The purpose of this paper is to investigate the usefulness of using a radio drama in general English writing classes at the university level. Authentic audio-visual materials often motivate learners to watch and listen to the information provided in the target language. Recently, a lot of research has identified the merits of using films, TV dramas, and other visual materials for developing students’ listening abilities. However, there have been few papers reporting about the usefulness of radio dramas used in foreign language classrooms, especially the use of them as input to stimulate writing practices, namely to promote output activities.
A radio-style drama of 11 episodes, Acapulco Vacation, was used for an English writing course in the autumn semester of 2013, and 28 Japanese intermediate-level university students (average TOEIC score of 593.3) took it as a compulsory subject. The students were expected to listen to one of the 11 episodes before each class, and worked on open-type comprehension questions, writing their answers on a worksheet every week. Also, each student wrote a 500-word summary of the whole story as an assignment at the end of the course. A questionnaire was conducted in the last lesson to evaluate the course.
The results of the survey indicated that most of the students found it useful to use the radio drama to practice writing as well as listening. They also felt that their writing abilities had improved. In addition, many comments were reported to create positive attitudes or stronger motivation for second/foreign language learning.