Papers & Workshops



Learning to Communicate in ESL and General Education Classes


Michael J. Boulton

Council of Adult Education, Victoria, Australia


For both Non-English(NESB) and English Speaking background(ESB) students the use of voice and breathing exercises, role-play, improvisation and drama is a means for teaching efficient, appropriate oral communication. This is achieved through the exploration of roles within the community and associated language, which leads to a greater understanding of bodies, voices, and minds.

Drama school teaching methodology and classroom research (Smith, S. et al. 1995) have shown that through the use of role-plays students develop communication skills in analysis, observation, self-expression, empathy and self-confidence. Intervention-style sessions with students in more than 20 ESL and some General Education classes at Council of Adult Education has shown that even students who do not respond to more standard classroom techniques to develop communication skills displayed a marked increase in their degree of participation and production of the target skills within the learning group environment. Hard evidence of the transference of this learned ability to real life situations, though highly desirable, is beyond the means of ESL and General Education providers. Nevertheless the author believes the likelihood of such transference is much greater for those students who have already demonstrated, within the classroom, such a marked change in behaviour: from very passive participation to enthusiastic exploration of, and involvement
in, role-play activities.

  Presentation Format: 90 min. workshop

RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

5-9 July 2000