Learning a Language as a Piece of Theatre

by | Jun 16, 2021 | Education

As Shakespeare once put it, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” And if that’s the case, why should learning a language be any different than learning a script? 

One Crazy Narrative After Another

Early conversation practice at ABC Languages can take many forms. Practice ranges from a class to a conversation group, to even a bit of narrative theatre. I worked with co-founder Elizabeth Zackheim, and together we ran through a short French conversation diagnostic. This included the help of Carmen, Betty, Yukio, and a few other fictional characters to help us test out speaking lines in French.

The class took place in a classroom in Paris. The characters we acted out included students from America to Italy to Japan. Each gave their own perspective on visiting Paris and naming their favorite monuments — as any tourist would! Before long, the scene took a mysterious turn when a publication in the local newspaper announced the disappearance of three students from a rival language school. Sadly, our story was cut short due to the fact that we only read individual chapters. I guess it’ll be a while before we uncover what happened. “It’s a bit of Scooby-Doo,” Zackheim joked.

Running Lines Makes for Perfect Practice

So how does running through a short plot like this help with learning a language? Speaking lines out loud with a partner helps with both comprehension and pronunciation. Particularly if you’re working with a teacher who can guide you on both levels. Our chapters were pretty elementary, both in vocabulary and pace. This allowed for ample space to break down each portion to its most accessible core.

French can be quite the challenge to speak through correctly the first time around. Therefore, we paused to sound out words syllable by syllable.  As the teacher, Zackheim also took moments throughout the narrative to check in with my comprehension, asking certain “feeler” questions to gauge my understanding. Her doing so allowed me not only to stay focused on the story itself, but also gave me a chance to practice my speaking skills as I strove to elaborate on my answers. 

A Place for Well-Informed Feedback

After running through the narrative, Zackheim was also able to give a well-informed diagnostic towards my comprehension and oral skills in French and recommended shortly after which of the conversation groups at ABC Languages I should attend. For any student looking to test out their skill levels in a foreign language, running through a script like this can be a fast and fun way to receive feedback from a teacher towards what you might need to focus on moving forward. Afterwards, attending a conversation group like those at ABC Languages can provide an environment to work out oral and listening skills in a comfortable, well-paced environment.

To learn more about the conversation classes available at ABC Languages, visit abclang.com. 

For more on language and culture from Downtown, click here.

A LINE IN THE SAND

A LINE IN THE SAND

  Sam Waterston is taking a stand in support of the world’s oceans. by Mike Hammer photography by Andrew Matusik...