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Integrating theater performance workshops in the Beginning French classroom
American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) (2014)
  • Nicole A Mills, Harvard University
  • Brendan Shea
In a Beginning French II course, students engage in an interactive simulation of life in Paris and explore various facets of Parisian identity. This presentation will describe the integration of American Repertory Theater performance workshops in the curriculum. These workshops teach language learners the fundamentals of stage acting and improvisation and the tools used by professional actors to more effectively communicate their stories and speak with confidence and clarity in the course's final theatrical performance and beyond. The goals of the A.R.T. workshops are to coach groups in real-time to introduce awareness of gesture, vocal production, and rhythm of action. The workshops encourage learners to find ways to tell the story of the scene and its characters without relying solely on vocabulary and grammar, but the attitude and expression behind each utterance. The techniques of stage acting introduced through coaching highlight the physical interactivity of language as well as the verbal. The coordinator of the Beginning French program will begin the session with a description of the course's simulation project in Paris and an overview of the character presentation and final play assignments. Next, the Education and Community Programs Manager at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) will describe two A.R.T. workshops integrated within the Beginning French curriculum that assist students in communicating their characters' stories and speaking with confidence and clarity for the course's final theatrical performance, later performed in a creative arts space. To conclude, the presenters will lead the participants in a brief demo of the fundamentals of stage acting and improvisation, with a specific focus on the intentional use of gesture, action, and vocal expression to generate meaning. Participants will then be invited to engage in a discussion of how theater may provide stimulus for developing the aesthetic and social dimensions of language learning.
Publication Date
November, 2014
Citation Information
Nicole A Mills and Brendan Shea. "Integrating theater performance workshops in the Beginning French classroom" American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) (2014)
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