Using Role-plays and Simulations to Motivate ESL Students in a Grammar Class: A Case Study

Using Role-plays and Simulations to Motivate ESL Students in a Grammar Class: A Case Study

Author: 
Susanna Sarkissian McPhilomy
Program of study: 
Ed.D.
Abstract: 
The purpose of this instrumental case study was to gain understanding on how roleplaying and simulation techniques could be used in teaching grammar to learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). The study focused on exploring the effects of these interactive techniques on students’ learning experiences and used them as tools to build their confidence and increase motivation in the process of learning grammar. I reflected on their experiences and feelings while they played with and acted upon the grammar categories taught to them. The study was conducted using a classical content analysis approach. The participants were videotaped during the interviews. Classroom observations and after-class discussions were conducted and documents were reviewed to collect data. This research study was necessary to contribute to knowledge that might help ESL learners and practitioners in their practices. The main concept that emerged from the interview data based on participants’ descriptions and insights was that roleplays and simulations have essential meanings for the second language learners in the process of studying grammar. These interactive techniques increased learners’ motivation, confidence, and use of language structures in meaningful contexts. The themes were important to understanding the participants’ perceptions of being comfortable in the target language environment and not fearing grammar, which contributes to student achievement. The study contains recommendations and practical suggestions to the ESL community in reflecting on an alternative approach to grammar instruction and making the process of teaching and learning grammar a more meaningful and enjoyable experience.
Dedication: 
I dedicate my doctoral dissertation to my grandson Haik, who is much smarter than his grandmother. I also dedicate my work to my other grandchildren who will continue the legacy of quest for knowledge and growth.
Acknowledgements: 
It is with greatest respect and appreciation that I acknowledge Dr. Julio de Carvalho, my mentor, my constant support, my wise guide, and my friend in this turbulent and yet inspiring journey on the academic sea. He was always available to answer a question, provide an insightful comment or timely feedback, and offer hope and encouragement. He was there with a torch when I felt I was lost in the dark. He helped me focus when I lost track, and he made me look forward to the next day when I thought there was no tomorrow. It was due to his knowledge, guidance, experience, and marvelous road map that I was able to come to the finish line with a cheerful smile. I also gratefully acknowledge the guidance and thorough feedback of my committee members. Dr. Lynn Henrichsen has supported me since the time I arrived in the United States and throughout my professional career. He has watched me grow and live my American dream in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language. I greatly appreciate the efforts of my other committee member, Dr. Shana Nicholson, for her helpful direction, timely feedback, and encouragement at all times. Most importantly, I would like to thank the participants of my research, my amazing students, for their dedication to the learning process and active involvement in the study. They never cease to amaze me with their hard work, creativity, and desire to learn and grow. My students inspire and motivate me and make my classroom rock! I would also like to thank the special people in my life who supported me during this significant chapter in my life, especially my husband, who has unwavering confidence in me and my ability, my children, who constantly encouraged and had faith in me, and my wonderful parents, who sacrificed much and lived to see their dream come true. I was constantly supported by my best friend, business partner, and daughter Maria, who embarked on and traveled every step of this doctoral journey with me, spending numerous hours listening, supporting, and encouraging me every step of the process. Without everybody’s support, love, understanding, personal sacrifice, and strength, I could not have completed this journey