Multilingual Drama in Schools – a new project!

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities’ Multilingual Drama project is now up and running! Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council the project is supervised by Oxford German Network director Katrin Kohl and planned, conducted, and evaluated by me, Ben Schaper.

The project is designed to enhance knowledge exchange between the University and its wider cultural context and provide an educational opportunity for young people interested in drama and languages. The project is based on the belief that drama provides a valuable educational medium in itself and that it interconnects excitingly with multilingualism, opening up spaces for articulating personal identity in new ways and providing an opportunity to experiment with language skills in stimulating ways.

The project aims to develop closer ties with local Oxfordshire schools, link them with local cultural institutions – especially theatres and arts centres – and provide a case study collaborative project for engagement between researchers, teachers, and performers.

So far we have established close ties with both the Oxford Playhouse and the North Wall Theatre. We are particularly pleased that both have also offered collaborations in the future so that the project will have a sustainable impact beyond its four month timeframe. The schools’ projects are shaping up very nicely. Most excitingly, a huge majority of schools are keen to produce their own adaptations or even completely original scripts. The variety of ideas goes from adapting Grimms’ fairytales to writing and workshopping narratives such as a travel idea that will enable the pupils to integrate as many languages as possible. At the moment we have at least six different languages involved and are still working on the fantastic prospect of involving some non-taught community languages.

At the end of April the first of two planned workshops will be held at the Oxford Playhouse. The Playhouse’s Participation Programme Leader Mezze Eade will provide the teachers with practical skills to teach theatre with a special focus on language acquisition. The second workshop will be held at the Playhouse in a month’s time and will get the teachers together to reflect on the process and give us a push for the last weeks until the final performances in June. We are aiming to create print as well as audio-visual materials that can be used in the future, and will be made available online.

The existing basis of the OGN proved very useful for getting this project going quickly and efficiently: of the eleven participating schools ten are OGN regulars from both the state and independent sector. Furthermore, we are very happy to have won the passionate and ambitious teachers from the Europa School in Culham as additional participants in the project.

Ben Schaper, OGN Graduate Assistant

If you want to find out more about the project and getting involved, you can contact Ben via email: ben.schaper@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk

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