Staging the Textbook: Supplementing the ESL textbook with drama

Abdullah M Nawi, Janinka Greenwood


This paper explores the application of dramatic frames and drama techniques to supplement the use of the ESL textbook in a rural school in Malaysia, through the use of reflective practitioner research.

Applied drama is an invaluable teaching and learning tool that, if properly harnessed, has the potential to enhance the learning experience for any student, especially in the ESL context. There already exists a growing amount of research and publications that connect drama to language learning, and this paper sets out to make more of these connections by specifically attempting to wear down the borders between applied drama and the ESL textbook.

The rationale behind this is that in the course of a language teacher’s career, he or she would have come across and used countless textbooks in many aspects of planning and teaching a lesson. There are generally two opposing camps when it comes language teachers and textbooks: 1) that they are not good enough and thus have to be broken apart and reassembled, with many parts modified and replaced; 2) that they are good enough to use with minimal reassembly and supplementing materials. The question is how does the teacher turn the sometimes dull textbook into something engaging for the students, meet the objectives of the teaching unit as prescribed in the language syllabus, and not spend countless hours searching for materials to supplement and replace chunks of the textbook that eventually end up not meeting the prescribed learning objectives?

To answer this question, data were obtained and analysed from reflective journals from both the researcher and a teacher-collaborator, as well as through the analysis of focus group interviews. The preliminary findings have shown positive effects on learner engagement and enjoyment, as well as being able to meet the objectives set in the textbook. 


Applied drama; ELT; ESL/EFL; creative teaching; reflective practice

Full Text: Video

DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i1.186


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015