Author and teacher Jessica Gracía writes about five benefits of using readers theater with children learning Spanish.
Readers Theater is like a play, often adapted from literature, but without the need of costumes and props—though the latter can be used to dramatize the script as well. My kindergarteners loved Readers Theater, which is a benefit in and of itself. Here are 5 reasons why you should incorporate it into your classroom curriculum or at-home play-time:
Custom Literacy has provided free printable masks to use with the readers theater. Read more about using this readers theater script with Spanish learners. You can find wonderful stories and readers theater in Spanish on the Custom Literacy Etsy shop.
5 Benefits of Readers Theater
1. DEVELOP FLUENCY
Fluency means reading quickly, accurately, and with good prosody, or reading in a way that resembles natural speech. Spanish learners need to read a text multiple times before they can read it with fluency; this requires repetition. However, children often tire of reading the same material multiple times. But Readers Theater gives children an authentic reason to read the same content over and over; they want to get their lines right. And in the case of children learning Spanish, this means numerous opportunities to practice correct pronunciation.
2. INCREASE COMPREHENSION
This is especially crucial when reading in a second language. Just as it facilitates fluency, repetition gives students more exposure to the text. But Readers Theater also involves dissecting the text. Students actively imagine which character is doing what and where. Teachers can further guide their students in previewing the script, similar to a director discussing stage directions with her actors. Students are fully engaged in every aspect of the story.
3. INCORPORATE ALL 4 STAGES OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
These 4 stages are listening, speaking, reading, and writing, generally in that order, and often in combination. Students are listening to their peers as they read their parts, knowing that it is their responsibility to follow along so that they aren’t lost when it’s their turn. They not only speak while reading their lines, but can actively participate in rich discussions about the text, having acquired new vocabulary such as characters, setting, and actions from the plot. Students are of course reading their own lines, but are also reading silently when their peers have the floor; in the case of my students, I noticed that they’d naturally point to the words while listening to what was being read. And finally, Readers Theater opens many avenues for writing. Students can answer comprehension questions, or even write their own scripts.
4. ENCOURAGE COOPERATIVE LEARNING
A Readers Theater cast quickly becomes a team. Students work together and encourage each other to succeed. They are taking turns, perhaps helping each other to read their lines. Rotating roles particularly aids in eliminating the competition factor. Students can shine here with their varying strengths; you may notice leadership and creative qualities that did not surface elsewhere. Perhaps you’ll have some actors, directors, costume, and set-designers, should you decide to produce the play.
5. IMPROVE SELF-ESTEEM
All the previous benefits lead to this final one. When students can read their parts well, get into their characters, enjoy interacting with their peers, they feel good about themselves. High self-esteem fuels the desire to learn more, which is ultimately the goal each one of us has for our kids.