Creating theatre in Hong Kong : transforming students’ perceptions of English learning

Michelle Reyes RAQUEL, Hong Kong Institute of Education and University of Tasmania, Australia
Sivanes PHILLIPSON, Hong Kong Baptist University

Copyright © LSC-2011.


This study explored the influence of socially constructed learning concepts of 23 tertiary Hong Kong ESL students in a theatre production. To facilitate this exploration, this paper identified the socially constructed learning concepts that influenced second language learning of Chinese students in a Hong Kong tertiary institution, and investigated whether these concepts were enhanced in any way in this unique learning environment. Reflective journals, pre and postproduction in-depth interviews and questionnaires were used to collect data before, during and after the theatre production. The two directors and four students (two from the cast and two from the production team) completed the journals. The pre-production questionnaire and interview aimed to identify students’ educational background, learning strategies and motivations before exposure to the learning environment. The postproduction questionnaire and interview aimed to determine perceived learning outcomes. It was found that students were motivated by the excitement of theatre performance and the prospect of learning English. Students became more self-regulated, disciplined and motivated – where they showed higher levels of self-confidence, as the theatre production gave them a meaningful and successful experience whilst implicitly learning a language. This study hence, showed that the learning environment of theatre productions enhanced existing concepts of learning (use of surface and deep learning strategies) in a low stakes, second language environment that encourages students to enjoy learning for themselves.