This is part of a series of interviews with fellow English language teaching professions to be published on this blog.
The interviewees are drawn from a variety of teaching contexts, in different countries and working with different kinds of learners. What they have in common is having experimented in some way with their teaching practice.
Interviewee #2 – Anna Papadopoulou
1) Who are you?
I have been teaching English mainly to adults since 1999 and for the past nine years i have been teaching ESP at tertiary education level (maritime English and English for marine engineers). I have also extensive experience teaching business English and English for tourism, accounting, logistics etc.
I did my experimental practice at a school for second chance learning i.e. a school for adults that didn’t have the chance to finish obligatory education (in Greece this is up to 15 years) and they come back to this special school at an older age.
2) What did you choose to do for your experimental practice and why?
I chose drama in order for the students to get creatively involved. Drama can offer real life context for the students to practice the language in an entertaining way and be actively involved in the learning process and also to communicate feelings and emotions.
3) How did you go about researching this area? Were there any sources you found particularly useful?
I studied various books but also i found great sources online. The following two papers were very helpful:
Belliveau G, Kim W. Drama in L2 learning: a research synthesis https://www.academia.edu/5698724/Drama_in_L2_learning_Research_Synthesis
Zafeiriadou N. Drama in language teaching: a challenge for creative development http://www.ekadeve.gr/arthra/ekpaideutika/article_14.pdf
4) How did you record what happened in the lesson? What were the most effective and interesting ways you found to document your experimental practice experience?
I had a colleague from my DELTA course observing the lesson which was quite helpful as after the experimental lesson we had the chance to discuss and share ideas about the purpose and effectiveness of the lesson. I also asked the students to fill in a questionnaire after the lesson which gave much insight about what worked during the lesson.
5) What happened? What did you find out about teaching and learning and teachers and learners by doing your experiment?
The most important realisation was that students are more than willing to experiment. Before the lesson I had some doubts whether the students will be happy to expose themselves to something that they are quite unfamiliar with. I was astonished when all of the students and mostly the older ones (some of them in their late fifties and sixties) performed all the tasks and activities with great enthusiasm. They were 100% percent involved, eager to participate, didn’t hesitate at all and seemed to really enjoy it. My fear that they will be inhibited and reluctant to be exposed was quite unfounded. The feedback from the questionnaire revealed that all the learners would welcome the opportunity to have a similar lesson, different from conventional teaching and probably focusing on expressing themselves. Active cooperation between the learners can be encouraged in this way and this can be transferred to other activities as well. Learners would welcome the opportunity to be active participants rather than positive receivers of information.
Anna Papadopoulou is on Facebook and is a member of the Cambridge DELTA Group, administrated by Marissa Constantinides and the team at CELT Athens