Readers Theatre: Improving Oral Proficiency in a Japanese University EFL Course

by Patrick Ng
University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Esther Boucher-Yip
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, United States of America

Abstract
Improving oral proficiency in the EFL classroom is usually a major goal for most EFL instructors. One effective approach in teaching oral skills is the use of drama called Readers Theatre (RT). It is a presentational performance based on principles and techniques of oral interpretation which seeks to entertain, instruct and persuade (Adams, 2003). The ‘actors’ first read a story and then transform it into a script involving several characters. To portray a character, readers strive for voice flexibility, good articulation, proper pronunciation and projection. In this action research study, we explore the use of RT activities in improving oral skills in one EFL course in a Japanese classroom. Our objective is to examine students’ observations of their own language learning experiences through RT. We first provide a literature review on the pedagogical values of drama in developing oral competence. We then describe the implementation of the RT activity, followed by an explanation of the data collection and analysis. We also report Japanese EFL students’ observations of their own language learning experiences through RT. We then discuss the nature of the relationship between the use of drama techniques, particularly the use of RT, and oral proficiency in the Japanese EFL educational context. Our observations suggest that using RT in the language classroom is generally a rewarding learning experience for EFL students and teachers. We therefore recommend RT as an effective technique in helping students in the process of improving their oral proficiency.


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7 thoughts on “Readers Theatre: Improving Oral Proficiency in a Japanese University EFL Course

  1. Dr. Ng and Dr. Boucher-Yip, thanks for writing about RT. Yes, RT is one of the ways less attempted in Japanese college EFL classrooms.

    • Thanks Professor Asano for your kind comments! Readers Theatre is widely used in Singapore. If you need additional information, do feel free to contact me. Cheers!

      Patrick

  2. Thank you for … your article.

    It is true that to improve Japanese students’ speaking ability is difficult. I am sure the methodology based on Readers Theater would be effective. I think that it would engage the students very practically.

  3. really very useful topic specially for those teachers who are interested for students interaction to be made in the class.without their activeness it is not possible that a teacher get success in teaching the language.this is really very good strategy.

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