On 3 April 2014, LAKMA invited 3rd year students of English Philology of the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences to join a workshop on storytelling and drama given by LAKMA member Alma Balnienė, teacher-expert at Šviesos Primary School in Vilnius. The workshop organized by the LEU lecturer of English didactics Loreta Andziulienė was kindly hosted by the Information Resource Centre at the US Embassy in Vilnius.
During the workshop, Alma Balnienė shared with the LEU students her extensive experience of teaching English to young learners and also her insights from a study visit to the Pilgrims summer school in the UK. The students had an opportunity to try out a range of activities for young learners (such as ice breakers, warm up activities, elements of storytelling and drama) that engage young learners in the process of learning and help the teacher and the learnersto reach the intended learning outcomes.
The warm up activities, such as Elephants or Slip-Slap-Click,mobilized the students for interactive group work. The drama activities, such as Through the Face, Magic Scarf, The Room, showed the students how to integrate drama into a language class successfully and how to make learning more attractive and learner-friendly. The taster session of mini-activities was followed by practical examples of how to plan and managea full drama-based lesson, such as The Leopard’s Drum.The students learned how to make puppets, practice the script and act out the story.
Storytelling and drama activities were followed by speaking tasks which focused on developing creative thinking skills, such as A Present in the Bag and The Story of Things. The most creative activity – The Story in the Pocket – encouraged the students to reflect on the knowledge they had gained during the seminar and also apply the knowledge in creating their own stories.
At the end of the workshop, the students evaluated the activities. Their favourite activities were The Leopard’s Drum and The Story in the Pocket. The feedback on the workshop was highly positive: the students reported to have increased their awareness of the key principles of storytelling and drama and also to have learned a number of ways of applying these principles in practice. Moreover, the students said that the workshop helped them to better understand how learning subject content could be integrated with learning a foreign language in a young learners’ class.