Drama in education has received considerable attention in the discourse on foreign language education and practitioners plead for its implementation in the classroom as well as in teacher training programmes (cf. Even, 2003; Haack, 2010; Schewe, 1993; Stinson & Winston, 2011). Although there are numerous reports on dramas valuable contribution in educational contexts, evidence about its effect on second language learning is still sparse. This thesis investigates the effect of drama-based teaching on foreign language learning and hence contributes to bridging the gap between theory and practice. More precisely, it postulates two main research interests. First, the research aims to evaluate if drama grammar is an effective approach to teach conditional clauses to young adolescent English language learners. Second, it seeks to investigate other potential effects of drama-based teaching. For this purpose, an experimental case study, using a mixed-method, pre- and post-test design, was conducted at an upper secondary school in Dornbirn, Austria. Based on Evens (2003) drama grammar approach, one class was taught using drama-based methods. Another class received teacher-centred instructions. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected through a grammar test, external observation reports, a questionnaire on drama-based methods and a teachers journal.
Results from quantitative data suggest that drama can be an effective instrument for learning grammar. Qualitative data supports this finding and further demonstrates that students associate positive learning experiences with the work of drama, including fun, better understanding, longer retention, self-confidence and positive group dynamics. Nevertheless, some challenging factors accompanied the drama intervention including time and space constraints as well as enhanced noise levels of participants, agitation and confusion in the beginning. Based on these results and theoretical background knowledge, the thesis concludes that drama practitioners and learners need to get accustomed to this distinctive way of learning and find suitable approaches for the respective learner group and setting in order to benefit from the resources drama offers. In this respect, the thesis promotes the implementation of drama pedagogy in teacher training programmes to prepare future teachers for using drama techniques in their language classrooms and hence offering students a holistic, communicative, motivating and successful language learning.