ACT (like you know what you're doing) Fostering Engagement and Motivation in Language Learners through Drama-Based Pedagogy

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Belanger, Laurel
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) , Drama-based Instruction (DBI) , Self-Determination Theory (SDT) , Second Language (L2) , Strategies Inventory for Language Learners (SILL) , The Common European Framework of Reference for Language Acquisition (CEFR) , Steps to English Proficiency (STEP)
This guide considers the complementary nature of a Communicative Language Approach (CLT) and Drama-based Instruction (DBI), within the framework of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), for meaningful and effective learning within the context of French Immersion, Core French, and supporting English language learners when English is the language of instruction. Delivered in six parts, ACT (like you know what you’re doing) serves as a practical guide for language instructors to explicitly connect theory to practice in second language learning (L2) environments. Integrating CLT and DBI nurtures what we inherently do as learners: imagine, communicate, collaborate, and create meaning. Part 1 includes a brief overview of second language teaching approaches for language learning, language acquisition (Krashen, 1982), and the more recent extensions that explore “communic-action” (Bourguignon, 2006), that value both the dialogic nature and physicality of language proficiency. Drama-based instruction provides learners with an open space for decoding language and incorporating affective and cognitive skills while problem-solving. Drama as a process, a craft, and a product fosters authentic situations and contexts, bridging what is learned in the classroom to what is needed in the real world. Participation and realization are fundamental modes of engaging with the world (Fettes, 2013). This involves activating imagination and engendering understanding. When a learner is actively engaged in the experience, meaning and understanding are enhanced. The degree to which a learner’s sense of relatedness, autonomy, and competence is nurtured may impact performance, motivation, and well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2012). The empirical studies, found in Part 2, report positive outcomes for student motivation and engagement in second language environments. These serve to example and support a shift to learner-centered instruction, process-oriented instruction, and collaborative learning that embraces diversity as a resource. The proposed pathway to achieving this shift is ACT (like you know what you’re doing), a guide for practicing teachers. The guide (Part 3-6 inclusive) provides educators with a selection of scaffolded activities that support concentration, focus, collaboration, physical communication, and vocal communication. In a safe and inclusive learning environment, teachers and students explore the tools of effective communication while integrating expectations of the Ontario Ministry documents, through DBI. Assessment is linked to learning outcomes for elementary language acquisition as outlined in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), Ministry Curriculum documents, and Steps to English Proficiency (STEP). Language learning skills, as outlined in the Strategies Inventory for Language Learners (Oxford, 1990), are explored and practiced. Student autonomy, competence and engagement might be observed through self-assessment and emerging self-efficacy.
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