When I’m speaking at conferences for language teachers around the world I sometimes wonder why the voice of the most important resource we have – the students themselves – is somehow missing from the talks and workshops that we deliver. It’s all very well talking about techniques and strategies that we can use in our classes, or even demonstrating them with teachers, but do they work with real learners? What do students actually think about our approaches? Can they see the benefits of what we are trying to do?
At the ADRIES conference in Split, Croatia I was hoping to redress the balance a little in my talk about drama and language learning by linking to a group of girls in an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, Gaza. But I’d sent them a zoom link and not heard anything, so I’d assumed that sadly the internet wasn’t strong enough for them to be able to connect.
In fact their timing couldn’t have been better! They joined by zoom just as I was showing a slide with an extract from Scott Thornbury’s introduction from our just published book of thirty of the plays from last year’s playwriting competition. So I was able to ask the audience to read the slide and hold it in mind as they watched the remote performance of a play the girls had created, ‘Live your life’, and as they listened to the girls’ reflections afterwards. I now invite you to do the same.
“More importantly still, drama is expressive: it invests an imagined world with the thoughts, experiences, feelings, fears and hopes of its creators. In the context of Palestine, this is an incredibly important function – it provides a means of thinking the unthinkable, of saying the unsayable, of dreaming the undreamable. And it is transformative: it empowers its creators by enhancing their English skills, and hence giving them a powerful voice in the wider world. But also, by construing their lives as narratives that can be performed and shared, drama eloquently affirms their identity as Palestinians and as global citizens”
(Scott Thornbury, Toothbrush and other plays – Gilgimish 2018)