Date: May 6, 2023
Time: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Location: The University of Arizona - Harvill Building Room 404

Title: Performance-Based Activities for the World Language Classroom

Presenter:  Melanie Mello, award-winning teacher and teacher-trainer, specializing in language acquisition and theater-pedagogy

Event Date: May 6th 2023

Time: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm (includes lunch)

Location: In-person at The University of Arizona, Tucson. (There are no remote access options for this event.)

Registration is free! It closes on April 24 or when the event fills.

LaTeS is now full, but you can add yourself to the waitlist on the LaTeS page.

Limited funding for travel is available. See the LaTeS page for more details about eligibility and how to apply.

View the flyer


LaTeS is normally a biannual in-person workshop at which K-12 language teachers can share ideas and issues that are specific to their community, and leave with methods and materials that they can implement into their own classrooms. Arizona Continuing Education is available. Because of the pandemic, we have not been able to host this event since 2019, and we are excited to be back in-person with LaTeS once again!



Recent studies found that participation in performative play can lead to significant improvement in cognitive functions, such as visual and auditory memory. This is because when we act we enter a state of full concentration and simultaneous relaxation allowing the brain to enter a processing mode in which previously stored information can be linked to new information improving retention (Ganz et al, 2020). Additionally, Drinko’s research on improv and neuroscience (2013) shows that performative practices help improvisers communicate more engagingly and interactively; accelerating language learner’s progress in proficiency in the interpersonal mode of communication.

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to several performance-based activities and concepts connecting improv, neuroscience, film, and language acquisition in theory and practice. After a couple of warm-up activities through which participants will learn how to control their voice and use their body to convey status and express feelings, we will try out several proven improv activities to explore firsthand how students’ communication and collaboration skills can be further developed through improv.

During the second half of the workshop, participants will be introduced to two drama-based pedagogical concepts developed by Ingo Scheller – Rollenbiographie and szenische Intpretation – that can be used in a variety of classroom activities. In this presentation, we will connect these ideas to a lesson focused on the study of a film. Both methods focus on the actor’s dramatic interpretation of the behavior patterns, feelings, and experiences of the character they represent based on their own personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. In small groups participants will come up with their own dramatic interpretations of a “challenging” situation as presented in the movie Sachertorte (2022); a Vienna-based rom-com. After each group’s performance, we will watch the film scenes to compare our versions to the original.


About the Presenter:

Melanie Mello (M.A in Education) is an award-winning teacher and teacher-trainer, specializing in language acquisition and theater-pedagogy. In 2023, she was named Distinguished Alumna in Humanities and Fine Arts by her alma mater, California State University, Chico. She has taught German at the Saturday school, middle school, high school, and collegiate level since 2008 teaching classes ranging from beginner German to the graduate level. Melanie is currently co-authoring the intermediate level book in the Interkulturell series with Wayside Publishing. She is a German Educational Multiplier and Coach with the Goethe-Institut’s Teacher Training Program where teachers receive mentorship tailored to their needs.