As easy as 1-2-1! Multiple cross-curricular uses for a simple drama strategy

Thanks to Rachel Hawkes for this.

Who is it for?

This is an idea borrowed from our excellent Head of Drama and adapted for various foreign languages classes at KS3 – 5 and of all abilities. It reduces anxiety, promotes concentration, develops memory skills, and is fun!

Outline of idea (what you wanted to do)

My aim was to find another strategy for encouraging learners enjoy participating orally and to improve their retention of key language in an interactive way.
The idea is a short 3-part dialogue that pairs of students say repeatedly (the 3-part structure is important as the lines of dialogue then alternate between the two speakers). Variations to tone of voice, mood, extent of gesturing (!) can be introduced without breaking the flow, simply by added a picture prompt to the board. Parts 1, 2 or 3 of the sequence can also be replaced by gestures (clap, click or jump), which is tough in any language and requires sustained concentration.

How it worked out

I tried this first with Y12. They are good linguists, but currently struggling with spontaneity as they learn increasingly difficult vocabulary and structures, and attempt to express more abstract ideas. Freed up from the burden of creating the sentences from scratch, they enjoyed experiencing what they will sound like one day when they are fluent. It was a quick, aspirational activity that energised them again and made them more confident. I then tried it with a lower ability Y11 class last lesson on a Thursday. At first it seemed like I might have gone a step too far, but the lesson went quickly for them as well as for me, with one saying at the end ‘Is it the end of the lesson already? That was really fun!’ My Y10 class is preparing for a controlled speaking assessment and they enjoyed the sense that they were mastering a small part of their preparation by doing this activity. For a few of them it was a ‘light bulb’ moment. They realised first hand that you can only get better at speaking by speaking – sounds obvious, but until then it wasn’t clear to them.

Next steps
This is definitely an activity for language classes of all abilities and key stages. It is helping them to find their voice in the foreign language and connect the words to the meanings. I can see uses for this in many other subjects – History, RE, Geography, Science.