Drama in the Business English Classroom, Workshop

SI851236 Patty, Verena, Frances, Corina, Gayle, Stefanie, Beate, Barbara and three Susannes gathered with me on a sunny Friday two weeks ago for some teacher training on using role plays, real plays and other dramatic activities within the Business English classroom.

We started our session off with a suggestion I took from Lindsay Clandfield on using images to create scenarios and beamed a photograph on to the wall encouraging the participants to tell me

  • where we where we were

  • what we waiting for

  • how long we’d been waiting and

  • how they felt.
A series of fantastical dialogues started off very quickly – exposing just who in the room knew the most about art and modern-day artists!

SI851240Later we chatted about the relevancy of this activity in the language classroom and how giving students visual clues helps stimulate their ability to converse and covered the questions of

  • why drama should be used in the language classroom

  • when to use it

  • how to manage the activities

Based on those issues, we chatted about the appropriacy of using dramatic activities with adult Business learners and discussed things which can go wrong when doing these with students.

We all agreed that one of the factors to watch for is that adult business students often think the activities will be a total waste of time - or that they look at the page and aren't able to make a personal connection to the scenario described and also, often, can't see the connection to the language they just learned.

Issues related to structuring drama activities (should one, should it be left to chance?) came up quite a bit –
some participants feeling very strongly that role-plays should have a very clearly defined outline and others feeling that going with the flow helps students to find their own voices.

In the 2nd part of our workshop we looked at published role play and real play activities, covering those provided by Market Leader and Intelligent Business, as well as photocopiable materials from:

  • Business Roles

  • Business English Pair Work

  • InCompany Case Studies

Midway through our session we did another activity based on Ken Wilson’s Be Someone Else (from his book Drama and Improvisation in the Language Classroom).
This activity calls for students to recreate another personality all together and answer questions.

SI851229This led us, naturally, on to talking again about the differences between providing real plays (a.k.a simulations) and clearly fantasy experiences.

As mentioned above, often adult students studying Business English, prefer activities where they are still themselves.

However younger adults do often jump in to do the crazier activities with enthusiasm.

In some respects this does come down to the teacher’s attitude to drama him/herself.
Lindsay’s suggestions in his Straightforward guide on using realia to set the scene was very useful - we talked about how the simple things in an office, when a teacher is working in-company, can really help to set a scene.

SI851244 In the 3rd part of our workshop we reviewed using my Conversation Control sheets as a method of providing feedback related on emergent language and entered the last part of our session with a video from Taylor Mahil (here), finishing our day with the participants creating their own scenarios: based on both realia and/or textbooks and we shared what everyone came up with.

All in all, it was a day full of fun, drama and we all learned much!!



Useful links related to this posting:

Murder Of A Superhero. Weapon? An Item Of Office Equipment.
Resource Books for Teachers: Drama and Improvisation
Amazon UK, US, DE)

Straightforward Guide: Roleplay + free activities

The Workshop Slides:

p.s. If you have any questions about any of these slides or what we discussed during the workshop, don’t hesitate to post your questions here by clicking on the word comments below.

1 Response to “Drama in the Business English Classroom, Workshop”

  • Unknown says:
    August 13, 2009

    Hey Karenne, I enjoyed reading about your workshop. It gave me some ideas and links to check out for using in the elementary classroom. Thanks!


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