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Steven Long Director of Global Film Exhibition in Conversation with  Heba Omran of the Drama Academy Heba Omran

Heba, can you share with us what inspired you to start teaching English through drama?

The inspiration behind my decision to teach English through drama stems from my own personal journey in the field of drama and the arts. I have always been captivated by the power of storytelling and the ability of theater to engage, inspire, and connect individuals on a deep level. Witnessing the transformative impact of drama in my own life, I realized its immense potential as a tool for language learning.

How has your journey in drama and the arts influenced your teaching methods?

My experiences in drama and the arts have greatly influenced my teaching methods. I have found that integrating elements of drama into language instruction creates a dynamic and immersive learning environment. By incorporating improvisation, role-playing, and performance-based activities, I can enhance the overall learning experience for my students. Drama enables them to actively engage with the language, encouraging creativity, critical thinking, and effective communication skills.

In what ways do you believe drama enhances the learning of English?

Drama brings a multitude of benefits to the learning of English. It provides students with authentic and meaningful contexts in which they can practice language skills, such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Through dramatic activities, students can explore different social and cultural situations, enabling them to develop a deeper understanding of both language and its cultural nuances. Additionally, drama fosters confidence, collaboration, and empathy, which are vital skills for effective language use and intercultural communication.

What are some of the favorite plays or dramatic techniques you use in your classroom?

In my classroom, I employ a variety of plays and dramatic techniques to cater to different learning preferences and levels of English proficiency. For beginners, I often incorporate simple scripts or dialogues that focus on key vocabulary and basic language structures. As students progress, I introduce more complex plays, incorporating challenging language and themes. Techniques like role-playing, tableaus, and improvisation are also incorporated to provide opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and language practice at different proficiency levels.

Can you share a success story of a student who significantly improved through your drama-based English lessons?

One success story that stands out involves a student who initially struggled with speaking English confidently. Through drama-based English lessons, they gradually gained the courage to step into different character roles and engage in dialogue. They began to express themselves authentically, using the language in a meaningful context. Witnessing their growth in confidence and fluency was immensely rewarding, and it is such successes that reaffirm the efficacy of drama as a tool for language learning.

What changes have you seen in the teaching of English through drama over the years?

Over the years, the teaching of English through drama has witnessed notable changes. There has been a shift from purely performance-based approaches to a more inclusive and experiential approach, where students actively participate in the creation and exploration of language through drama. Drama techniques have become more widely recognized and accepted as valuable tools for language educators, leading to the development of specific drama-based English language teaching methodologies and materials.

How do you keep yourself inspired and stay updated with new methods in drama and English education?

To keep me inspired and stay updated with new methods in drama and English education, I actively engage in professional development opportunities, such as attending workshops, conferences, and seminars. I read books, articles, and research papers on drama and language teaching, and I collaborate with fellow educators to exchange ideas and best practices. By constantly seeking new knowledge and perspectives, I can continuously improve and innovate my teaching methods.

How do you encourage students to continue their drama and English learning outside of the classroom?

Encouraging students to continue their drama and English learning outside of the classroom is essential. I incorporate performance opportunities, such as plays, skits, or presentations, where students can showcase their language skills and creativity to a wider audience. I encourage them to attend local theater productions, join drama clubs or language exchange groups, and engage with English-language media, such as movies, TV shows, or podcasts. By cultivating a passion for drama and English beyond the classroom, students are more likely to continue their language-learning journey and apply their skills in real-life situations.

What advice would you give to educators looking to integrate drama into their English teaching?

For educators looking to integrate drama into their English teaching, my advice would be to start small and gradually incorporate drama techniques into existing lessons. It's important to choose activities and plays that align with the learning objectives and interests of your students. Collaborating with drama specialists or attending training programs can also provide valuable guidance and support. Remember to create a safe and encouraging environment where students feel comfortable exploring the language through drama, and always reflect on the impact and effectiveness of your drama-based approach to continuously refine your methods.

Looking back on your career so far, what are you most proud of, and what hopes do you have for the future of drama in language education?

Reflecting on my career so far, I am most proud of the positive impact I have had on my students' language skills, creativity, confidence, and overall personal growth. Witnessing their progress and seeing how drama has opened doors for them in terms of language proficiency and self-expression is truly rewarding.

Looking ahead, my hope for the future of drama in language education is that it becomes an integral part of mainstream language teaching methodologies. I believe that by embracing drama as a tool for language learning, we can create immersive and engaging environments that enable students to reach their full potential as language learners

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