The benefits of doing plays for students, particularly language learners, are numerous:
- practice with body language and gesture
- improved pronunciation and intonation
- awareness of pragmatics and how context changes how we communicate
- important cultural knowledge about how we communicate
- focus on oracy or spoken communication skills
- safe space to practice as students are playing a role/wearing a mask
- easily scaffolded as students rely more or less on the script
- opportunities to improvise and be creative
- team work skills as students work together on a group project
In short students gain tools to speak more effectively. Or with more emotional impact. Or more persuasively. Or more clearly….
And in a world where so much language learning is done in isolation via apps or online tutors, coming to class, working on a fun project, and then showing off the results can be highly motivating and personally satisfying. That’s why we’ve published Short Plays for English Learners, a series of 10-15 minute plays with engaging, page-turning plots that feature authentic situations and natural conversation.
Short Plays for English Learners Books
- Strange Medicine: A mysterious professor rents a room from a single mother and her son. April 2019
- Colorado Ghost Story: Trevor and Pippin have a midnight adventure in the wilderness. May 2019
- Death Wish: Lari’s frequent accidents alarm her friends. June 2019
Each book features a preview activity, a pragmatics lesson, and tips for acting and producing a play, along with a glossary of theater terms! With a forward by Steve Hirschhorn, these books are more than just a script; they are an adaptable and flexible lesson plan for a drama unit or fun class project!
Resources to put on short plays for students
- How to Organize a Mini-Debate Debates are a great way to extend a play or any text, help students analyze the theme and main topics, and practice using persuasive language. Download this free guide to doing quick debates in class.
- How to Do Readers Theater Reader’s Theater is a great way to practice pronunciation and pragmatics with a minimum of preparation. It’s also a fun way to rehearse a play or get students thinking about communication skills. Here’s a free introduction to reader’s theater and some things to take into consideration as you do it in class!
- Reflecting on Doing plays with students. Alice wrote a long blog post detailing how she handled a class built around a longer play, Rising Water. There’s lots of great information about logistics and the syllabus and more!
- ISTD Blog Posts All our blog posts tagged “Integrated Skills Through Drama” so you can keep up with the latest resources, free activities, and updates. Or subscribe to our feed or mailing list.
- Teaching Students the Pragmatics of Honesty An activity that asks students to analyze ways to communicate being direct and honest with other people using a script.
- Ten Ways to Teach English with a Play 10 teaching ideas from Alice about exploiting plays in the classroom. Click on the link for a series of graphics that make nice classroom posters.
- Wearing Someone Down A lesson plan to teach the pragmatics of wearing someone down to persuade them to your point of view, using a scene from Her Own Worst Enemy.
- How to Praise Someone (and how not to). A fun short script from Alice that focuses on strategies for connecting with people through praise. Students learn how to use language to compliment another person, and some models of failure, as well.
- Wedding Party Simulation Students practice starting, continuing, and ending conversations in the context of a wedding reception. Can be done as a standalone activity or a follow-up to Only the Best Intentions as students imagine themselves at Gigi and Oscar’s wedding.
Other Books by Alphabet Publishing
Looking for a more complete curriculum? Check out the Integrated Skills Through Drama series.