Japonya’nın Osaka şehrinde 2016 yılında yapılan “Uluslararası 5. Dil, Medya ve Kültür” (5th International Conference on Language, Medias and Culture” Konferansında aşağıdaki bildirim sunulmuş ve daha sonra International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics yani Uluslararası Dil, Edebiyat ve Dilbilim Dergisinde yayınlanmıştır (Ergenekon, Begümşen, 2016, IJLLL, Using films for writing reaction-response Essay: A Case Study of Turkish ESP Learners, Vol. 2 , July, DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL). Araştırmalarınızda ve sınıf içi çalışmalarında örnek olması dileğiyle.
USING FILMS FOR WRITING REACTION-RESPONSE ESSAY:
A CASE STUDY OF TURKISH ESP LEARNERS
Dr. Begümşen Ergenekon
Department of Modern Languages, School of Foreign Languages
Middle East Technical University, Ankara Turkey
email@example.com, + 90 532 4638404
ABSTRACT:The purpose of this study is to show how media films canfunction as authentic sources in teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to first year students to write reaction-response essays. The constructivist approach used in Modern Languages Department allows students to build new knowledge upon the foundation of the previous one. It assures them first to write for an authentic purpose, second for meaning and third to achieve goal oriented writing unconsciously. So this class-room action study consisted of pre-, while- and post-writing stages. The sample consisted of 19 first year students studying at Middle East Technical University. Results showed that watching acts coupled withlistening is an effective, truly learner centered and meaningful way of gathering, using and transferring knowledge in “writing reaction and response essays”. The task definitely engaged students intellectually and emotionally who wrote eagerly and creatively. And they also transfered this skill successfully in answering the reaction-response question in the final exam. So the author will demonstrate through a workshop how this task can be carried out in the ESP classroom to teach English as a second language.
Keywords: Films in writing for ESP, Films to React/Respondin ELT
Medium of instruction at Middle East Technical University (METU)is English.However, to make their first year students relatively advanced users of Englishfor ESPis not an easy task in a Turkish cultural environment for Modern Languages Department (MLD). To overcome this difficulty the first year curriculum requiresprocess writing paragraphs and essays in the expository and argumentative genres. Reaction-reponsetasks are held at paragraph and presentationlevel. Performing role plays, debates and panel discussions on current issues are also otherauthentic, content based and goal oriented traditional methods.Then how can thenthe difficult concepts of writing a reaction-response essay as“citing the source”, “content summary”, “thesis statement”, “controlling idea”, “topic sentence”, “agreeing-disagreeing partially or totally”, “acquiring evidence to accept and/or refute”, “unity and coherence”become attractive and enjoyable? It is at this point we can turn our attention to what media offers us such as pod-casts, videos, films. Of these, only pod-casts are used for listening-comprehension purposes.Also writing to react and respond does not go beyond paragraph writing.. Goffman (1977:61-66) suggests that for situations to be appropriate in the classroom taks should relate to students’ own lives. Also all tasks should be safely rooted in a social context because the rationale behind “adopting content-based instruction to meet ESL composition goals” is that it “develops thinking, researching, and writing skills needed for academic writing tasks... more realistically than...traditional instruction that isolates rhetorical patterns and stresses writing from personal experience” (Shih, 2012). So, a mixed section from all faculties of 19 first year, second semester studentswere assigned to watchNightcrawler (Gilroy, Dan (director) 2014, Summary: When Louis Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872718/).) currently shown at Ankara Cinemas. They were then askedto write their opinions about this film by reacting and responding. The task was carried out in pre-, while- and post- stages of “writing reaction and response” in essay format as the instructor designed task(IDT) allowed in the curriculum. Therefore the aim of this mini-study is to show how media films function as authentic, goal oriented but unconcious learning process while writing reaction-response essays for ESP.
The Constructivist Learning Theory is based on «teaching while producing» and «learning by doing» (Dewey, 1938; Ergenekon, 2012). This is experiential learning through direct experience (Kolb, 1984, Kolb et. al. 1999). According to Roberts (2012) it is an “increasingly popular pedagogical approach.” In this context Ferlazzo (2010) mentions that “Learning by doing” together with “building relationships, accessing prior knowledge through student stories, developing student leadership, and reflection” help “English language learners master both content and language using high-order language skills” for communicative purposes. This is also the very aim of Modern Languages Department in teaching writing. Sam states that in communicative approach “the learner is seen (...) as an active participant in the process of language learning in the classroom” so teachers using this approach have to “come up with activities that promote self-learning, authentic group interaction and peer teaching.” (1990). Furthermore communicative activities are methods that teach the target language by doing drills, tasks and projects. “The language-using activities for communication is not restricted to conversation” but “may involve listening, speaking, reading, writing or an integration of two or more skills (Sam, 1990). Fortunately reacting and responding to films combine all those skills that interact in this process. So composing implies room for imagination, linguistic creativity and use of appropriate situational language in the classroom. Movies bring “situations from real life into the classroom” (Doff, 1990:232).
Media, Films and Constructivism
The constructivist approach used inMLDcurriculum assures students to build new knowledge upon the foundation on the contents of the previous one. To write an expository essay, for instance, first a paragraphwriting is taught (Gülen, et.al, 2014; Güleç, et.al. 2015) followed by learning towrite an essaycomposed of instructor assigned articles. Traditionally, the content here functions as a means for learning the goal to write, regardless of its authenticity. On the other hand the curriculum has little room for media sources except pod-casts as mentioned. However films are reported to function also as authentic teaching materialsin the writing class-room (Hanım, 2014; Kılıçkaya, 2014).Kılıçkaya (2004) defines authenticityas “exposure to real language” not prepared for ELT instruction butin its original community and cultural content. He, also, states that such exposure increases learner motivation, provides authentic cultural information”, relates “more closely to students’ needs” and supports“a more creative approach to teaching”.
So the the primary question of this investigation workshop was “How can films be used to teach academic reaction-response essays?” followd further by secondary questions of (1) “How can teaching writing be authentic?” and (2) “How can graphic organizers be also used in writing reaction-response essay?”.
To achieve authenticity the following three approaches are also employed in this workshop: The strategic approach first succeeds in developing independent writing skills as Crawford mentionedin Hanım(2014). To ensure it(a) prior knowledge (b) making an outline (c) scaffholding by graphic organizers,(d) comparing film notes with peersand (e) writing for authentic purpose are used. Second,using the pragmatic approach the students areadvised to use language meaningfully for public to read,not for the teacher necessarily. Thus writingreaction-response essay became a social activity for students (Williams, 1989).For the third, cognitive approach used facilitated writing for a goal unconciously. Teachers must keep in mind that writing is an active and repetitive process where the students are using critical thinking skills. Therefore the instructor promted them to gather relevant information by watching the film, focus on the target audience while writing, revising and editing according to scaffolded instruction goals (Crawford 2004). Therefore using these approaches, students respectively wrote for an authentic purpose, for meaning and achieved goal oriented writing unconciously. In otherwords the urge to express their founded opinionson an involving film outshined learning the rules of writing a reaction-response essay. Reflecting on the content became a goal while learning writing techniques served as a means.
Students are first taught to write an informative paragraph by a diamond shaped organizational diagram. The topic sentence is followed by two supporting major sentences which have two more minor sentences containing examples. It then ends with a concluding sentence. (Gülen 2014:43-44, 51). Next skill taught is “writing a reaction-response paragraph”. This paragraph has a similar graphic organization but is somewhat different and more complicated than the former. The first sentence explains the author’s main idea followed by a topic sentence stating student’s opinion partially or totally for or against the author’s. Thereupon the student develops the paragraph listing his/her agreement and/or disagreement partially or totally, giving reasons/examples to support them (p.74-75). Then students are informed about the reaction-response essay writing workshop about the feature film Nightcrawler (2014).
Pre- writing stage: First, students are instructed on how they can convert a reaction-response paragraph into an essay. Then common aspects of an argumentative and reaction-response essay are explained: that they both have the traditional scaffolding of intruduction, body paragraphs and conclusion and that in both the writer has to take sides. While in the former, the thesis statement lists his/her pro-arguments and defends them; it should also mention the counter arguments to be refuted as irrelevant, incorrect and insufficient with supporting evidence (Gülcü et.al. 2015: 141-169). In the latter’s thesis statement the author should state either total or partial response/agreement and/or reaction/disagreement with the opinions in the original aphorysm, visual message, book or a film. The students who participated in the workshop had written an expository essay the first semester and had just written the They took notes and gave answers to pre-determined questions by the instructor while watching the film. Then one class-hour was assigned to discussions and note-comparing on the film. While-writing stage: Then students wrote an outline to write their essay as home assignment. The second hour they wrote their essays.
1. Students evaluation of the workshop.
2. Quantitative Results (Note taking, Outlines, essay, final exam question assessments).
3. Qualitative assessment (script analysis).
2. Literature Review
2.1 Perspectives of Writing and Speaking
Generally an author’s social identity, background knowledge, social interactions, who is addressed and objective determine the content and style of his/her writing. Writing in the the proper genre for the particular task is as important as the capacity to write properly in grammar and vocabulary (Hanım, 2014: 92). Yet writers also have various socio-cultural origins that are revealed by different patterns in the way they write (Grabe and Kaplan, 1996). Last but not the least writing is an active engagement in a thinking process. It is has practical and creative objectives. Its quality depends on “good or weak, expert or novice” skilled or unskilled writers (Hanım, 2014: 92). Pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing are stages of learning how to write and its genres are narration, description, exposition and argumentation. The methodology of oral expression and teaching conversation have several models. These are direct (need for accuracy), indirect (need for fluency) and combined approaches. The nature of oral communication depends on a learner’s character, motivation and the material used. Drama in second language learning heightens “self-esteem, motivation, spontaneity, increased capacity for empathy, and lowered sensitivity to rejection” (Stern, 1980). All these facilitate communication and provide an appropriate psycholinguistic climate for language learning (Sam (1990). Last but not the least such classroom action is an indirect method of teaching that motivate and engage students positively. On the other hand in terms of an ESL teacher’s perspectiveon discourse writing as opposed to formal writing, “any written information…needs to undergo a change to suit the conventions of spoken discourse” (Brown and Yule, (1983); Daniels, 2001). Similarly the properties of informal oral communication and its script should “use shorter sentences with less complex structures, acceptable grammar, informal and direct language, familiar and non-technical words, leave room for rephrasing and non-verbal utterences, grammatical connections to achieve coherence, variety in sentence length and use of specific pronouns” according to Duzan and Evrim (2014).
2.2. Similar Research
Role-plays are instruments used for a variety of purposes for groups of all ages in many disciplines such as art, education, medicine, law and science. For example in a study on 24 children (4-7 years) exploring “young children’s ability to contrast social roles through languageusing a technique of “controlled improvisation”; with puppets, each child play‐acted different roles in three specific settings: mother/father/child in a family home situation, doctor/nurse/ patient in a medical office, and teacher/student/foreign student in a children's classroom.” The findings suggested that from an early age (3 or 4 years) children are aware of a broad range of social variation and are sensitive to the linguistic means of encoding this variation. The children in this study made subtle distinctions among types and forms of speech acts and select topics, sentence structures, lexical items, and phonological features including pitch, intonation, volume, rate and voice quality to “fit”; the different roles in their sociolinguistic repertoire (Taylor and Francis, 2009) .In another longitudinal research the focus was on “social action in the language learning classroom” by giving promts. Therefore the “analysis of 25 disengagement sequences (shifting from task oriented dialogue to communication of general issues between students) from teacher-assigned dyadic task interactions”from beginner to more advanced dialogues in different social classroom settings showed that disengaging with teacher promted task in class to receive appreciation from fellow class mates by “thanking them” also played a role in improving diaologue skills in ESL. Similarly writing texts for oral communication are not passive activities but “productive skills” compared to “receptive-interpretative” listening and reading skills. So teachers may advise students to write notes that should aid students’oral discourse but all scripts must be checked and performances be graded by the teacher (Hanim, 2014). Besides, the teacher has a role as the director of role-plays and should be involved in the class activity by “circulating in the group, providing prompts, helping where needed, and observing and assessing language use (Richard-Amato, 1996).
Data was collected through the process approach method as follows. In this context processes of script writing and speaking through role playing as end products were equally important (Caudery, 1995).
1. Assessment of dialogue scripts,
2. Assessment of role-plays,
3. Student questionnaires assesing their learning experience.
This research is a lesson done by the researcher in four different sections of second year diploma students. A total of 40 (17F, 23M) students1 were chosen from 4 oral academic speaking classes that the researcherinstructed. Besides the main goal of teaching academic presentation skillsstudents were taught to make debates, panel discussions and/orrole plays. The objective ofthis research istherefore to demonstrate the utilityof roleplayingthat combinewriting and speaking skills that stood as a minorandworse asoptional activity in the curriculum.
3.2 Research Framework
In this research role promts functioned as instructional feedback“involving a stituation in which a setting, participants and goal problem are described” (Richards, 1985). Writing must be “authentic to be meaningful and fun for students to learn” (Hanim, 2014: 99) so must speaking be. Therole-play themes used in this research for students related to use and abuse of information technologies are meant to be meaningful and authentic. The research was carried out in three lessons.
Lesson I:Identifying Contexts for Role Plays
(a) Students werefirst given six role-play prompts(Duzan and Yalçın, 2014:103-104).They revolved aroundvarious relationship problems that resulted from information technology overload and the consequences suffered as a result.The characters and social contexts for each role-play were defined as follows:
• Close Friends: Two close friends go to a party. “A” uploads all photos taken on face book where it shows them drinking. But “B’s” parents see these pictures. Upset,B goes to A asking that pictures be removed but gets a negative answer because it conflicts with B’s privacy. After B’s further pleading A removes pictures from her facebook.
• Husband & Wife: Wife feels excluded because her husband is constantly immersed in his Iphone. She wants to spend more time with him chatting, watching movies,etc. The Husband finds it relaxing and tries to assure his wife that he can maintain a balance between the two.
• Father & Son: Father enters his son’s facebook and finds out that he has a relationship with a much older girl. He tells his 14 year old son to stop that relationship and concentrate on his studies. The son first objects but then agrees to do as his father says.
• Employer & Employee: The Employer has caught the employer surfing the web several times and gives him a final warning that he will be dismissed if he does not put an end to this bad habit. Even though the employee feels he has not failed in fullfilling his duties, he apologizes and promises to be careful about that matter.
• Grandmother & Granddaughter: Grandma is lonely at home after all her children and grand children have moved to other cities. She wants to learn how to use the internet so that she can communicate with her family but the granddaughter does not have the patience.
• Celebrity and Celebrity Manager: The celebrity and celebrity manager are quarrelling over a harsh tweet sent to another celebrity. It ends when the celebrity agrees to apologize if the other party apologizes first.
(b) Pre-performance stage: Students were organized in pairs, assigned a plotand asked to understand the task. Here teacher guidance was used helping students to construct mind maps to imagine their roles in the “hypothetical situation” (Venugopal, 1986) and find a sollution by discussion with their partners and to draft dialogue notes before they were asked to write scripts.
Lesson II: Timing and Script Writing
(c) Students were allowed 5-7 minutes where both partners had to exchange equal number of lines beforewritingtheir play scripts. They were reminded that in such tasks any kind of written information “needs to undergo a change to suit the conventions of spoken discourse” (Brown and Yule, 1983 and Daniels, 2001). This is because, compared to writing, speaking is quite a different and unique mode of expression with its own grammar, style and vocabulary. This requires the adaption of written dialogues to oral discourse strategies. Namely using relatively shorter and less complex sentences, acceptable grammar, transitions and signposts for coherence. Second, more informal and direct language such as active voice, contractions, occasional fragments and personal pronouns are necessary. Third, familiar and non-technical vocabulary must be used. Fourth each social context requires repetition, rephrasing and emphasis where pausing is important and rhetorical questions are more common. Finally a vivid and colloquil tone must be used while keeping within the scope of the simulated task. Finally ambiguous words are undesirable and use of offensive languge such as sexist, racist, etc are not acceptable (Brown and Yule 1983, Daniels (2001).
(d) Rehearsal: Partners were asked to rehearse outside class hours
(e) Submission of play scripts and performing role plays
Each students pair gave a copy of their play scripts then performed their role play tasks. Compatibilty between written and oral discourses are observed and perfomances are graded.
This phase consisted of two steps to analyze further the given task
• Giving feed back to students by grading their play scripts.
• Getting feedback from students on how they liked script writing and role playing as a ESL learning strategy through discussions and answering questionnaries.
The data are obtained from 40 student (Females 42.5 % and Males 57.5 %) performances, play script assessments and questionnaires. Compatibility between plays scripts and role plays were indicated as a plus ‘+’ or minus “-“.
4.1. Play Script Assessment of levels of quality focused on purposein elaborating, thoughts feelings and context of characters effectively, contentin revealing the central idea of conflict and its solution, andlanguagein displaying conventions of spoken discourse and organization (Duzan and Yalçın, 2014). The quantiative rating of script plays were as follows: Excellent 2.5 % (N=1), Good 70 % (N=28), Average: 27.5 % (N=11).
4.2. Role Play Assessment of levels of quality focused ontask fullfilmentby developing the task fully by arguments and view points consistent with play script and always making timely and appropriate remarks to generate discussion. Then delievery and style always using appropriate tone of voice, gestures and eye contact, speaking fluentlyresponding respectfully and listening attentively. Finallylanguage using correct grammar, vocabulary, intonation and pronunciation (Duzan and Yalçın, 2014). The quantitative rating of student performances were as follows:
Excellent: 10 % (N=4), Good: 75 % (N=30), Average: 15 % (N=6).
Rankings of Below Average and Poor did not exist.
4.3. Compatibility 85 % of role plays were quite compatible with play scripts while 15 % deviated from them more or less. This however did not jeopardize task fullfilment but stood as another positive aspect of the dramatising task.
4.4. Questionnaire Assessment: Student opinions wereaskedabout the use of script writing as a basis for conversational proficiency and uthenticityof role play themes: 4.4.1. All agreed that discourse writing was less difficult and more fun than writing formal presentation scripts: “It improved their vocabulary and writing skills and gave them an opportunity to write conversational English.”
4.4.2. While 65 % of students found writing a play script as a creative activity enforcing imagination while 25 % foundit somewhat difficult.
4.4.3. Ninetysix percent of students stated that writing play scripts helped performing their role plays. Only 4 % said they could improvise without a play script.
4.4.4. About role play themes students unanimously stated the information technologiy issue to be authentic and concerned every one of them.
4.4.5. All stated that theme familiarity made it easier to remember and improvise when they forgot their lines. Thismade script writing, rehearsing and performing easy. Their fluency, intonationimproved. They conciously listened to and understood what was said.
4.4.6. About role play as a social training task,93 % stated that they enjoyed pair work while 6 % were ether not happy with their partners or were shy. Yet they agreed that their experience in the conflict resolution could be transfered to solve future problems.
To summarize students enjoyed learning English as a Second language with such an activity and wanted more of such activities.
The findings indicate that play scripts stimulate conversational proficiency. An overwhelming majority of students have shown an achievement rate between “excellent and good” level of ability in purpose, content and language fulfillmentin doing script writing. On the other hand the dialogue performances are even better placing 85 % of the students between “excellent and good” level of ability. Similar research results also indicate that play scripts are active learning activites in ESL that stimulate conversational proficency and authenticiy. This is because role plays dealing with current issues reflect real social situations. Therefore complex and structured problem solving drama tasks necessitate authentic and goal oriented script writing. This activity in return stimulates dialogue performances.
The pedagogical implications of role plays are a serious one. It uses the constructive and communicative approaches for experiential learning creating plays scripts and crafting dialogues. The task activates and involves students and transfers them from passive to active learners. It lifts the teaching responsibility from the shoulders of the teacher and puts it on the students’. In doing thestudents do not merely obey teacher’s authority to learn reluctantlybut rather cooperate with the instructorwillingly. During this activity roles change in the class room as ESL teacher “learns” from students while they their plays. Cleverly chosen authentic role play themes help students to relate their languages to everyday situations. Alsorole plays are one of those classroom activities which make learning of discourse-writing and speaking an unconcious and entertaining task for students. Last but not the least roleplayshelp overcome linguistic and cultural barriers of teaching and learning English as a foreign language in a Turkish environment.
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