It’s all just play. Bright Ideas for the classroom

TESOL course
A few weeks before Christmas Veronique Bayle, owner and operator of the English school So What About English? contacted me about materials to use for Christmas.  She was looking for a play for her adult learners to perform.  We both looked around, but didn’t find anything that really struck our interest.  I suggested, “Well, maybe you could have your students write their OWN Christmas play!”
Then I received this in my inbox.  In a few short weeks, this multilevel adult English class had written and produced their own Christmas play!
Veronique's class at Christmas

What’s the point of this kind of activity (besides wearing reindeer antlers)?  here’s my take on it:

1) If learners are writing their own story, they are using their own words and learning and incorporating new vocabulary as needed.  This is authentic, meaningful language!  Way better than memorizing a script that they may not even understand.

2) When learners work in small groups to write a storyline or script, they need to work together to communicate and negotiate meaning. This is where real language acquisition happens.

3) There are so many things you can focus on during this project. If it’s a writing focus, learners can write scripts and you can edit them to perfection. Performing them is the final step of the writing process!

Focusing on speaking
instead? Forget the script. Have them focus on the storyline, then act with a more improvised roleplay.

4) If you happen to have a multilevel class (don’t we all?) there are 100s of ways to divide up tasks to suit learners’ levels and needs.  Heck, when I was in high school plays, I was usually a townsperson with no lines at all!  Take advantage of the varied roles and possibilities of the theater to find just the right fit for each person in your multilevel classes.

5) The challenge and the fun of it all.  Adults like to

have fun, I promise. And they like to feel challenged and successful.  The first time I tried having my beginner/intermediate adults create their own play, I was nervous, and ready for a big, fat, fail. (A co-teacher of mine actually dragged me into it kicking and screaming).  I was completely unprepared for how they rose to the challenge. They trusted us as teachers, and when they saw that we believed they could do it (I’m a good actor, I guess), they believed it, too.  I was completely floored by how their language level soared when they had a reason to communicate, and a lot invested in their audience’s ability to understand.

So check out the So, What about English Christmas play by clicking on the photo above, (and maybe leave them a comment under the video). And think about how you can bring this kind of challenge and fun to your learners, too.  Some day soon we’ll send you the step-by-step of how to do this in your classroom.

Have you used drama in the classroom with your language students?  Tell us how it went in the comments below.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
About The Author


Director of Unusual Circumstances: Teacher, trainer, coach, consultant. Find out more about me at: About Us