Young ESL learners are full of energy and welcome activities with buckets of enthusiasm. However, things are not the same with pre teens. Although they are smart and insightful, they are not exactly the most talkative age group. After attempting to do a drama activity and having faced a grade six class full of blank stares and Yes or No, I decided it was time to change my strategies!
Arts to the rescue…
I began by taking a look at some animated videos with very little dialogue finding one called, For The Birds, by Pixar Films.
I showed it to the class to get their reaction and they loved it! Later, I explained to them what the activity was and showed them how to analyse the video for subtle and exaggerated voice and body gestures that would enhance their presentation. Incorporating dramatic techniques – voice inflection, overstatement, and basic singing exercises and warm-ups, I modeled suggestions to bring the characters’ gestures more vivid and realistic.
This was the first group that attempted to do it. Suddenly, as they began presenting, the rest of the class got so excited, they took out their smart phones and began recording and later posting their videos to their friends. It was a first for this sort of activity and they obviously enjoyed it. They shared with me that they were amused by the colourful, animated bird characters. This activity motivated even the most reluctant of students to participate.