How does doing theater develop your Spanish?

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By Georgina Palencia

Lee este artículo en español.

Our school, Spanish Perfecto, offers an interesting course: Teather and Spanish. A few days ago, I was talking with one of the participants. He told me something that motivated me even more to write this blog.

The student said: “When I am in the theater course, I do not realize that I speak Spanish. I only speak. Now, I am thinking about the content of the course, if I am in a theoretical part. I am thinking about my character, his experiences, his emotions and feelings, his dialogue. It seems that it is the first time I am thinking in Spanish and without thinking in Spanish”

Wow! Thinking in Spanish versus no thinking in Spanish. I listened attentively and was deeply satisfied, confirming that our immersion course offerings take our students to a different learning experience and make them take a long leap in their progress.

Indeed, our immersion courses do not take students to Spanish-speaking countries. However,  these courses take them to a new stage of Spanish. Here, distraction and entertainment, due to the nature of the courses, also distracts them from being focused on the language system, and then switching to using Spanish without realizing it. And that’s the idea.

But not only that, that same student, after a few more weeks practicing, wrote me a text message:

“The last few weeks, I have found myself speaking to myself in Spanish at work and in my dreams… Oh no!”

My only answer was: EXCELLENT.

That “Oh no! ” is for sure a funny expression to say that he is going crazy. But what do you guys think? Because I believe he is becoming a Spanish speaker, not a native one, it is true, but he is fluent.

I already wrote in another article how by cooking, you learn different vocabulary and Spanish grammar structures in an immersive way. Here I am going to tell you what the focus of the theater is. You already know that, beyond the linguistic goal, it is the psycholinguistic goal that we pursue, the use of the language without thinking about it.

The theater practice has many benefits, both for the native and a foreign language speaker. I would say it brings more benefits for non-native Spanish students.

Spanish students who are encouraged to practice acquire better pronunciation and prosodic features: intonation, rhythm, pause, and speed. Those are features typical of the language they are learning, in this case, Spanish. Besides, they practice it for different characters and contexts (as a child, young man, senior, weak, a strong, intellectual).

It ends up being not an exercise but a domain.

They learn projection. Have you noticed that when you speak another language and do not feel safe you practice in low volume and without projecting? Well, they practice projection.

Have you also noticed that role play is a recurring activity in language classes? Using theater as the practice is even better than typical classroom role play because it also emphasizes body language, non-verbal language, developing emotions, and building relationships – interaction.

Naturally, they also learn a little about the history, theory, genre, and theater styles. Although it may seem this content and the vocabulary contained may be of little use. With this content, the student exercises the strategies of definition, description, opinion, and argumentation. So, it expands its list of adjectives, connectors, and structures: I would believe, I do not think, it is important …

Between the expression of events in the indicative mode, which is the first one students learn in class, and the subjunctive mode, which is the one in which they begin at the intermediate levels to express the most subjective world, there is an imaginary world. The subjunctive is a world of non-existence, where the linguistic structures are mixed. It is the state of creative freedom, and that is the world of theater.

Through the world of theatrical representation, between objects that acquire another meaning,  makeup,  games,   different personalities, what is more important,  is that he sees how his fluency and ease, his security, evolves and therefore feels more confident using Spanish.

Do you know as children or adolescents, well, and even as adults, when we are concerned about having that so-called stage fright, which is the fear of speaking in public with our mother tongue, the recommendation of the teachers is: take a theater course? Well, this is our recommendation for you to open up to speak in Spanish. Take our theater course.🎭

See you!

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