Foreign languages, drama and children: A winning combination!

You know your son or daughter is an extraordinary child. Now it’s time to make your son or daughter a GLOBAL child. How better to do this than introduce them to a foreign language – or even three? And what better means than through drama?

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It is widely accepted that children are “open” to learning new languages. It is also no secret that most children are excited at the prospect of performing and being at the center of attention. Global Kids Drama brings together English (or Spanish and French, depending on the group), multi-disciplinary lessons using Montessori principles and methodology, with a dramatic expression.  Every workshop involves public speaking, performance, recording on video (upon agreement with every child and with every child’s parents), for an experience that no child can ever forget!

Global Kids Through Drama and English workshops help children to become sophisticated, worldly individuals.  They can do more than just speak a few words in English, (or any target language of the class: Spanish or French may be included or taught exclusively.)  Through diverse methods (games, songs, dances, mini-plays and art projects), children will have the opportunity to learn about the colorful history and culture of nations in six continents and to talk openly about the world. As part of the Global Kids Drama Workshop experience, children can learn to integrate into any company, anytime and anywhere – by having the confidence to not only to converse but to entertain others – in a language not their own.   Globally minded, multi-lingual children – including children who just started learning a new language –  confidently make connections with people and places in countries or cultures different from their own.

Global Kids Through Drama and English workshops also aim at teaching  practical skills for every day life – all mini-plays, comedies, songs and fun, active or artistic word games involve telling the time, reading (and making) weather forecasts, finding ingredients on labels, or for tricky travel situations.   Children learn how to help their parents in tricky travel situations:  choosing a destination, booking a flight, how to pack, airport rules and procedures; they can help their parents navigate a map of London’s Underground, or New York City’s subway … Oh, and of course, they know what to do (because we practice this in class) if they get separated from their parents, and must turn to the right stranger to get help … in English!

The most important thing of all?  The children become presenters, and by extension, experts and teachers – to their own parents who are watching them perform Every kind of “expert” can be found in the drama classroom:

  • paleontologists and curators of a Natural History museum, using my collection of minerals and rocks from my many trips in nature around the world.   Some children put on an ” Indiana Jones” costume and show artifacts that presenting the phases and details of life on Earth LONG before the dinosaurs, as well as during the dinosaur era and our modern era.

(add compilation video of “paleontologists” here.)

  •   They might role-play as Picasso getting into trouble with his teachers and being sent to “detention” – where they can comically show a happy artist “in the making”, who does not mind so much that the teacher punished him, because he can now draw in isolation and silence :).

(find and add picasso role play video here)

  • Children can play the role of  “art critic”or “apprentice”too, standing next to the famous artist.  They have a great role to play as well as the “artist”.   They can tell me, or a parent who is watching: “Be quiet!” and not to disturb  Leonardo Da Vinci , because “he has been working on this painting (the Mona Lisa) for three years. He is concentrating.”

It is a common enough occurrence for a parent to attend a Global Kids performance or watch a video of the children, and say:That was enlightening! I actually learned something that I didn’t already know.

Thus, the children, seeing themselves passing on their learning to adults, fully own their education.   And THAT does wonders for the child’s self-esteem, like NOTHING else!

Both language practice and theatrical performance help children to work together, solve problems, achieve fun, worthwhile goals, and develop empathy and tolerance.

What makes Global Kids Through Drama and English Workshops an  extra-special experience?

  • The CONTENT (funny, every-day situations set in many different countries or cultures around the world – or in different periods of history) the method (art, music and drama).
  • The unique – and incredibly FUN MATERIALS (authentic materials from around the world, food, currency, scores of costumes and clothes – some from the target language country – and literally hundreds of props)
  • The PERFORMANCE.  Every moment of Global Kids workshops contains some level of performance.  The children learn new concepts and the English words for those concepts with holistic Montessori-style practice (Montessori materials, methodology and philosophy) and work towards a performance which takes place in the last part of the workshop.   I encourage lots of comedy because, as children inherently know, laughter is the most important way to know that you are happy – and it makes others happy, too!

This rich combination – (interesting content  + original materials + Montessori-style learning + performance (with a comic twist)) – guarantees that children experience the world from different perspectives.  It guarantees that they will be far more confident in “foreign” or “out-of-comfort-zone” situations. 

Another benefit to including drama in every language lesson is that it improves a child’s abilities in many academic and life skills.  It has been shown that drama  increases literacy skills in ANY language (including their own).   Drama increases a student’s skills in the  visual arts, in the learning of sciences, in geography, in world history, and of course, in communication skills.  Here are some sample videos of young students “becoming experts” even while they are learning!  All through play and performance 🙂

In the grown-up world,  confident communication skills increase positive outcomes in  networking with others, in business and travel, in creating positive and useful connections and relationships.   Combining drama with English helps children to what to do when one of life’s  challenges appears unexpectedly.  Drama helps us to be “psychologically ready” and to “know what to say”.

(find and insert video on children training for “On holiday: I lost my parents.  Which stranger do I ask for help from?” lesson.)

Drama and is a perfect complement to school and preparation for any child’s higher education.  Make the child the expert and that child will NEVER forget the words that he or she learned in that “play-session”, nor the content of the subject or discipline in question.  I asked some review questions to the “presenters” of the video below – three months after we made the video together.  They remembered nearly everything they presented about Paris and France – including the English words!

 

Most importantly, foreign language through drama allows EVERY KIND OF CHILD to confidently enjoy visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile experiences, which are inevitably include every kind of child into the lesson: from the most outgoing to the the most introverted and even the shyest of children.   Hearing the lines, speaking or responding, seeing the actions and reacting,  feeling the props, acting out the movements and using unique learning materials, funny toys, authentic souvenirs and realia, will inspire EVERY child to make his or her unique contribution to the stage … and then to the world.  And not only as a successful foreign language learner – but as a sophisticated global citizen!

To paraphrase the one and only Shelley Vernon, an international speaker and author on ESL/EFL for children:

Foreign languages, drama and children: A winning combination!

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