Theatre production as a language learning environment for Chinese students

Michelle Reyes RAQUEL, Hong Kong Institute of Education

Copyright © 2011 Hong Kong Drama/Theatre and Education Forum Limited, Hong Kong


Research has shown that theatre can be used as a tool for English as a second language (ESL) learning in various contexts. However, ESL studies done in Hong Kong have shown that sociocultural factors impact on language learning. I argue that this implies that sociocultural factors could also have a significant impact on language learning in the context of the process of rehearsal for a theatre production. This paper reports the results of a pilot study on Chinese tertiary students involved in preparing a theatre production. Adopting a Vygotskian sociocultural perspective, the study draws on analysis of qualitative data. It aims to answer two research questions: (1) What sociocultural factors shape the experience of English theatre productions in Hong Kong as a language learning environment?; and (2) Are theatre productions good language learning environments in Hong Kong? The results revealed that prior to production, students’ sociocultural background were similar to what other studies have already concluded. This sociocultural background has had an impact on the learning environment in that students were predisposed to explicit instruction in the environment as learning outcomes of the experience. These indicate that theatre productions provided students with multiple learning opportunities, which makes it an appropriate language learning environment.