Students learn English through acting in Daegu
|First-year students An Hyo-bin as Jessica and Lee Ji-min as Ryan sell the audience an unusual product on the home shopping channel. From “As Seen on TV,” which won the grand prize for Best Play. By Seo Jeong-deok|
At one school in Korea, learning English isn’t just about memorizing vocabulary and practicing test questions. Here, the play’s the thing.
Teachers, students and around 400 audience members gathered in the auditorium of Taegu Foreign Language High School, a public boarding school in Daegu, for the second annual TFLHS English Play Festival July 6-7. In the festival, 18 plays - nine productions each for first- and second-year students - competed for trophies and prizes that were awarded by the school principal, Choi Sung-hwan.
First-year student Che Da-jeong remarked that the crowd made the performers nervous, especially because it was larger than expected.
“Even though I was prepared, I was very nervous,” she said. “The crowd was so big.”
Despite her nerves, Che delivered an excellent performance, which earned her the Best Actress award for her grade. She says that she has learned a lot from the experience.
“I learned some idioms and could practice my pronunciation,” Che said. “I also enjoyed the chance to improve my teamwork.”
The theater festival was started in 2009 by this writer and William Chiang, both English teachers, as a project and performance test for their English conversation classes. First-year students were given 10-minute scripts to perform, while second-year students, who participated in the festival last year, wrote and produced their own 10-minute plays. Chiang and this writer selected the top one or two productions from each class to compete in the festival. The students have been working on this project for the last three months.
Chiang, an American who has been teaching in Daegu for nearly four years, says that the two teachers conceived the festival as a way for students to develop their language, time management and cooperative skills in a group project, while also improving their confidence in English speaking.
Second-year students also “learned how to write dialogue and learned the flow of a play-the structure,” Chiang says.
Second-year student Hwang Su-in, who won the Best Actress award for her grade, noted the difference between acting in a play and writing her own play for performance.
“Last year we just got the scripts and followed along, but this year we could write what we want,” she explained. “It was our own play, so we could enjoy it more.”
First-year student Hong Jun-hyeok, who won Best Actor for his grade, said that the greatest reward an actor can receive is to communicate with an audience.
“Thinking about the crowd having fun because of me and my acting made me really proud of myself,” he says. “It made all the preparation meaningful.”
By Diana Ekelman Sung Contributing writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]