Using film making and drama in Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language

on 24th November 2017 a group of teachers (primary and secondary), a local authority advisory teacher, some university educational researchers and some film making students spent the day together with Dr Katja Frimberger to learn more about how film making and drama techniques can be used to explore issues of language, identity and belonging with our school community. The day was part of a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council  AH/R004/781/1.


The day was divided into three sections and involved i) sharing teachers experience of practice in schools, ii) taking part in activities Katja has used in her work with children and young people in Glasgow so that teachers gain their first experience of them and iii) planning how the activities experienced can be adapted and developed for use in new school contexts.


 Our Current Practices 


  • Lois Francis (Integra South Gloucestershire Schools) reminded school colleagues that school budgets have distinct allocations for children whose “first language” as identified for the school census is a language other than English.



  • We heard about the drama work of Anna Comfort, a teacher at St. Micheal’s on the Mount Primary School. You can watch how Anna uses drama with groups of young learners of EAL to develop language and confidence here – access to the video using the password ‘magic’.


  • Maryam Almohammad shared the work of the UNHCR with the use of cartoons to convey refugees’ stories.



Katja Frimberger’s Film Making and Drama Activities 


Activity 1: How to make film clips –  Using the children’s own language

Katja showed the teachers her  documentary entitled ‘Speaking your Language’. Then, she explained how the film can be adapted with school children. For example, a film can be made showing the children using their language (in speech and also singing if they wish) and saying why their language matters to them. They could explain this in English as well. The film can be used by the school community as an opportunity to match the language with the clip – gaining first hand experience of hearing a language other than English.



Activity 2: The bustling marketplace – in a circle everyone says a greeting in a language of their choice and the group repeats back each greeting. Going round the circle again everyone offers a gesture to go with their greeting – each gesture and greeting are repeated. Everyone moves around the room using their own greeting and gesture and using their partner’s greeting and gesture back to them.


Activity 3: “Bristol’s got talent”- in small groups one learner teachers everyone else a simple song other than English and the group performs it to the rest of the class. The whole class can agree on some criteria and then vote on the “best” performance.


Activity 4: Schools teachers can map their school community languages and experiences using a free resource called ‘ZeeMaps‘.


3. Using Katja’s Ideas in School Settings 


Teachers, consultants and researchers generated a range of ideas on the day which can be implemented in school, these included:

  • Introducing a ‘language of the month’ into tutor time in a secondary school to raise the profile of the languages present in the school community;


  • Integrating songs in a variety of languages into school performances e.g. a Christmas show and at other times of the year;


  • Inviting children from our schools (perhaps where there are a low number of children developing EAL) to after school clubs which have a focus on art, language and confidence building for children developing EAL;


  • Linking work raising the profile of languages and cultures with other agendas e.g. Fundamental British Values and achieving the Rights Respecting Schools award promoted by the Unicef.


Some of the teachers who attended this workshop created their film ideas with their students and filmed it. For more news on the progress of our project, please follow us. Some of these films will be featured on our English as an Additional Language and Creativity Conference 2018.


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