12 September 2011

Using Dramatic Role-Play to Develop Emotional Aptitude

 Using Dramatic Role-Play to Develop Emotional Aptitude
Universidad de Valencia
As university educators, we need to prepare students for the transition from the information age to what Daniel H. Pink (2005) calls the conceptual age, which is governed by artistry, empathy and emotion, by including in the curricula activities that stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. This can be done by promoting activities that energize what Daniel Goleman (1995) refers to as emotional intelligence, and it further maintains that, as Paul Ekman (2003) suggests, the ability to detect feelings improves communication. Recognizing the need to include in the curricula procedures that help develop students’ right brain aptitudes and enhance their communication skills, I have endeavoured to introduce dramatic scene study as a sustained activity in my English for Specific Purposes courses at the Universidad de Valencia. My aim was to energize the students’ creative and emotional aptitudes, as well as to dynamize effective teamwork. This article sustains that dramatic role-play, based on scripted scene study and related improvisational activities, is one way of achieving this. 

 Using Dramatic Role-Play to Develop Emotional Aptitude  
*Address for correspondence: Russell DiNapoli. Departamento de Filología Inglesa y Alemana, Facultad de Filología, Traducción y Comunicación, Universidad de Valencia, Avenida Blasco Ibáñez, 32, 46010 Valencia, Spain. E-mail: dinapoli@uv.es
© Servicio de Publicaciones. Universidad de Murcia. All rights reserved. IJES, vol. 9 (2), 2009, pp. 97-110

 Using Dramatic Role-Play to Develop Emotional Aptitude
Ever since Roger W. Sperry won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981 for his research into the right and left hemispheres of the brain, the notion of right-brain centred intelligence has undergone a reassessment. Pink (2005: 51) sustains that we are moving away from the age of information and entering a whole new era, a conceptual age in which emotional, left-brain focused behaviour is measured on a par with cognitive, right-brain stimulated action. He suggests that university graduates today must be equipped with “high concept and high touch” know-how skills that allow them creatively to combine apparently dissimilar ideas in innovative ways, and he further observes that this may be one reason why increasingly more companies are hiring people with art studies in their university curriculum, pointing out that there has been a significant increase in the number of Master of Fine Art degrees programs in the United States as a result (p. 86).

 Using Dramatic Role-Play to Develop Emotional Aptitude   
This article holds that both right and left brain thinking are indispensable to second language acquisition, and that an effective L2 learning methodology needs to take this into account. It is suggested that drama is one way of balancing the cognitive and affective attributes of genuine communication. The article also maintains that activities based on getting students to react instinctively to others in emotional circumstances can stimulate learner creativity, communal awareness and personal growth.
The trouble with the process of learning another language in the current Spanish college setting is that the classroom environment often decontextualizes language for the sake of streamlining the learning process. As a result, verbal act meaning is commonly linked exclusively to left-brain centred components, such as grammar, syntax, vocabulary, pronunciation and functional aspects.

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