Dear Scenario Readers,
In this last issue for 2017, we prepared five research papers, two reviews and one text for the rubric Texts around Theatre. The papers are linked to the 2nd International SCENARIO Forum Conference, which took place in May at University College Cork and marked the 10th anniversary of the SCENARIO Journal (see video recap here).
The English language articles come from Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA, concerning learners as different as 4-5 year old pre-school pupils, primary and secondary school children, university students, and refugee grandmothers who have had no formal education. The authors demonstrate performative pedagogy facilitating learning for all these students. In each case the context is carefully set out by the practitioner researchers: Anne Smith supporting migrants and refugees with a low level of English in the UK through her applied theatre programme “Creative English”; Yasuko Shiozawa & Eucharia Donnery developing a culturally sensitive drama-based pedagogy for third level Japanese students of English as a Foreign Language; Gustave Weltsek exploring evaluation of performative pedagogical practice in the context of a year-long pre-school process drama project in the USA; and Petra Bosenius presenting a tool for assessing performative competence during drama-based English language teaching at both primary and secondary school in Germany. The German language article features Susanne Horstmann’s drama-based Kiswahili teaching concept at the Language Centre of Bielefeld University.
Anne Smith’s highly successful applied theatre programme builds the confidence of low level English speakers to engage with the English speaking community. Exploring reasons for different levels of engagement with the world outside the programme sessions, Smith argues that facilitators trained to use drama in “Creative English” sessions must believe in the method and use their physical bodies to model performance for the learners. Smith’s article exemplifies good practice on multiple levels, including theoretical framework, practical details, observation notes and holistic consideration of all stakeholders.
Yasuko Shiozawa & Eucharia Donnery provide considerable insight into Japanese culture, outlining educational concerns faced within the Japanese context, and describing the development of drama camp programmes over three years to address these issues. They argue the suitability of drama-based pedagogies to address cultural characteristics, which may inhibit language learning, such as shyness and avoidance of failure. Like Smith, Shiozawa & Donnery’s programme aims to support learners’ confident production of spoken English. Unlike Smith’s learners, Shiozawa & Donnery’s learners are all highly educated, having studied English for 6 years at school.
Gustave Weltsek’s learners are at a USA pre-school threatened with closure due to low test scores. Weltsek describes a delightful process-drama project through which pre-schoolers experience aspects of the journey of the westward expansion across America, including problematic power relations, injustice and hardship. Weltsek’s brutally honest article also takes us on a journey within this problematic educational context, addressing theoretical issues around performative pedagogy, exploring the meaning of success on levels of classroom practice, high-stakes assessment, research and analysis, and (possibly most importantly) describing moments when the emergent self of three of his learners can be observed.
Petra Bosenius presents a vision for English language teaching which embraces the full array of school-age learners. She identifies three layers of performative competence and illustrates how they are inherent in any drama activity, with illustrative examples from primary, lower and upper secondary level teaching. She offers us an assessment sheet and explains how this tool can support assessment as a fruitful enterprise. Bosenius underlines the importance of the classroom being a safe learning environment and echoes Smith’s point, mentioned above, about the need for teachers to be convinced of the advantages of drama in English language teaching.
Susanne Horstmann gives a very detailed insight into the development and implementation of as well as a reflection on a drama-based language teaching concept. In her article, she provides an in-depth description of the course elements: movement, rhythm, melody, role and theatre play elements as well as clowns’ principles. Along with the other contributors to this issue, Horstmann argues for drama-based activities in order to encourage learners to use the target language and to raise learner autonomy.
The issue concludes with a Text around Theatre and two book reviews. Fionn Woodhouse contributes an excerpt of Stefanie Preissner’s book (2017) Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? Serafina Morrin delivers the book review of Kelly Kingsbury Brunetto’s (2015) Performing the Art of Language Learning: Deepening the Language Learning Experience through Theatre and Drama. Francesco Bonelli contributes a combined review of two special issues of the journals LIDIL and LEND, both edited by Filippo Fonio and Monica Masperi: Les pratiques artistiques dans l’apprentissage des langues. Témoignages, enjeux, perspectives, LIDIL special issue, and Approcci teatrali nella didattica delle lingue. Parola, corpo, creazione, LEND special issue.
We wish all of our readers a wonderfully playful and inspiring year 2018!
Mandy Collins and Dragan Miladinović