Editor,