What is Performing Fluency?
A deeper context for speaking.
Performing Fluency is a series of drama-based strategies for language teaching. It was developed through an interdisciplinary collaboration that unites the pedagogies of language learning and actor training. Instructors can select individual activities to address specific learning goals or they can adopt the overall approach.
Student-Centered Learning and Evidence-Based Practice
Student interests and student voices are at the center of this educational experience. Students choose to study characters from television, film, and theatre that they can personally relate to. They have input on selecting and creating material that is real and relevant to them. Students are active participants in their own learning. We share evidence along the way. Students find this research motivational and helps them overcome initial doubts about things such as theatre games.
We use a curated selection of theatre games adapted for language learning. Each game offers a framework that can be adapted further for specific learning outcomes. Theatre games have been proven effective at building a supportive and collaborative ensemble, or learning community. These games improve student confidence and encourage risk-taking. They promote free expression by reducing affective filters such as attitude, motivation, and anxiety.
Various improv techniques are used to improve spontaneous speech and to create authentic opportunities for language use. Structured improv turns speaking into a game where risks are rewarded and where students must dig deeper to communicate.
Acting Techniques and Performing Fluency
The actor's approach to character development and text analysis offers a dynamic path toward fluency. Using drama to develop a hybrid identity gives speakers a safer way to experiment with language. We explore topics such as the method of physical actions and examine text in terms of objectives, obstacles, and tactics. This allows us to move beyond speech and focus on paralinguistic features such as body language and intonation.
Clear Expression and Meaningful Communication
Performance activities such as improv and scene-study allow us to develop para- and extra-linguistic features (prosody, proxemics, kinesics, suprasegmentals, etc.). We use blank scenes to perform multiple interpretations of the same dialogue.
Cultural and Academic Literacy Through Performance
A convincing actor must understand not only the character's motivations, but also cultural context of the scene. The research that an actor does when preparing a role is useful for language students as they examine cultural norms and practices while making sense of dramatic scenes. We also advocate for intercultural activities whenever possible, and have had much success with crossover classes in which language students and acting students work together. Scene study and improvisation are also engaging ways to introduce students to the peculiarities of their host academic environments.
Reading, Writing, and Task-Based Learning
Studying, writing, and performing scenes helps to explore and strengthen the relationship between spoken and written language. Script analysis (close reading with a particular focus on character, conflict, and dramatic structure) and script writing provide opportunities to develop reading and writing skills. Group projects such as scene writing or creating short films create situations in which collaboration is necessary and language is used to complete a task.