A Study of Using Drama to Reduce EFL Learners’ Speaking Anxiety

Jing-yi Song & Hsiao-tzu Yang, National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, ID CLEaR2017-417;        Abstract: The study aims to investigate to what extent drama may reduce university students’ speaking anxiety. While earlier studies have found that drama practice can help learners to improve their spoken English (Fahami, 2014; Stinson, 2015), very few examine difficulties learners encounter in the drama practice process, not to mention research conducted with Taiwanese learners of English. Accordingly, this study investigates how Taiwanese learners overcome their speaking anxiety in a drama class. Thirty-eight participants enrolled in the drama class offered at a national technological university in central Taiwan. Seventeen students majored in English, whereas twenty-one students came from other departments. At the beginning of the semester, students were asked to fill out two questionnaires to explore their English speaking difficulty and anxiety. After fifteen weeks of speaking and singing practices and rehearsals, the drama was eventually performed on the stage. Then, the students’ post-instruction speaking anxiety was compared with their pre-instruction anxiety. In addition, six of the participants were interviewed to better understand their learning processes. The results indicate that most of them encountered difficulty in pronouncing unfamiliar words used in their drama performance. They also tended to feel anxious in public-speaking situations. However, they replied that the rehearsal practices were helpful to improve their pronunciation proficiency. Not only did they feel encouraged in class to enhance their public speaking skills, but they also found the drama practices helpful in their everyday conversation with others. Moreover, all of them would like to take drama-related courses in the future. The detailed findings will be given at the conference.

Keywords: Speaking anxiety, speaking difficulty, drama