How to Use Plays
Performing a Play in Ten Easy Steps
Step 2: Build background knowledge. You can do this in a number of ways: use realia, photos, or illustrations; write in a journal; view a video related to the topic; emphasize key vocabulary; take a pretest; use talking drawings; create/administer a survey, etc.
Step 3: Review the parts of a script (title, stage directions, narrator, dialogue, etc.)
Step 4: Distribute roles.
Step 5: Ask students to highlight their lines.
Step 6: Allow time for students to read independently. Let them work through vocabulary, character, story. Feel free to expand upon this by using the characterization map and setting map I have developed.
Step 7: Work on comprehension: cut out or draw pictures, illustrate the main idea, make a cartoon strip showing the sequence of events, retell the story in your words, paint a picture of some aspect you like, write a summary report of an event, prepare a flow chart to illustrate the sequence of events, make a colouring book.
Step 8: Practice the script.
Step 9: Work on adding expression, intonation, speed, movement/blocking.
Step 10: Perform either for an audience or a video camera.
What is it? This activity gives students the chance to improvise their scene a few times before getting the script. This helps them personalize the scene, and use their imaginations.
Purpose: To imagine a scene before acting it out, to personalize a scene, to read to understand main idea and details
What is it? An interesting kind of role-play to introduce to your ESL classroom is the contentless scene. The defining feature of a contentless scene is that it lacks “content”. Essentially, it is a role-play script in which participants add emotion and action. This informs the audience of who the characters are, why they are there, and what the mood is.
Purpose: One great advantage to using contentless scenes is that students can practice stress, intonation, pace, emotion, and body language. Since there is no “content” or pre-determined meaning, the same scene can be used multiple times.
What is it? Here, students particiapte in a kind of jigsaw activity. They first join their expert groups to understand their character's lines. After they discuss their lines, they join their jigsaw groups and practice the play.
Purpose: to practice prepared speaking, to plan and perform appropriate body movements, to convey appropriate emotions, to read for understanding of main ideas and details
What is it? In this activity, students use a corpus of American English to explore various "opinion" phrases. They can use the results of this activity to create a role-play in which they must give their opinions.
Purpose: to find common expressions, to sort phrases into categories, to use authentic language forms in appropriate situations
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