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The Advantages of Dramatizing Teaching Approach Used in Chinese Language Learning Program

As more and more students learn Mandarin in China, teachers of Chinese language learning program have researched lots of Chinese teaching approaches to help students learn Chinese well. Dramatizing teaching approach is one of the efficient teaching approaches of Chinese language learning program.

Some professors of Chinese language learning program researched this teaching approach recent years. Drama has been used in education fields since the 15th century in Europe. After the centuries’ silence, Drama of the Britain in the 20th century returned to the school education. The first monograph about dramatizing teaching approach was published in 1907, whose author is British scholar Harriet Findlay Johnson (1871-1956). Dorothy Heathcote and her successor Gavin Bolton are the outstanding and influential British scholars in this field. While the first person who combined drama together with foreign language teaching is the French Foreign Language Educator Francois Gouin (1831-1896) (Schewe & Shaw, 1993). In the monographs which talk about dramatizing teaching approach and foreign language teaching, the most influential one is Schewe & Shaw (1993).

One professor of Chinese language learning program defined for the Dramatizing teaching approach in one of his essays. Dramatizing teaching approach is a means which applies drama performance into teaching knowledge and cultivation skills. In Australian teaching system, it generally belongs to artistic and innovate education. The major pattern includes role play (O’Toole, 2002, 2006), socio-drama (Scarcella, 1978), process drama (Stinson & Freebody, 2006) and other small dramas and dramas. One of the main differences is the scale and the amount of drama elements. Role play has no such serious requests on the drama elements like stage property and can be completed in classroom. The time of it can be long or short, while small drama and drama will often need to use stage property and costumes. When stage show need to be arranged, the time can be planed long or short according to the teaching requirements. Large scale of dramatizing teaching approach can be divided into different stages and ran through the whole semester.

Dramatizing teaching approach is frequently used in ESL/EFL. Nowadays more and more teachers of Chinese language learning program have applied it into the teaching of Chinese to foreigners. For example, one teacher in Keats School asked overseas students of Chinese language learning program to think of the solving methods of the family conflict between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law according to the social situation play designed by the oral Chinese class of senior class in university, then to compile drama scripts and present to the public. A practice of Chinese language learning program in one Chinese school even invited professional drama director. The final purpose of teaching was to perform in the target language to the public in the end of the semester. Students who took part in the performance not only included French students, but also included students with different language cultural backgrounds of other countries, which formed a real intercultural theatre.

Dramatizing teaching approach in Chinese language learning program is different from dramatic literature teaching in mother tongue teaching. From the aspect of teaching purpose, dramatizing teaching approach doesn’t focus on literary aesthetic appreciation, but on the cultivation of the second language skills and the improvement of intercultural communication ability. Dramatizing teaching approach is also different from the dialogue exercise in teaching textbooks. Dialogue exercise is compiled by the authors and students can only need to study and recite without participating in the process of creation. However, dramatizing teaching approach asks students to create drama scripts and teachers can discuss the subjects according to the clues provided by teaching requirements of Chinese language learning program. Because students can take part in the teaching process actively, dramatizing teaching approach is good for increasing the students’ study motivation and the devotion of affections to study process. It has been proved that a group of students who are learning Mandarin in China can learn faster and better in dramatizing teaching approach.

Study motivation is one of the important individual factors which influence the acquisition of second language. The enthusiasm of students can be completely stimulated by this approach.

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