Do you enjoy watching movies? What about going to the theater to see a play? You don’t have to go all the way to Broadway: most towns have their own theater groups and local theaters for performances. Maybe you enjoy these things but have never acted in theater yourself…but what are you waiting for? Theater is a great way to meet people, to overcome a fear of public speaking, and to learn some culture. And, if you are someone who is trying to learn English, doing theater is another amazing way to greatly improve your English skills!
You might be saying “Wait a minute, I can barely speak English, I can’t speak English on a stage!” Well that’s where you are wrong! Performing on a stage or in front of a classroom is a very fun and effective way to improve your English. Why?
Here are 5 amazing ways doing theater helps your English:
- You memorize and repeat new vocabulary. When you are doing theater, you usually have a script to follow. With this script, you can repeat the lines over and over, improving your pronunciation until you get it right. By the time your perform the piece, you will know lots of new expressions and words by heart, and correctly!
- You begin to overcome the fear of speaking English. When you are in a theater environment, and you must play your role as part of a team, you will find that you can do it more easily than if you were alone speaking to a classroom. As part of the group, you all have the same fears and you are all in the same situation. This makes it easier to do, and also more fun!
- You allow yourself to fail. Doing theater isn’t easy—that is why people win awards for it on a professional level! Allowing yourself to make mistakes, like forgetting your lines, is a big part of language learning. It is not possible to really improve if we are always perfect—we must make mistakes in order to understand the language. But many students are too afraid to make a mistake, and remain silently frozen in a classroom. But in the theater, you will be part of a group of people, all of whom WILL make a mistake. You can then laugh about it, and learn from it.
- You learn to improvise. What do you say when you don’t know what to say? Practicing theater helps our skills in improvisation—inventing our words as we go. When you speak your native language, you are almost always improvising, and not reading from a script. Doing theater will make it easier for you to do the same thing in English, and take more risks. This is a very important skill when it comes to all kinds of real-life situations such as job interviews, or just meeting new friends in English!
- You are having fun! Doing theater is fun, I promise! And when we are having fun, or making an emotional connection with language, our brain remembers that language much more easily than if we were only reading a book, with no emotion. This is because learning a language is a natural, creative process that the brain can easily do when given the right situation. Traditional classrooms and books are not the ideal situation for the brain to do its job with language—but (of course!) doing theater is the perfect environment for this mental task!
If you are an English teacher, maybe you have never thought about using theater in your classroom until now. There are many tools online and activities you can do right in the classroom, and for all ages of students, from children to adults. Here is one resource with several lesson ideas for theater in the classroom.
But if you are an English student, where can you go to find other students like you to do theater with? There are some progressive language schools who have understood how effective this kind of learning can be for students, and you can find one in your area. Speak English Center in the Grenoble area has two locations in which you can combine learning English and learning theater! They have classes for adults and kids, which make good use of all of these techniques.
If you are in the Grenoble area, don’t hesitate to contact Speak English Center in Fontaine or Saint-Martin-d’Hères to find out when the next theater class will be!
You will be amazed at the progress you can make once you break out of the traditional classroom, and have fun with theater and Speak English Center!
Have you ever tried doing theater or improv?
Did you find that it helped your language ability?
Were you surprised how much you enjoyed it?
We love to read your comments below!