Reviews of Drama and Improvisation from HLT (Humanising Language Teaching)
The book is rooted in the work of the Comedy Store Players and the work of Viola Spolin. The author not only acknowledges their influence on his work but pays a true tribute to them. The author himself has had an impact on the ELT drama world, through his involvement in the English Teaching Theatre.
In the foreword to the book Alan Maley, the series editor, puts in a nutshell the reasons why we should use drama in class. Drama offers: “playfulness”, “enjoyment”, “physical movement”, “affective engagement”, “effortless effort” and “unpredictability”. The book offers activities which have all these features at their core.
The activities are grouped into five chapters which focus on icebreakers and gelling, interaction and improvisation, games, drama club, working with text and transcript. I cannot quite see why there is a special section devoted to organising and running a drama club. The activities contained there seem to belong to other chapters of the book.
On the whole the book is a good balance of classic drama activities and innovative ideas which will surely become classic. The book is very inspiring and refreshing. A must have.
Humanising Language Teaching
ISSN 1755-9715 (online)
The following is from English Teaching Professional, Issue 65, November 2009
They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and here’s a very good example of one that shouldn’t be so judged. Clad in a maroon and turquoise jacket redolent of the Scunthorpe United football kit, and with a poor quality photo of some out-of-focus students in what looks like a 1970s drama group engaged in who knows what on the front, this one wouldn’t have made it off the staffroom shelf and into my bag if it hadn’t been recommended by a friend.
It would certainly be a great shame if the unappealing exterior put people off, because this is actually a very good book. It is packed full of activities designed to bring English classes to life through drama and improvisation and to stimulate the students’ imagination and creativity. The activities are well laid-out and easy to follow, giving important information (such as level, the time needed to complete them, any preparation required and the aims) at the top so that a quick flick through is enough to enable teachers hunting for something to do with their classes to identify likely candidates. After the main instructions, there are suggestions for follow-up activities or ways in which they can be varied, together with comments and hints on getting things to run smoothly.
A brief but comprehensive ‘How to use this book’ section at the beginning will answer many questions that teachers have about doing activities such as these, and goes a long way towards tackling the ‘Yes, but what if..’ mentality which puts many of them off attempting drama in the classroom.
The activities themselves are chosen so that they cater for those who just want to add a little drama and improvisation to their classes as well as those who are ready to run a drama club or get their students working with full-length scripts. The last chapter has a number of humorous sketches that teachers can photo-copy and use with their classes. Full instructions for activities using these sketches are provided and some have additional worksheets.
A book full of entertaining but productive activities that will make learning enjoyable for students. What more could anyone want – apart from a more attractive cover?
She went on to say this:
Ken Wilson’s Drama and Improvisation is a brilliant book offering endless creative real-play (simulations) and role-play activities which can be easily incorporated within any lesson.
In my opinion it’s an important book to buy if you want to add personalization to your lessons and if you’re a teacher looking for a way of having fun while sticking to the learning objectives yet exiting the dullness of using a textbook from cover to cover.