Go to content
Author(s) + contact information
Kathleen R. McGovern
Performing   Language and Identities: Adult Immigrant Students and the Creation of a Play
This thesis   presents findings from a yearlong study of a classroom of adult immigrants   studying English as a Second Language (ESL) in the U.S., who collaboratively   created and performed plays based on their life experiences. This research is   rooted in poststructuralist theories of identity in second language learning (e.g., Norton, 2000; 2013), a view of language pedagogy as a form of liberation (Freire,   1970), and the notion that theater can be used by non-actors to critically engage with   issues of relevance to the community (Boal, 1979). The teacher researcher of the   class used ethnographic investigation informed by autoethnography and action research to examine: 1) how students perceived theater as affecting their language   development, and 2) how individual students’ identity development was affected by participation in the class. Data included interviews, field notes, audiovisual   recordings, artifacts, and journal entries. Relevant literature in the fields of  immigration, second language acquisition, and drama in language teaching is reviewed   and discussed. The process of engaging students in playwriting and performing   is detailed in the findings section along with a discussion of the nature of theater in   the second language classroom. The data analysis exhibits that creating a play had  many positive effects on students’ affective dimensions, second language development,   classroom dynamics, and investment in the course, as well as some negative   effects including anxiety amongst students at the prospect of performing in English and   instances of interpersonal tensions. Classroom implications of the study include the recommendation that teachers frame theater explicitly in a positive light and make   expectations of students clear from the beginning of the course.
Key words
Language learning, adult immigrant, ESL,   theater
Other interesting information
Interest for the project
Contributor´s name + email
Stéphanie Barillé - stephanie@unak.is
Co-funded by The Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Back to content