Using Reader\\\'s Theatre in the ESL/EFL Classroom
Nov 26, 2011 Reading 2313 Views
Using Reader’s Theatre in the EFL/ESL Classroom
Reader’s theatre provides an opportunity for ESL/EFL students to get beyond decoding and to actually play a more active role in the reading process. With reference to Dickens’s Christmas Carol, under the headings of character recognition and making inferences the following short article will provide a brief overview of how reader’s theatre helps to improve ESL/EFL reading comprehension.
Reader’s theatre provides an opportunity for students to connect with the characters of a novel. Using chapter two from the graded reader (elementary) version of a Christmas Carol have students divide the dialogue of the characters using highlighting markers (Scrooge is yellow, Cratchit is Pink, Fred is Blue etc.). Once the highlighting has been completed assign characters to students and read the chapter aloud. Having students do this task creates a greater need for each student to understand the reading and be responsible for highlighting the correct passage, which in turn reinforces who the characters are in the story and how these characters interact with each other.
Often ESL/EFL students are so taxed with decoding that the gist of the story is out of reach. Character recognition not only helps students identify the characters of a story, but it also allows the student to understand the significance of the character to the telling of the story. In the case of the Christmas Carol understanding the connection of Fred, Cractchit and Marley in relation to Scrooge is significant to the understanding the plot of the story.
Making Character Inferences
Once students are aware of the characters and understand their purpose in the text, Reader’s theatre can also help students understand the intonation used in the dialogue and how it relates to the communication between characters. By using the text to teach intonation, teachers can also activate a student’s learning schemata as to how positive and negative inferences are made based on the tone of the conversation. Drawing inferences can also be the basis for group and class discussions on text prediction. Expressing opinions and inferences can help students become more emotionally involved in their reading, and hopefully create a curiosity that encourages students to get beyond decoding and actually enjoy understanding the text.
Reader’s theatre can encourage students to take a more energetic approach to reading while simultaneously improving their comprehension skills. Character recognition and inferences can also help students to become more discerning about their reading, and choosing future choice of reading material. Encouraging ESL/EFL students to get beyond decoding can be rewarding because the act of reading itself, can be the very best teacher.