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As Much Fun As Recess! Using Drama
for Form-Focused Primary Instruction

The ACIE Newsletter, May 1998, Vol. 1, No. 3

By Cathy Lundberg, French Immersion Teacher, Andrew Jackson Middle School,
Prince George's County, Maryland

 


One of the most pressing challenges in the elementary language immersion classroom is how to integrate form-focused activities into the broader content-based, meaning-focused framework representative of immersion education.

Students need effective ways to address problematic language structures that surface frequently. The use of simple drama scenarios provides a perfect context for rehearsing correct structures, and has the advantages of increasing student motivation and offering an opportunity for movement and self-expression. Such focused-input activities are particularly well-suited for the cognitive and language proficiency levels of the early primary grade learner.

The following very simple skit, of the type used at summer camps and at Cub Scout or Brownie troop meetings, has been used in the French immersion classroom to reinforce correct language usage and grammar while targeting areas where students tend to have difficulty. Keeping track of the most commonly found language mistakes in the classroom is an important first step. Once a teacher determines that several or many students are repeatedly making a particular mistake with the language, she can, with a few props and a little imagination, make up a simple amusing skit that will allow the students to get additional practice focusing on the problem structure. Thus, teachers can circumvent the fossilization of these structures by directly addressing them and devising lessons with which students can practice correct language use.

This skit is one example of such a lesson in English, and can be easily adapted to any immersion language. The key is to keep the language very simple, and repetitive, so that it's easy for young children to quickly memorize and perform. Other vocabulary and content can be incorporated into the skit, and a lot can be learned through an activity that primary students consider as much fun as recess!

SKIT - THE CHICKEN

Objective: Use possessive structures correctly

Characters: Owner of the chicken, Friend of the Owner of the Chicken,
Chicken Thief, Friend of the Chicken Thief, Police Officer

Dialogue:

 

Owner:

Good morning, ma'am.

Chicken Thief:

(holding a toy chicken) Good morning, sir.

Owner:

That chicken is mine!

Chicken Thief:

This chicken is not yours! It's mine!

Thief's Friend:

You must be crazy! This chicken is hers.

Owner's Friend:

What do you mean? That chicken is his!

Owner:

Enough is enough! I'm calling the police! Police! Police!

Police Officer:

What's going on here?

(The whole cast repeats dialogue from the third line.)

Police Officer:

Let me see that chicken. (Looks at the I.D. collar.) This chicken is his. It belongs to Henri Dupont! (Gives the chicken back to the owner, then turns to the thief.) That chicken isn't yours! You're a chicken thief, and you're going to jail! (Leads thief off to jail.)

 

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