Innovative professional learning – using drama to teach Chinese

On 15 October Dulwich College Beijing invited famous actress and Professor at Peking University Opera Research Institute, Ms Shelly Zhou, to the College to lead workshops on the application of drama skills to enhance Chinese language learning.

Fifty-nine teachers from fourteen different international schools across the region attended the six-hour training session. Mr Herbert, the Headmaster of Dulwich College Beijing, came to experience the training and gave the opening speech. He emphasised the importance of the connection between drama and language learning. Annabel Parker, the Director of Mandarin for Dulwich College International, also attended the event.

Shelly Zhou's training session was interesting and inspiring. She engaged the teachers in group work that required a great deal of teamwork and set performance challenges. To finish the training session, each group put on costumes and used props to perform a scene from Thunderstorm - with fabulous results.

During the training, groups of teachers worked on the dramatic piece Fen Ma. Teachers used this piece to explore using drama skills to learn expository texts. This particular exercise brought the correlation between teaching and drama to life.

This professional learning exercise demonstrated a breakthrough in the method of teaching Chinese and helped staff prepare for Dulwich College Beijing’s Chinese drama performance in March.

This session enabled Chinese teachers to explore the use of drama as a way to express thoughts, concepts and feelings. Most importantly, they were able to recognise that employing particular dramatic techniques could help to engage students in their learning, and enhance their understanding and enjoyment of Mandarin.