Data Obtained From Reflective Journals English Language Essay

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When the answers given to the questions after each session were evaluated, it was concluded that all of the participants answered the question What did you learn in this lesson. through a topic based understanding. In other words, they focused on the content of the session rather than the linguistic objectives. For instance, from a session, whose topic is communication, some of the sentences that participants wrote in their journals are below.

'Eye contact is very important in effective communication.'

'If you want to be understood, you need to understand first.'

'Body language is very important.'

These comments indicate that content of the session gains priority for the participants, which makes the learning more meaningful. This finding corresponds UlaÅŸ's (2008) explanation of learning principles, one of which claims that a student learns a meaningful content better than other contents. Apart from the focus on the content of the sessions, some learners also commented on the linguistic features of the session. For instance,

'I've learnt new words.'

'I can talk about communication.'

'I've learnt new expressions.'

'I can make longer sentences.'

All of the participants answered the question "What did you feel in this session?", and they all expressed their pleasure. Most of them expressed their feelings about the session as:

"I enjoyed very much."

"It was a funny English lesson."

"I never felt bored."

'I felt more confident because I could express my opinions.'

"It was very interesting.'

'I had great fun, it was amazing.'

On the other hand, it was seen that most of the comments gathered around the feeling of anxiety, fear of making mistakes, or inability to express the ideas when their notes after the first session were analyzed. To illustrate the following sentences were taken from the learners' journals.

'I felt nervous because I had to speak English without any preparation.'

'I knew what to say in Turkish but when it was time for speaking English I felt very excited. I did not know what to say. But I feel I will get used to it.'

'I felt scared, because I did not know what to say.'

'I was anxious, because I didn't want to say something wrong.'

'I couldn't remember the words so I felt unsuccessful.'

'I was a bit nervous because I haven't done such a thing before.'

'I felt very nervous, because I was afraid of making mistakes.'

However, there is a significant difference between those comments and the ones written after the last session. Some of the phrases from their journals after the last session were:

'I feel I can improve my English in this way.'

'It is very good. I can communicate with others and express myself.'

'I was so shy to speak in public but now I feel confident.'

'I became very happy. I realized I can speak more comfortably.'

'The creative drama workshop is a funny place where we can express our opinions and support each other. It makes us speak English and we learn new words.'

'I feel confident.'

'It has been a very effective activity to improve my speaking skill. I was always enthusiastic to attend the lesson. I realized I didn't know enough vocabulary to express my opinions. But this activity helped me learn new words.'

'I had to speak English during the activities, which improved my English.'

'Although I can't speak English very well I've realized I can survive in difficult situations.'

'It is really effective because we gain the ability to speak without any preparation. It also improves the way we think.'

'I have been in a great excitement since the first session. I think, creative drama gives people courage and confidence. But at the same time it gives the fear of making mistakes.'

The positive difference between learners' comments after the first session and the last one create a correspondence between the current study and SaÄŸlamel's study. SaÄŸlamel (2009) states that in the light of the findings of his study, creative drama activities are definitely useful to lower the language anxiety level of students. Moreover, learners' answers to this question reveal a similarity with AldaÄŸ (2010) and Saraç (2007)'s findings. They both observed that speaking skill of the participants gradually increased towards the end of the research implementation, which is also true for the current study.

Most of the students said "Yes" as an answer to the question that "Was it different for you from the other English lessons?" They presented answers as:

"It was very different."

"I had never played such games before."

''I was active during the lesson."

"It was different, because I didn't only listen and write down the unknown words.'

"Because sitting on desks, writing down unknown words and memorizing them are very boring and in this method we didn't do any of them."

"We learned while playing."

"We played lots of different games."

As it was concluded in Saraç's (2007) study, learners did not write any negative comments for this question. The reason for this might be the nature of the creative drama itself which is appealing for kids for being kinaesthetic, imaginary and process-oriented, that causes less negative psychological affect on children.

Learners' answers to the questionnaire after treatment showed that they felt more relaxed and were not afraid of making mistakes while speaking English. Kılıç (2009) stated that this may be because of the power of creative drama to help learners gain self-confidence during creative drama activities.

To the question 'Which three words would you choose to describe this session?', learners responded with those words.

'Fun, creativity, participation.'

'Teaching, calming, applicable.'

'Fun, creative, beneficial.'

'Improving, fun, creative.'

'Improvisation, quick, shiny.'

'Spacious, bright, comfort.'

'Fun, effective, collaborative.'

'Spacious, tidy, friendly.'

'Energy, fun, relaxing.'

From these words written for describing the session they attended, it can be concluded that the common view among the learners is that the creative drama sessions awake a positive image in the learners' minds. This is one of the important conditions to take into consideration in order to lower the affective filter of the learner and consequently let the acquisition take place. (Krashen and Terrel, as cited in Shand, 2008).

Another guideline question was 'Do you think you could express yourself in English?' Participants' answers to this question are:

'Yes, especially while talking about cities.'

'Yes, during improvisation because I was comfortable.'

'Yes, with the help of visual materials I was able to express my ideas more easily.'

'I felt very comfortable although I did some grammar mistakes.'

'In the improvisation activity, I could express myself. Because it wasn't planned beforehand and I could tell what I want at that moment.'

These answers indicate that creative drama not only develops a positive self-esteem but also as Şamlıoğlu and Karakuş (2008) states that it assures self-confidence and personal development.

All of the students responded positively to the question 'Would you like to have more creative drama activities in English lessons? Why?'. They stated,

'I would like to have more creative drama lessons because it is enjoyable and we can talk English more. We can learn better when we enjoy.'

'Yes, I would. Because it improves our speaking and I am not bored. I wish our teachers teach other lessons like that, too!'

'We are having fun and learning new things.'

'I am looking forward to having more creative drama activities.'

'Because the lessons improve our skills and make us happy in the end.'

'I feel so good. At least this activity is better than learning grammar. Grammar lessons are so boring!'

'Drama lessons give us the chance of communication, speaking practice. In this way we express ourselves and realise our mistakes.'

'It improves my speaking ability.'

'It improves our creativity and speaking. I have to speak more and improve my speaking skill.'

'Every lesson is getting more exciting. It teaches important thing without making me bored.

'It shows the spontaneity of the language.'

'I believe there will be more creative ideas if we continue having more creative drama lessons.'

'If a person doesn't like learning English, his/her ideas can change with the help of creative drama.'

In the light of those comments above it is no exaggeration to claim that learners are enthusiastic and eager to attend more creative sessions. It can be concluded from those findings that they developed a more positive attitude at the end of the study compared to the beginning.

3.2.3 Discussion of the data obtained from student interviews

Two students interviewed indicated that they thought drama was helpful with learning English. When asked why it was helpful, both of them mentioned that one of the reasons was being funny. They enthusiastically stated they would want to participate in a drama class again. They all explained that they learned a lot while having fun.

When they were asked 'Were the creative drama sessions beneficial for you?', they gave positive answers. To illustrate;

'Definitely. Both from the aspect of speaking English and establishing good relations with my friends. It enabled me to say what I think directly. Since the topics we studied were funny and interesting for us, I didn't have to think what to say but how to say. Also, I felt we are getting closer as friends. Because we work with different people in different groups so we learn much more about each other.'

When they were asked to compare the lessons in the classroom and creative drama lessons, they stated various things. For instance;

'Creative drama lessons are more intense. We are limited in the classroom. In creative drama lessons we are always active. We make use of our body. For example, I wasn't a kind of person who uses gestures but I do now. Because I have to do so while I am acting.'

'Everybody is more anxious in the classroom.'

Another question asked in the interview was 'What would happen if these lessons continued?' Learners stated their expectations like;

'I am sure I would be speaking English better.'

'I expect gaining more chances of speaking English. Theory and practice are totally different. We are learning grammar but if we don't use the language, we always need to revise. So creative drama gives us the chance of practising what we have studied in the classroom.'

3.2.4 Discussion of the data obtained from the observer's notes

In order to eliminate researcher bias, an English teacher working at the same school was invited to observe one of the sessions. The observer looked into the classroom context in general. She expressed her observations with these sentences:

'The teacher uses drama activities to develop speaking and listening skills of the students. These activities enhance the meta-language and attention of the students. Also, the teacher makes students evaluate the activities, which I find useful for reflection. The general observation of the students is positive for drama activities. Classroom context mode comes close to 'everyday communication'.

The turn taking is almost entirely managed by the learners. Extended learner turns predominate as participants co-construct the discourse. Error correction is minimal. The orientation is towards maintaining genuine communication rather than displaying linguistic knowledge. The teacher and learners adjust their use of language according to the task in which they are involved. Learners have considerable freedom as to what to say and when. The topic based process where learners select and develop a topic, is significant in maximizing learning potential since whatever is developed by the learners rather than the teacher has a better chance of being claimed to have been learnt.'

Because the data from reflective journals and interviews belonged to the learners, it was believed that including someone who had a profession in English language teaching would increase the reliability of the study. Like reflective journals and interviews, the observer's comments also indicated that creative drama has positive effects on learners' speaking.

IV.CONCLUSION

4.1 Restatement of the problem

The aim of this study was to demonstrate whether creative drama activities help intermediate level high school students develop a positive attitude towards speaking English in state high schools.

4.2 Implications

This study focused on whether creative drama activities can achieve the enhancement of positive attitude towards speaking English. The findings prove that creative drama can be successfully implemented in EFL classes and drama activities help learners develop a positive attitude towards speaking English. The findings support results from other studies. Most of the students were motivated by creative drama because they perceived it as a fun activity. And creative drama activities provided the students with small successes that built confidence in their abilities to communicate in English. Creative drama provides opportunities to practice speaking skills, and it provides the meaningful and comprehensible input necessary for English language learners to successfully acquire English.

The results of the current study highlights once more that the main goal of learning a language is to use it for communication. It is understood that as long as language is used in a creative and productive way, learners are more eager to participate in the class and interact with each other. However, in most of the state schools, grammar structures and reading are given more emphasis, which is an indication of grammar translation method. Before the study, the English teachers in the school where the study was conducted agreed that even the best learners are only successful in reading and translation but not in speaking. This was highly because they were very afraid of making mistakes, which shows that learners do not feel confident enough in traditional classroom context. Thus, implementations of creative drama activities to English classes can enhance learners' positive attitude and their speaking skills.

4.3 Applications

In order to receive effective results from creative drama activities the teacher should learn about the discipline of creative drama before introducing it to the learners. There are private creative drama courses or in-service trainings for teachers. By attending those, teachers can understand the underlying reasons why they need to choose a specific activity for a specific situation.

As for introducing learners with creative drama, it can be said there are two ways to implement it in English classes. A teacher can either include various drama techniques in his/her lessons or he/she can plan a separate creative drama program for students who want to improve their speaking skill. The former is on a wider scale, while the latter is narrower.

Some of the popular techniques that are used in creative drama are listed below. It is important not to forget that these techniques are basic creative drama techniques and they need to be adapted to English language teaching by the English teacher.

Role-play: A role is assigned to each student. The student is supposed to act in a way that his/her role requires.

Pantomime: Pantomime is a way of expressing a theme, idea or feelings by making use of only gestures and actions.

Improvisation: Improvisation is one of the drama techniques in which students are given a problem or conflict to be solved in their groups by acting a dramatic situation.

Tableau: Students present frozen pictures in response to a given theme. It promotes symbolic thinking. Students, individually or in groups, use their bodies to create an image that tells an idea or shows a single moment from a story or event.

4.4 Suggestions for further research

This study was conducted in four weeks. The time was very short to look into the effects of creative drama on learners' attitude in long term. For further research, time can be lengthened to obtain more detailed results.

Another suggestion is about the number of participants. In this study the number of the participants was 12 and this small sample size limits the generalization of the results. Larger numbers of samples may give more generalization and reliable results.

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