Plays give students the tools they need 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.

But fitting a play into the classroom can be a bit of a challenge. 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 conversations. Use them as reader’s theater scripts or have your students put on full performances with the resources inside.

Short enough to work as a group project, but flexible and adaptable enough to fill a unit or even an elective class, this series of plays will help students gain communication skills that they can apply to their lives outside the classroom.

Short Plays for English Learners Books

A foodie drama about a chef done bad…and the immigrant who stands up to him
Has Lola found Mr. Right? Her family’s not so sure.
  • 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 foreword 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!

Download a free preview

Take a look at a few sample activities and an excerpt of Just Desserts: Short Plays Preview

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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 WaterThere’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.

Theater Handbook

Coming in 2019!

This teacher’s guide is designed for teachers who want to try drama in their English classrooms but don’t know where to start. This book contains monologues, sketches, and scripts, as well as activities and teacher support—everything you need to go from drama games and pronunciation activities to a full production!


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Other Drama and Theater Resources by Alphabet Publishing

Browse all our drama and theater materials here.