CATHARSIS: ENGLISH TEACHING THROUGH ROLEPLAYING

From December 2019 to February 2020, the Catharsis English Language, Literature and Culture educational training program was held in Artsakh. More than 75 students from Stepanakert and surrounding areas took part in it. The program supported by the Caucasus Institute had two components. The first was an English course for beginners aimed at developing communication skills and cultural awareness through interactive methods and games.

The second was a series of readings and roleplaying exercises aimed at exposing mid-level students to English literature and culture. It included reading and roleplay of parts from Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, poems by  Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, films including The Prince of Egypt, The Sounds of Music and Singing in the Rain, and singing of Christmas carols.

Lusine Vanyan, program organizer

“While teaching English at the university, I noticed that even those students who are not actively involved in the classes still enjoy taking part in roleplaying games. They step into the role, become enthusiastic and learn the texts with minimal effort. So it occurred to me to organize an English training program using roleplaying games and interactive teaching methods. I was guided by the idea that the representation of languages through their culture, literature, and philosophy opens a new perspective for the learner, exposing them to a diverse image of the world and creating a citizen with a broader outlook and a healthy mind.    

I shared this idea with Elina Grigoryan, one of my best students in the MA program. With the support of the Caucasus Institute and the Artsakh State University, we started to work. The difficult part was the recruitment process, especially creating a group of mid-level English learners.


As an outcome of the course, I identified a group of young people eager to take part in theatrical performances”.

Elina Grigoryan,  teacher

“This was my first long-term teaching experience in a group. I was impressed with the students’ motivation  to learn. Perhaps the reason is that schools prioritize reading/writing and do not focus on listening and speaking skills. In this course, we helped students build these skills through conversations and games, paving a new way for language learning.

During the trainings, the participants gained the following skills:

  1. Free communication.
  2. Interactive lessons.
  3. Free expression of thoughts.
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  1. This course motivated me to grow professionally”.

Tigran Badalyan, student

” I work as a software engineer at the Breengy startup. In my line of work, English proficiency is essential. That is why I enrolled in the Catharsis program in December 2019.

The unique methodology of the program sparked my interest. I especially appreciated the roleplaying games that boosted my English speaking skills. I also started to understand my interlocutors better.

The program was also fun. I liked the roleplaying games best, but the other methods used by the teacher were also useful and enabled me to delve into the language.

The only thing I didn’t like was that the class often lasted two hours instead of ninety minutes, probably because the group was so large and it took longer than planned to cover the material.

I want to thank Elina Grigoryan and the Caucasus Institute for organizing everything”.

Marianna Aghabekyan and Luiza Martirosyan, students

“We took part in the intermediate level course and are very satisfied. We learned new things about English literature and culture in interesting ways, like roleplaying games and movie watching. The material was versatile. For instance, we realized that in Alice in Wonderland  Lewis Carroll explains patterns related to physics, anthropology, and cognition.

The screenplays based on English classical literature developed our inner world. Following the English tradition, we organized a Christmas tea party and sang Christmas carols. Roleplaying games allowed us to enrich our vocabulary with minimum effort and created an atmosphere where we were all cut off from everyday life. Stepping into the roles of various characters, we found ourselves in a magical world.

We will be happy to participate in a future program like this one that provides an opportunity to learn English while also gaining general knowledge and interacting with others. Thank you very much for conducting this program”.

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