The role of drama in the teaching of speaking and listening as the basis for social capital
Kempe, A. (2003) The role of drama in the teaching of speaking and listening as the basis for social capital. Research in Drama Education, 8 (1). pp. 65-78. ISSN 1356-9783
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/13569780308320
This paper explores how the concept of 'social capital' relates to the teaching of speaking and listening. The argument draws on Bourdieu's notion that a common language is an illusion but posits that an understanding of the grammar of speech can be productive in the development of both an understanding of what constitutes effective speech and the development of competence in speaking. It is argued that applying structuralist notions of written grammar is an inadequate approach to understanding speech acts or enhancing the creative use of speech. An analysis is made of how typical features of speech relate to dramatic dialogue and how the meaning of what is said is contingent upon aural and visual signifiers. On this basis a competent speaker is seen as being one who produces expressions appropriate for a range of situations by intentionally employing such signifiers. The paper draws on research into the way drama teachers make explicit reference to and use of semiotics and dramatic effectiveness in order to improve students' performance and by so doing empower them to increase their social capital. Ultimately, it is concluded that helping students identify, analyse and employ the aural, visual and verbal grammar of spoken English is not an adjunct to the subject of drama, but an intrinsic part of understanding the art form. What is called for is a re-appraisal by drama teachers of their own understanding of concepts relating to speech acts in order to enhance this area of their work.