Drama activities are reported to foster language learning, and may prepare learners for oral skills that mirror those used in real life. This year-long time series classroom-based quasi-experimental study followed a between-subjects design in which two classes of college EFL learners were exposed to two oral training conditions: (1) an experimental one in which drama-based training pedagogy was employed; and (2) the comparison one in which ordinary public speaking pedagogy was utilized. The experimental participants dramatized a picture book into a play, refined and rehearsed it for the classroom audience, and eventually performed it publicly as a theater production for community children. Diachronic comparisons of the participants’ oral presentation skills under the two conditions showed that a significant between-group difference began to become pronounced only after the experimental participants started to present for real-life audiences other than their classmates. This finding suggests that drama-mediated pedagogy effectively enhanced the experimental participants’ presentation performance and became more effective than the traditional approach only after a real-life audience was involved. In addition to the participants’ performance data, survey and retrospective protocols were utilized to shed light on how drama-based tasks targeting both classroom and authentic audiences influence college EFL learners’ presentation performance and their self-perceived oral presentation skills. Analysis of the survey and retrospective data indicated that the participants’ attention to three presentation skills—structure, audience adaptation and content—was significantly raised after their presentation involved a real-life audience. Based on these findings, pedagogical implications for drama for FL oral presentation instruction are discussed.
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