The ‘Town of Many’ project aimed to record the urban cultural landscape of Butetown and Cardiff Bay areas of Cardiff, UK, in order to provide second language acquisition educational resources, and to promote social inclusion and the British values to refugees, migrants and new arrival students. The project was mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by Cathays High School, the University of Bristol, and the Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The methodological framework proposed for the optimal application of urban landscape heritage recording in multicultural education is a combination of Historic Area Assessment and drama in education. From the array of heritage recording methods the Historic Area Assessment (HAA) was selected due to the urban character of our chosen heritage landscapes. Historic Area Assessment is a Historic England methodological framework for understanding the importance and significance of an area so as to lead to better preservation of the hence area. Historic Area Assessment is commonly used in commercial and redevelopment projects. However, it can equally be used for academic study and for educational purposes. HAA in education is mobilised as a medium to communicate a heritage context to a group of learners, but in our occasion, it is used as a tool for learning and embedding heritage into language acquisition (for an overview on HAA English Heritage 2017).
Drama in Education (DiE) can communicate a target language and boost engagement, fluency, and active participation of learners (Kao and O’Neill 1998; Stinson 2008; Stinson and Freebody 2006). It corresponds with the principles of active learning while placing value on interaction, collaboration, and student-centred learning (Nicholson 2009). Drama in Education supports learners to improve both the clarity and creativity of communication of verbal and nonverbal ideas, while it encourages learners’ active participation, motivation, and thoughts sharing. It develops and consolidates learning as well as meeting broader educational goals (Eccles 1989). Multicultural education purposes of language learning can be served by Drama in Education because of the provision of targeted vocabulary learning opportunities (Kalogirou et al 2017). ‘Town of Many’ employed drama as the medium to infuse Heritage in the educational context instead of a cutting-edge state of the art digital method because of the versatility and accessibility that drama offers compare to digital portals (see Kalogirou 2016).
HAA and DiE provided opportunities for experiential learning, lesson plans were designed as a combination of outdoor heritage recording exercises and indoor drama and task-based activities. Thus, leads to a four-step teaching method: a) establishing of the teaching b) recording of heritage assets that can deliver the teaching objective c) creation of drama-based lesson plans d) delivery of the lesson plans and evaluation.
The sample comprised 20 students, of which 18 were male and 2 were female. All the students fell into either the 14-17 or the 18-21 age category. Both female individuals fell into the lower age category. The majority of the students identified as being Muslim (15, 75%). The remaining students identified as being Buddhist, Christian, Sikh and ‘Other’. The first language of each student varied, the most prominent first languages were Arabic followed by Kurdish. This was followed by Tigrinya, then Italian, Somali and Vietnamese. Finally, Pashto/Pakhto and Portuguese were the first language on one student respectively. The ethnicity of each student followed a similar pattern to that of language, with Arab and Kurdish being the most prominent ethnicity; this was followed by Somali and Eritrean.
From the student-led heritage recording 65 complete heritage assets forms were obtained. These contained 46 different heritage assets, of which 34 (73.91%) were tangible and 12 (26.09%) were intangible. The most common characterisations of the tangible assets were Modern historical building (17, 32.69%), Religious building (19.23%) and Recreational space (17.31%). The most common characterisations of intangible assets were a song (3, 25%), and a festival, a spiritual expression and Language (each 2, 16.66%).
Prior of the commencing of the teaching activities, out of 21 target words, the initial test results ranged between 0 and 11, out of 21, with an average score of 3.15 (15%). The second set of test results after the completion of the five ‘Town of Many’ lessons, answers ranged between 0 and 21, with two students obtaining full marks. The average score was 8.85 (42.14%). The difference between the second and first test ranged between a reduction by 1 mark to an increase by 11 marks, with an average of an increase in score by 5.7 (27.14%).
Further to the increase in competence on the given vocabulary, the effectiveness of a heritage inspired, drama based, lesson for multicultural classrooms is shown in the opinion-based survey that students answered prior to delivery and upon completion of the project. Before the lesson commenced, all 20 students (100%) answered that they would like to learn more about the history and heritage of Cardiff, when 18 out of 20 (90%) felt that learning about Cardiff would make them feel better integrated in the new environment. Upon the completion of the heritage recording and the drama lessons, students gave an excellent average score (4.25 out of 5) for the project. For the question on how much heritage and drama helped, again they provide a high satisfaction average score (4.25 out of 5). From the open answer questions, we learned that students liked ‘The lively atmosphere in the class, the great communication and the sharing of our thoughts and views’, when with the ‘Town of Many’ lesson were easier for them to ‘learn the language better and improve their Speaking and Writing skills’. Overall, students find the lessons ‘interesting’, when they believe that they ‘helped them a lot to improve their grammar and speaking skills’.