ESL Plays for Children"
Thanks to Jitka and her website in the
Tcheque Republic for the two videos.
to put on
ESL skits and plays for children learning English.
Age: Children aged 4 to 12
Number of pupils: From 1 child only to a
group of 15
are written for beginners and can be adapted for higher levels
Shelley Ann Vernon
and welcome to this page on ESL plays for children. Find out
just how much ESL drama can bring to your lessons, help your pupils
learn and keep the motivation and fun factor high.
you are teaching children in small
groups or private one
to one lessons this is for
tips and insights into
using plays for ESL and EFL
a free ESL play script
to use in your next class
about it. You're sitting there scratching your head and
racking your brains about something fun that you can do to teach and
practise possessives or the future tense and not much is springing to
if you've got my classroom games then you'll have plenty of ammo for
class time, but ESL
skits and plays are the icing on the cake.
Children love them, and so do the parents and the school.
/ EFL plays are ideal for including as part of an end of term show to
parents or to the whole school. Keep the group motivation
high, increase your credibility as a teacher and ensure that parents
keep sending their children to your classes.
Let's hear the
excuses for not using ESL plays
look like too much fun, where's my textbook?! Learning
English should be laborious and hard work."
children will make too much noise and I won't be able to control their
every word and move."
don't have time for that, I've got 26 units to get through this term!"
can't use plays to teach
English because I can't act for toffee!"
with those excuses
is unlikely that anyone would disagree that the
most effective way to teach ESL children is to provide them with
opportunities to learn English in the context of everyday situations
with the emphasis on communicational skills.
And what else does an ESL play do but that?
children use drama naturally. They are always in
the land of make-believe: "this
is our house, and this is the baby, she is just born and she has to
sleep now". They assign roles and direct the action: "I'll be
the mommy and
I'm going shopping. You're the daddy; you have to go to work!" And
they slip in and out of multiple roles: "now it's my turn to be the
children love being part of something.
Preparing an ESL play together is a bonding experience for
the group. All children are involved, from the shyest to the
most outspoken and all contribute to the final outcome. Children want
to belong and being part of a play allows that to happen.
don't have time NOT to use ESL plays. Drama is
not an addition to your 26 units, but a method of teaching them more
effectively. It does not matter if you can't act - the
children will be doing the acting and they are the experts!
of ESL Drama
from direct benefits for learning English, which we're going to look at
lower down, using creative
drama makes students more skilled
and more rounded individuals.
findings of a three-year study funded by the Guggenheim museum in 2006,
Literacy through Art, showed
that including arts education increases fundamental literacy skills in
elementary school students. Students involved in these programmes also
"scored higher on expression, risk-taking, creativity, imagination and
ESL plays provide practical experience in
communicating, they give children the opportunity to learn to
work together and to be part of something, to belong in a group and to
develop tolerance and
empathy as they begin to see the world from
different perspectives. They promote active learning,
reinforcing their more traditional school experiences. In addition most
children are excited by the prospect of performing in front of others
as a chance to be the center of attention. So, when it comes
to teaching English as a second language, no matter the age of the
student, drama and children are a winning
Why should we
use plays for teaching English?
of all, it's authentic.
Using drama enables
children to use English appropriately in real conversations.
English is taught in the context in which it
will be used, which makes students aware of the language first and
foremost as a means of communication and which is far removed from
lists of vocabulary, work-sheets and textbooks.
conversational use of language in an ESL play script promotes
While learning a play, children listen to
and repeat their lines over a period of time. By repeating the words
and phrases they become familiar with them and are able to say them
with increasing fluency.
Drama also teaches children to
enunciate their words properly and to project their voices when they
speak, helping them to become clear
and confident speakers.
drama to teach English also helps to improve
the understanding and
retention of language. By the time a child has
read, rehearsed and acted out a scene focusing on the phrase "I've
forgotten my..." there is little likelihood of ever
forgetting how to use it in context. The same would not hold true if
the verb "to forget" had been memorised by rote for a
active participation required
in an ESL drama lesson involves not only the intellect but also
children's imagination and emotions. By encouraging self-expression,
motivates children to use language
confidently and creatively.
allows children to tap into different
learning styles - visual,
auditory, kinesthetic and tactile. Hearing the lines, seeing
the actions, feeling the props, acting out movements and using
expression all make the lesson a far richer one.
plays are ideal for mixed ability groups. Children whose
skills are still very limited can be given fewer lines and in addition
are given the opportunity to communicate using nonverbal cues such as
body movements and facial expressions.
the plays here
How ESL plays
help with student motivation
have been using your plays
with 5 year-old kindergarten students and the result is absolutely
FANTASTIC! They are not just having fun during the
role-play, they have
also started using the structures from the plays in various situations
outside the classroom, at play-time, mealtimes, etc.
plays DO GET THEM TO SPEAK. And this is a very rewarding experience for
us, teachers, to hear them SPEAK, not just use the target vocabulary.
vocabulary has also become easier through your plays as for the
children every single new word they are learning is now more meaningful
as it is connected with their real life experiences.
have also been getting a very positive
feedback from the parents
telling me that their children like acting out these role-plays at home
with their parents and toy animals.
you for this great material, Shelley.
Russian but teaching in Turkey."
teachers we all know that trying to teach an
unmotivated child is like hitting one's head against a brick wall. With
very young children we seldom come across this problem as most
kindergarten and preschool children are motivated by curiosity and love
to explore new ideas. Sadly, as a child grows older, learning is often
seen as a chore.
look at some of the reasons children become
de-motivated and see whether the use of drama could be a factor in
child's experience of success or failure has a
significant effect on his motivation to learn. If children repeatedly
fail, even when they have put a great deal of effort into their
learning, they are inclined to approach future tasks with a negative
Using drama as a teaching method with the appropriate
choice of play and roles, there
is no reason why all children cannot
experience success. The secret here is to make the task
but achievable for each child.
teacher's own enthusiasm also goes a long way
towards motivating a child. Anyone who has taught a classroom of
children knows how quickly they pick up and reflect your moods. If
think your English grammar lesson is boring, so will they!
drama as a teaching method and allowing children to experience language
in the simulated reality of a play they will derive far more fun from
the lesson and fun is
always motivating. In addition, chances are they
will be considerably more motivated to use the language in similar
situations in real life.
Obviously then, drama techniques motivate
children to learn by breaking the monotony of the English class and
lifting the tempo as children discuss and act out their roles, learn
what they are going to say and decide how they are going to say it.
third major factor concerning a lack of motivation is the child's need
Watch an apathetic child in the
classroom come alive on the playing fields and play his heart out for
his team. That is where he feels he fits in, his talents are respected
and he is part of the team.
a drama lesson all children are equally and
actively involved, each role is essential for the successful
performance of the play. A sense of belonging can be achieved here that
is difficult to attain in the more traditional classroom setting.
important motivational factor, related to
success, is self-confidence.
As children become familiar with their
lines in a play, they become more confident in their use of language.
Even timid children, who generally withdraw from group activities and
are shy about talking English in front of their friends, will often
come out of their shells when given a role which they are capable of
comes naturally to children,
especially the younger ones and when playing a role they easily shed
their shyness and inhibitions. As they discover that they can be
anything, just by pretending, children grow in self-esteem.
power of the persona is such that children who might otherwise be
hesitant about speaking in public are often able to do so
unselfconsciously when playing a part.
How to get
started with ESL plays
let's look at where to start. If you have not yet introduced your
class to drama there are many circle games that you can use to initiate
dramatic play. Violin Spolin's Improvisational Theatre Games are a good
way to start as they help
the children relax, encourage them to use
their imagination and help them
become more confident.
one of Spolin's circle games the group stands
in a circle. The first child turns to the right and makes a simple
movement, the child on the right repeats the movement, then gives a new
movement to the child on his right and so on until everyone has had a
This game can be played with sounds as well - start off by making
them non-verbal. As the children become more proficient at this game
the movements and sounds can be accumulated, with each additional sound
and movement eventually building the entire sequence into a form of
dance. A verbal version of the game could combine the vocabulary you
plan on using in a play with the movements.
is also an excellent way to practise language. Once the children know a
song and enjoy singing it, put the new words to the tune. Almost
anything is possible.
Jacques, Frere Jacques, becomes Eggs and bacon, for my breakfast
any trouble and is sung just as lustily! Put
some of the phrases found in the play before you even
script so that by the time you do introduce it the children know the
key vocabulary and phrases already. Have the children singing
in rounds and encourage raucous participation.
the children have begun to experience their ESL classroom as a fun
and safe environment and are beginning to understand the basics of
performing, it is time to introduce them to the real thing.
the right play is important. It should not only be age appropriate but
also appropriate for the language level of your students. It is also
important, of course, to ensure that the lines spoken in the play are
in keeping with the particular language areas you are teaching at the
- The plays
here are written especially for
ESL classrooms, for children aged 4 to 12 inclusive.
are short and repetitive and designed to involve
the whole group, no matter how big or how small.
combine fun and
movement with language usage carefully planned to provide optimal
speaking practice in real life contexts.
should be assigned
according to your students' language ability levels.
Children who are
more capable and more confident can be given more lines, while shyer
children or those with a more limited vocabulary can have fewer lines
to say, repeat lines said by other children or speak as part of a group.
play can be used for any number of
children. In a one to one situation where the
one role and the pupil takes the other lines and this is explained for
each play in the notes. The beauty of this is that if a child
does not show up to rehearsal or even to the final performance it does
not bring the whole show to a halt.
the script simple,
but develop it further or modify it if your students' proficiency or
lack of proficiency in English requires it. Some of the lines in the
play may be optional. Edit these freely to suit your needs, based on
the main idea. The
plays are written for beginners so if you
have intermediate students you will either be able to learn the plays
faster or you can add extra lines.
the play's vocab and phrases
you have decided on the play it is time to get down to the
nitty-gritty of rehearsals. While older and more capable students can
be given copies of the play to read this is generally not advisable for
younger and less capable children. For all students, no matter what
level they may be on, the emphasis should be on speaking, acting and
movement, not on reading lines. It's a matter of personal
choice but my own recommendation is not to give out written lines at
the vocabulary first. Use it in songs
and in games like Spolin's circle game and those in 176
English Language Games for Children or the preschool
games book; chant the words, stamp out the syllables, act
them out individually - this is really fun when using words
describing emotions and actions.
Now teach the key phrases.
the children are familiar with the separate
words let them start practicing the lines in the play. These
short sentences can also be practised in games. The idea is
not to have individual children word-perfect in their own roles but to
let the whole class experience using the sentences and vocabulary in
when all the children know the key words and
lines of the play should you put together all the elements -
words, expression and movement. Allow the children to use their own
creativity in setting the scene, deciding on props, costumes
Keep props simple.
Remember that, as far as the last two are concerned, these should be
kept very simple, using the "less is more" principle, and they only
need to be included in the final rehearsals.
will find that if you
give the children props too soon they can become very absorbed
by them and take a lot of time arranging them and so forth instead of
getting on with saying their lines! Therefore give out the props when
the play runs fluently. The addition of props is then a novel element
to keep the children's interest right through to the final performance.
absolutely vital to put on a performance, even if it's to
the class next door, because it
allows the children to feel the satisfaction of showing their
it is possible to invite parents to arrive earlier to collect
children from the last lesson of term if you give sufficient notice, or
arrange a special time. One can often perform the play at the school,
during assembly, or for a special performance. School heads are
generally proud to show off to parents so even if you are a visiting
teacher running after-school classes the head of school still sees this
as a plus that the school has to offer to prospective pupils and
tip regarding the actual performance: Don't
start the show with the play but instead have pupils sing a group song
or two with actions, play some vocabulary games in front of the
audience by way of a warm up and finish with the play. This helps the
children get used to suddenly being in front of an audience and will
mean they are much, much less likely to freeze up with nerves when it
comes to saying their lines.
of posters and invitations could
form the basis of another English lesson. If the prospective audience
has limited English skills perhaps a translation of the play could be
made available to them. I was once asked for subtitles by a parent,
which surprised me as the language in the play was so basic, but in
fact afterwards I realized that it is polite and helpful to acknowledge
the audience in this way.
video of the
play, if you can. Not only will the children love seeing
themselves act, it will
serve as useful revision whenever the children watch the
play. It will enable you to give them feedback later and will
provide you with a benchmark against which further development can be
determined, PLUS you can use it to market your lessons and find more
pupils. A recording of one of your plays is a testimony to
your success as a teacher.
plays build confidence to speak English:
The children in my beginners' English class had such fun doing yourfree
skit 'Ready Steady Go!' at their graduation last May that I was
pretty well obliged to buy the book so I could propose another skit at
the close of their summer session! They were begging me for a skit.
'The Robot' was perfect and so simple to do. It really helped the kids
build confidence in their ability to speak English. Thanks for making
us look good!"
Becky Good, Battambang, Cambodia
classes work so well...
Whenever you have any more ideas be sure to let me know. The storiesare
fantastic, the games are great and the
plays are wonderful !!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks so much for making my classes work so well.
language in every script...
I am currently playing the games with my daughter and she simply loves
them. Now I noticed there's a language trick
in every script "Where are you going?/What are you going to buy? /
you like versus Do you like?" They are smart choices and my daughter
And here is a little note I got from one of my 5-year-old pupils.
Heather Smith,Canterbury, UK
a sample play from the 29 ESL
plays - Ready Steady Go! Right
and save target as to save to your computer - itis a PDF so you need
Adobe Reader to read it.
Romania sent in a picture and says "I played ‘READY STADY GO!’ withmy
kids and they liked it very much - here they are in the bus ready to go
into the fantastic play world.".
Cristina Roig: Last week I did the plays Ready Steady go! And The
Restaurant with my class
(5 year’s old) they absolutely loved it, we had a lot of fun and the
were astonished of their capacity to start speaking some sentences in
(it is, after all, their first year). Your material is fantastic!"
ESL Plays forChildren -
Flexible Group Size
is written so that it can be performed by the teacher and pupilalone in
the case of a one to one situation, or by any number ofchildren up to a
maximum of about fifteen. The reason for themaximum number is
keep rehearsals fun and flowing and keep childrenheavily involved
rather than having too much hanging around waiting fora chance to say
ESL Plays - Funny
Skits and Scenes
are written with a humorous twist at the end, or are genuinelyquite
funny and cute.
ESL Plays for Children -
contains a lengthy tips section on how to go aboutrehearsals and
teaching the plays. One of the keys being topre-teach the
vocabulary before even starting the play, as well asthe key grammatical
phrases. Another key tip is to practiselittle and often
than spending a whole lesson on it, and to doeverything from memory -
no reading out of text.
Fun ESL plays -
are in an e-book format so you can download it instantly and
paynopostage, no waiting and you can get started right away. This
alsoallows us to make it available to you at a very reasonable price.
format can be downloaded to your computer and consulted online aswell
as printed. If you buy a new computer or move somewhereyoucan
unregister your copy and re-register it again somewhere else - youcan
move the book an unlimited amount of times.
for children, flexible group size from 1 to 15 pupils, withadaptable
These 29 plays are fantastic value at LESS THAN a
$23.97USD! You have a choice of USD or Euro currencies on the order
30 plays as a curriculum to keep you occupied for at least a yearof
teaching, supplemented with games and songs, or fit them in withyour
course book. $23.97 USD is great value for so much
fun material as
you'll get so much pleasure from preparing these plays andyour private
students or small groups of children will really enjoy learning with
in this way.
purchase is ABSOLUTELY RISK FREE because it comes with a 2
trial period and a full money back guarantee.Try
it out and make up your own mind.
your e-book now
“ESL Plays For Children”
order now with Pay Pal's
secureserverand remember if you arenot satisfied just let us know and I
will refund you in full.
order by post? Click here
print out an order form.
order by phone? Please email me to arrange a call
that suits both
our time zones - use the contact page to email or info
be able to download the plays immediately on processing of yourorder.
Teaching English Games
P.S. I am
sure you will have as much fun, and feel as much satisfaction,
using these fun skits and plays with your pupils as I have…