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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Playing with possibilities : drama in the elementary core French classroom Ziltener, Eva


French as a Second Language (core French) is not often a popular subject among Canadian elementary and high school students. Negative attitudes and low motivation for learning French contribute to attrition at the high school level. In this thesis, an alternative teaching approach is applied to the core French context. This action research study investigates the outcomes of using a drama-based approach to instruct core French to elementary school students. Ten students received core French instruction twice a week over a six-week period. They worked together with a teacher/researcher using drama strategies and improvisational activities to practice and improve their French language and literacy skills. The use of drama strategies proved motivational for the students who participated with enthusiasm and expressed a desire to continue learning French through drama strategies. The use of improvisational activities encouraged students to build an understanding of vocabulary and syntax and reduced their fear of making mistakes in the target language. It also increased self-confidence and motivation for continuing to learn and use French. The action research approach combined with the use of drama strategies allowed the students a greater degree of autonomy – their input and feedback was constantly requested and was used to develop content and lesson plans. This engagement in their own learning contributed to improved student attitudes towards attending French class. Overall students expressed enthusiasm for learning French actively, without having to sit at desks or repeat after the teacher throughout the lesson. Ways of implementing this teaching approach in regular classrooms need to be the subject of future research.

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