Motivating ESL learners to speak in English through drama

C. Gill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


Due to a variety of reasons, overseas ESL learners often experience anxiety when faced with the prospect of having to speak in English. The fear of embarrassment and loss of face can have a negative impact on their motivation to speak and this may deprive them of valuable opportunities to enhance their oral English through practice. They may be able to overcome their reticence by adopting and constructing temporary identities, or roles, in make-believe communities during drama-based activities in the classroom. Such short-term identities are 'masks' which camouflage their real identities as they enact scenes in pretend-situations. This, combined with learning being centred on the participants, can generate the sort of relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that may help diminish their inhibitions. The outcome of this could possibly be enhanced motivation to speak. Their investment in their speech acts for the purpose of creating imaginary communities in which they develop and establish short-term identities in concert with their co-actors can help create avenues for extended speech production.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventClaSIC 2012: The Fifth CLS (Centre for Language Studies) International Conference - National University of Singapore, Singapore , Singapore
Duration: 6 Dec 20128 Dec 2012
Conference number: 5th


ConferenceClaSIC 2012
Abbreviated titleClaSIC 2012

CLaSIC 2012 – Culture in Foreign Language Learning: Framing and Reframing the Issue

The National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University de­fines culture as an integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, languages, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting and roles, relationships and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group; and the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations. This de­finition of culture makes it obvious that language is more than just a means to express a culture; it is in fact an integral part of that culture. Language and culture are therefore closely intertwined and it is hardly possible to teach a language without culture, for culture provides the necessary context for language use. It is therefore not surprising that the US National Standards in Foreign Language Education lists the understanding of the target language culture and its perspectives, practices and products as a key objective of foreign language education.

In making the study of the role of culture in foreign language learning the theme of CLaSIC 2012, the Organizing Committee acknowledges its undoubted importance and encourages participants to actively contemplate and debate this essential issue. Through scholarly and critical interactions with a diverse range of subthemes, ranging from “culture, identity and motivation” to “intercultural language teaching” and “ethnographic approaches to language teaching,” it is hoped that a keener understanding of the multi-faceted relationship between culture and foreign language education can be achieved.


Culture and culture awareness in foreign language learning
Instructional approaches for culture teaching
Intercultural language teaching
Culture, identity and motivation
Acculturation and language socialization
Heritage language education
Assessment and evaluation in the teaching of culture
Curriculum and materials development for culture teaching
Educating teachers for culture teaching
Ethnographic approaches to language teaching
Study abroad and language contact
Transculturalism in foreign language learning
Sociolinguistics and foreign language teaching
Other topics
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