Overcoming anxiety in adult migrants' language learning by means of Process Drama


  • Veronica Maistrello University of Padua
  • Fiona Clare Dalziel University of Padova


Language anxiety, Process Drama, migration, Italian as a second language, adult learners


Abstract: The aim of this article is to explore how drama activities can provide an opportunity for adult migrants to develop their competence in the language of the host community, in this case Italian, in a protected and anxiety-free space. Language anxiety has been classified as a specific feeling of apprehension due to the risks language learners may be required to take during the learning process, and which they may perceive as threatening. When it is adult migrants who are engaged in the learning of a new language, such anxiety might easily be aroused by specific socio-cultural factors, such as power relationships, the awareness of belonging to a minority, and the need to use an unknown language to demonstrate their skills. The article will describe how the Process Drama approach – which includes drama-based activities that can be adapted to the needs and preferences of learners – can be used to enable migrants to gain greater self-confidence in their foreign language knowledge and skills. The task-based nature of Process Drama engages learners through the pleasure of creation, self-expression and discovery, and promotes interaction and cooperation among the members of the group. The paper includes observations gathered in the field: it will describe how Process Drama activities were adopted during two workshops for migrants in the city of Padova in northern Italy, conducted in 2018 and early 2019. The workshops were facilitated by the authors themselves and the data analyzed consists of teacher logs and focus group discussions.