Although using Readers Theater (RT) in various educational settings is not a new idea, few studies have been conducted to address both its theoretical and pedagogical issues in language classrooms. In this action research study, the teacher–researcher consistently explored three phases of RT activities with 14 ESL students in an intermediate L2 writing class in a US university. In Phase I, students read aloud their chosen sentences from the source text to generate discussion of the text's main idea. Phase 2 used student-chosen salient passages to extrapolate individual responses and meanings from the source text. In Phase 3, students created their own conclusions to the text. Data collected via students' reflective journals were analyzed, interpreted and compared with ESL teachers' reactions to RT through a simulated RT workshop. Positive effects of using RT were found. Theoretical concerns and issues of cultural appropriacy, and the pedagogical implications of RT are discussed. Recommendations for future research on RT in language classrooms are also given.
From the start of the activity to the finish, students read through the story about 15 times. Amber acknowledges that her students would never want to read a story so many times if it weren't for Reader's Theater. Within the context of this engaging activity, however, it has proven to be popular with the students, and she has seen noticeable improvements for her students as a result of repeated exposure to the text. They begin to develop fluency and comprehension because they become very familiar with the text and the plot structure. They also improve their pronunciation and presentation skills because they have so much practice reading and listening to the stories. Finally, the students begin to show more self-confidence while reading out loud and getting up in front of the class.