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Why Choreography in Second Language Classroom?

The sequencing of movements and steps in a synchronized manner is choreography.  It is basically a dance performance and is popularly used in films, reality shows on TV and in live concerts. As a performance art it comes under the theatre. In the given space of the classroom, choreography refers to bringing out the text of the poem to life. This facilitates better understanding of the text. Before using choreography, I used to teach English songs using actions. But the children ended up understanding not much of what was taught though they were able to memorize the action songs and perform them.

The Process

The teacher narrates the following segment of the module with appropriate text emoting.

It was a pleasant evening.

Ma, I’m going to the sea shore,’ said the boy.

‘What for?’ asked his mother.

Just for a walk.

Ok, Take care.

Their home was close to the sea.

The boy started walking to the seashore.  He heard the sound of the waves. The waves came near him and moved back.

This is followed by the picture interaction where the teacher points at a picture which is the continuation of the narrative and asks “What did the boy see on the shore?”

Responses: nandu(crab), kappal(ship) ,boat, fish, came.

Teacher: Do you find fish on the sea shore? Or sea?”

Response: Fish live in water.

Teacher: which water? Pond? Sea? River?”

Response: Pond, river

Through interaction I was able to extract the words ‘sea’ and ‘sea shore.’

Then, I asked the question, what did he see on the sea shore? Look at the picture. What do you see lying on the shore?”

Responses:  sangu (shell).

I asked them to say in English. They couldn’t. So I supplied the word, ‘shell’ then I asked “What shape is the shell?

Responses:  surutta suruttaya (curly).

I told them it was correct and introduced the word ‘curly.’

After this, I continued with the second part of the narration. To make them understand the meaning of the word, ‘wet’, I poured some water on one of the children’s hand and asked them. ‘Now what happened to his hand?’ students said, ‘eeramaidichi’ (wet). With this response, I introduced the word ‘wet.’

After the narration, the class along with the teacher sang the song in tune with a rhythm.  It was followed by interaction to sort out the events, places and characters in the narrative that was presented.

To choreograph the poem, a recap of the order of events was done.

I asked: ‘Who will act like a boy?’ No one was willing. So I randomly picked one girl, Shabana to act in the role of the boy.

‘How do we create the background? We need a chorus, a team of dancers for it.’

A few students were ready to act like the waves of the sea. The sequence of actions was as follows:

Scene 1

  1. The chorus creates the background (sea shore)
  2. A few students moving like the waves
  3. Shabana. enters walking along the shore
  4. She moves towards the sea
  5. The waves(Mohammad Ajeez, Hadil, Abdul Ajeez  and Salma )come rolling
  6. She moves back
  7. She picks up a shell
  8. The boy( Shabana ) exits

Classroom glimpses:

A curious thing is to be noted. When I asked the children ‘who would act like the waves, they started rolling on the floor frontwards and backwards. I was impressed at their understanding of how waves move. I asked them to do another movement where they rise and fall like waves because, I was worried if they would do the same in other classes too and disturb the class. So, I asked them to at like waves by rising up and falling. 

Scene 2

  1. The chorus creates the house. We chose Afreen and Anish Fathima to be the house.
  2. The mother is sitting and reading a book. (Jaidhunisha played this role.)
  3. The boy (Shabana) enters.
  4. The mother (Jaidhunisha) watches the shell.
  5. She takes it from the boy’s hand
  6. She holds it close to his ears.

Scene 3 (Same as in 1)

  1. The chorus creates the sea shore
  2. A few students play in the shore
  3. The boy enters.
  4. He mimes the action of telling the audience to hear the song of the shell.

In this part of telling the audience, the boy played by Shabana sings the poem in the rhythm that was sang in the earlier class.


After using choreography as a tool for teaching poem, my children were able to make better sense of the poem. It also generated more voluntary involvement in class.  Initially, the children were reluctant to act. But after seeing one set of students performing the choreography, a lot of their classmates wanted to perform it. So, I made those children also perform the choreography in two batches. The children from other classes also were very excited about seeing the students’ performance.

I am very much satisfied with the choreography session of teaching poetry in my class. I intend to follow this method in teaching poetry as it can engage the whole class.



Term: Term 1