Review of Her Own Worst Enemy by Charlyn Wessels Dyers

What a pleasure it was to discover a series totally devoted to the EFL/ESL teacher who may already understand the value of teaching through Drama, or who would like to try this approach for the first time in the classroom. I can say without hesitation that teachers and students will find the series Integrated Skills through Drama, of which this book forms part, a treasure trove of teaching ideas, covering areas like pronunciation, grammar, pragmatics, discussion themes and a host of suggested activities, all built around a short play.

Her Own Worst Enemy begins with a detailed set of very useful preview activities, ranging from getting students to think about the topic, to exercises in pragmatics and attentive listening. This section could be even used by teachers who are not interested in making use of the play for performance and production purposes. As the writer says: “You can mix and match the activities to fit your curricular objectives”. The book also contains a number of useful photographs and illustrations, which can stimulate further discussion.

Next, the play itself is presented, and again the writer offers plenty of ideas for discussing its characters and the challenges they face. The topic should certainly engage the attention of young students who are entering adulthood and thinking about their own career prospects while they read and analyse the text.

But what lies at the heart of teaching and learning through drama? Action! Performance! For the teachers and students interested in producing the play, the writer provides a number of very practical and achievable steps to ensure that even novices in the world of drama could be able to stage the play successfully and have a very enjoyable time while doing it.

The book concludes with a range of post-performance activities (e.g. discussion topics, writing alternative endings, mini-debates, pronunciation), ideas for assessment and thinking beyond the classroom, such as getting students to research and write their own career profiles.

Certainly a book and a series I would heartily recommend!

Charlyn Wessels Dyers, Author of Drama in the Oxford Resource Series for Teachers (OUP 1987).