Acting Classes Can Help English As A Second Language/English Language Development
After almost a decade of being a Teaching Artist for Center Theater Group (CTG) and the SAG Foundation, as well as a senior teacher at Gary Spatz’s The Playground, it still brings a smile to my face and makes my heart pitter patter when I see kids who are working with English as a second language improve their speaking and communication skills.
How do they do it? Because a large part of teaching acting for stage or camera is all about articulation, enunciation and diction, it makes for a great “one-two-three combo” on the journey of learning how to communicate clearly and effectively! So, it hurt my heart when I met with a 5th grade teacher (who teaches the lowest level ELD students) about doing a theater/literacy residency with her class and she didn’t feel she could give up 2 hours a week and still fulfill her curriculum.
I wanted to scream, “But this will HELP them in support of your curriculum!” But over the years I’ve seen the enormous pressure teachers are under to get it all done with huge classes and dwindling resources and so I kept my mouth shut. (How our school system could be–and should be–utilizing the arts to help create better students, communicators and dare I be so bold as to say, better human beings is a future blog.)
Let’s face it, if your average adult was dropped in another country and tasked with having to learn a new language and all the nuances of communicating in a foreign land, it would be daunting and unnerving to say the least. Now imagine you’re an 8-year old (give or take a few years) and it happens. Time to start the therapy fund? Fortunately no, because most kids are extremely resilient with minds like sponges ready to soak up the abundance of knowledge being presented to them.
Universally, people learn more and at a faster pace when they’re having FUN and that’s where acting class can make a big difference. Warm up your articulators (lips, tongue, jaws) because next time I’ll give some specific exercises and improvs that can help develop language skills. Until then have a Peachy-Weachy day!