Drama involves acting out scenes in which people play the roles of individual characters and tell a story by acting out the behaviors of these characters. While some people enjoy the drama by itself, educators and therapists have looked to drama as a tool for accomplishing a variety of goals, including improving communication skill. Communication skills are a crucial part of successfully functioning in the adult world and are a common need for many careers.
Researchers have experimented with the use of drama in teaching communication skills to children with disabilities. For example, therapists sometimes have children act out experiences they have, such as dreams. Therapists can have children choose the scenario they act out, or they can pick the scenario themselves. Acting can involve both verbal and nonverbal communication. Acting gives children opportunities to develop various communication skills, such as storytelling, direction giving, negotiation, emotional expression and the explanation of abstract concepts.
Drama can help students develop communication skills in specific languages by role-playing in various situations where they need to use certain foreign language words. Role-playing can help with native language skill development as well by helping students develop larger vocabularies by practicing using words in communication.
Drama can help students develop spontaneous conversation. Students may learn specific vocabulary words and respond to teachers if asked questions or when drilled on the definitions of these words, but they often do not use these words in spontaneous conversation. Drama can simulate spontaneous conversation.
Drama can help improve the creativity that children use when communicating by forcing them to take on different roles and understand issues from varying contexts. Communication in drama also gives students opportunities to use language to carry out specific functions, such as problem solving, conversation and decision-making.
Drama helps people learn to engage in meaningful dialogue and genuine communication . When students feel they have freedom to express themselves without criticism, they can learn to communicate in ways that are more creative.
Students and patients may feel reluctant to engage in drama, so the teacher or therapist needs to create a nonthreatening environment where participants can develop self-esteem and trust. This will lower inhibitions and encourage risk-taking. Over time, facilitators should include other elements into the drama, such as dramatic tension and character development. When the students become more comfortable and proficient at acting, they can start using improvisation, which increases their verbal flexibility.
Drama gives a unique opportunity for students to develop nonverbal communication skills. People can practice verbal communication skills while sitting in a desk or with a pencil and piece of paper. However, nonverbal communication often requires acting to practice, since people must actually use their bodies to communicate. The subtleties of bodily emotion conveyance are difficult to translate on a page.
- Down Syndrome Education Online; The Development of Communication Skills Through Drama; Sarah Chatterton and Sian Butler
- Encuento Journal; Drama in the Development Of Oral Spontaneous Communication; Vanesa Alonso Aldavero
- ReadingRecovery.org: Language Acquisition through Drama Reading Recovery Conference
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