Connecting Drama and Language Learning – An interview with Daniel Zappi

Daniel Zappi
Daniel Zappi is a trained actor from the Oxford School of Drama with over 15 years’ experience in arts and education as a coach, theatre director, playwright, singer-songwriter and performer.

He started writing and performing songs early in his teens and turned his passion for music and theatre into a career. In 2000, Daniel won the Hemingway award for his poetry. Continuing his journey as a singer and songwriter, Daniel performed in a number of countries, including Russia, Poland, Italy, Tunisia and the U.S.  He also played extensively on the UK circuit and became a resident artist at London’s Troubadour Club in 2010. In the same year, he won the Guildford Music Award for the best new singer-songwriter.

Now, Daniel is on a mission to help people of all ages, nationalities and cultures become more confident speaking English. To do so, he founded Oxford World Theatre three years ago, a company that develops people’s communication skills through the dramatic arts. Supported by his highly-skilled artistic team, Daniel has brought more than 4000 non-native English speaking students to the stage to date.

On March 18 at 8pm UTC, Daniel will deliver a free webinar on WizIQ entitled Drama: an invaluable supplement to classroom language study. This webinar is part of the Featured Teachers series, hosted by Fluency MC. To sign up, click here.

In this interview with WizIQ, Daniel discusses how combining drama and language learning has helped him empower people around the world.

     1.  How do you connect drama and language learning in your work?

Through games, exercises, rehearsals, songs and finally, through sharing with an audience. All these elements together enhance and ‘bring out’ existing language knowledge in the students, by freeing them up from many of the fears associated with speaking in a foreign language and helping them to enjoy communicating with others. As well as this the student learn new terminology and expressions through the words his/her character speaks, as well as pronunciation and vocal work. All of this takes place in an atmosphere of trust, fun, and freedom to try things out and all these things and many more are how we connect language-learning and drama.

     2.  What do language learners like most about your approach?

I think it’s the fact that they have a lot of fun whilst working with others towards a clear and exciting aim (the final performance), and knowing that they are gradually getting more and more confident in their spoken English as the weeks progress. I have seen many people, of all ages and levels of English, quite transformed by the end of a project, and they have often expressed gratitude for this.

   3.  What sort of results have you had with your students?

As mentioned above, students are left feeling like something has changed in them, that they are more confident and able to express themselves. Anyone who has performed on a stage knows the feeling of achievement that brings and-how that influences your life, sometimes for the rest of your life (as in my case). Imagine then if you add to the fact that they did it- made an audience laugh, cry, applaud- in a foreign language! Immense sense of achievement and self-esteem. The teachers often report that the overall performance in the English classroom is positively influenced.

   4.  Tell us about your relationship with Gallery Languages.

I have known Giovanni Rottura for many years. I consider him a friend and a great working partner. I’ve been providing him with a drama department since the beginning of 2014, and it’s going very well so far.

   5.  What are you plans for the future of Oxford World Theatre?

We hope to keep growing, with integrity and dedication to our craft. There are many projects and new collaborations in the pipeline, both abroad and in the UK in addition to those we do already. I guess, as they say, watch this space!

We hope to see you in this Featured Teachers webinar with Daniel Zappi. Click here for more information and to sign up for free. If you cannot be there for the live session, be sure to sign up anyway to have lifelong access to the video recording.


A marketer by profession and an explorer by nature. I love to read, learn, travel, experiment with new music and food, and have a good laugh.

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