Preservice Teachers' Observations about Theatre as a Teaching Tool for English Language Learners
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This research reveals preservice teachers? observations of their own experiences and their English Language Learners? (ELL) experiences while performing in a full-scale, bilingual production of Peter Pan the Musical in Italy. Though existing research supports the use of theatre in language learning, there is still very little research on the role of theatre for additional language learning. The findings answer two questions. Based on preservice teachers? perspectives, how did participating in Peter Pan the Musical affect ELLs? development of English? And, how did participating in Peter Pan the Musical affect preservice teachers? empathy for ELLs? The 10 participants in the study were preservice teachers participating in the Texas A&M University Italy Education Study Abroad Program during the spring semester of 2014. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews before, during, and after the semester abroad, and through journal entries. Analysis of the data revealed six common themes in the participants? observations: 1) English language learning was enhanced through the development of close relationships with preservice teachers, English immersion, songs, dances, and lines; 2) preservice teachers? empathy for ELLs increased while performing in Italian and interacting with ELLs; 3) motivation to perform for an audience was high; 4) theatre made learning fun; 5) positive attitudes already existed towards theatre; and 6) there are potential drawbacks to the use of theatre in ELL instruction.