Drama-Based Foreign Language Learning and the Modern Mandragola


  • Teresa Lobalsamo University of Toronto
  • Adriano Pasquali




Experiential learning is on the rise at post-secondary institutions across North America. Course instructors across all disciplines are implementing a wide variety of high-impact practices to investigate the transformative effects of experiential learning modules and student-centered environments on undergraduate education. At the University of Toronto Mississauga,
experiential learning is the foundation of Italian Theatre and Performance, an upper-year
Italian Studies course that uses drama and performance-based learning to reimagine the shape and function of foreign language education. Students work towards the shared goal of a live foreign theatrical performance by collaborating on product-oriented tasks such as scriptwriting, rehearsals, set design, and community outreach, which provide a professional and immersive context in which to refine their language skills. Through this emphasis on active learning and practical interactions, the theatre course transforms the passive humanities classroom into a vibrant student-centered environment that demonstrates how a comprehensive integration of drama and performance-based learning into foreign language education can greatly enhance student development of linguistic, sociocultural, and pragmatic competence in the target language.

Keywords: experiential learning; performance-based learning; drama-based pedagogy; foreign language theatre; La Mandragola; Machiavelli






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