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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using Drama for Learning to Foster Positive Attitudes and Increase Motivation: Global Simulation in French Second Language Classes


Drama has been effectively used in many learning contexts including English as a second language classes. However, it has received less attention in foreign/second contexts. This article explores how drama for learning can impact upon the relationships among attitudes, motivation and learning in French second language (FSL) classrooms. The authors describe a second language research project done in grade 9 and 10 classrooms based on the principles of drama for learning including play and make believe, learning in context, and ownership of learning. Global simulation, the particular form of drama for learning used in the project, involves a voyage of discovery undertaken by a group involving a final destination and an itinerary. During this second language journey, students act, react and interact to create meaningful individual and group experiences and incorporate cooperative learning principles. The approach also allows the facilitators to draw on Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory in order to structure activities that maximize students’ individual strengths. The research project included development and piloting of the global simulation module, assessment of the pilot as well as assessment of implications for its future use. Data gathered for assessment included student questionnaires and teacher interviews. Results of the project indicated that there were improvements in the learning environments, including an increased level of motivation on the part of the learners involved. The teachers also expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the approach, especially because of their involvement in the development and implementation of the material from the beginning, which appeared to give them a sense of ownership and empowered them in their professional growth. Students also appeared to become more active and engaged in their learning as a result of a sense of ownership over their drama productions. In general, the results suggest that drama for learning and specifically global simulation are viable approaches for grade 9 and 10 FSL classes. This research lays the groundwork and provides direction and concrete resource materials for those who would like to experiment with global simulation in enhancing motivation among students in second language classrooms.

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