Number one for English language teachers

Mini-plays: Introduction

Our authors talk about the concept behind the mini-plays on onstopenglish and give a detailed explanation of the format of the plays and associated lesson plans.

The mini-plays are written with a view to not only exposing students to authentic language in the classroom, but also to give them valuable insight into real, social and cultural issues affecting Britain today. These short plays address relevant, modern day issues in British society and the language that goes with it. The mini-plays will present learners with examples of colloquial spoken English in everyday contexts that exemplify common aspects of contemporary British life and issues that are the subject of discussion in the media, at the workplace and in the home. They are written from the perspective of an eavesdropper – someone who has overheard these snippets of conversation on a train, at a bus-stop, in a supermarket, at the pub and so on. In terms of the learner, the plays contain examples of everyday colloquial language and features of natural speech, such as ellipsis. They also expose the learner to a variety of regional accents.

Each play is accompanied by a worksheet with a variety of exercises designed to exploit the context of the play, the topic or topics of the conversation, items of vocabulary such as phrasal verbs, colloquial expressions and collocations, and grammatical features such as question tags and ellipsis. Some of the plays also have exercises that focus on cohesion. The worksheet exercises could be done as classroom activities, using pair or group work as a appropriate, or could be set as homework tasks if learners have access to computers at home. A full answer key is provided for each worksheet and there is also a set of teacher’s notes drawing attention to particular items of vocabulary that may not appear in the worksheet exercises and providing additional background information or cultural information about certain words and expressions.

Top tips for exploiting the plays in class are also provided. These include activities such as asking learners to describe the appearance, personality and social status of the characters in a play, asking learners to finish a play off in their own words or change its ending, and using a particular play alongside a news article on the same subject and holding a discussion on the topic to link the content with the learners’ experiences and views.

The plays themselves have all been recorded so they can be used for a variety of listening activities, as well as for practising features of pronunciation such as stress and intonation. Teachers could also encourage their learners to access the recordings for self-study. The transcript for each play occupies approximately two pages of A4 paper, which equates to around three minutes of audio running time.


About the authors

Tim Bowen is freelance teacher-trainer, writer and translator based in Hastings, south-east England. Tim has been an author on onestopenglish for many years, contributing a wide variety of content to the site, including news lessons and Your English articles. Read more about Tim here.

Liz Plampton teaches general English at Bell International School in Bedgebury, Kent. As a playwright and professional actress, she specializes in using drama to teach English in the classroom.

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Readers' comments (17)

  • Hi Sara,

    Very sorry to hear that! I think it might be because you need to clear your cache or history. Can you try going to your browser settings to clear your history, closing and opening your browser again, and then try logging back in?

    Let us know if that works. If that doesn't work please email help@macmillan.com and we will help you further.

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  • I have just subscribed to a year's access to onestopenglish in order to access some mini plays and each title I click on tells me there is some error and the link is not working! I'm pretty frustrated! Sara vb

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  • Hi pequita,

    Thanks for your feedback. The lesson information for the mini plays and other reader lessons can be found below the PDFs for each lesson in the 'Related resources' section.

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • a general comment (and frustration!) why are the readers, mini plays, soap opera etc etc not labelled by level? .. that would make things so much easier for the busy teacher ! thanks !!

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  • Thank you for your reply.
    I am familiar with the fact that the world is progressing towards the epoch of English as a Lingua Franca, as a response to the underlying need for one global language, which presents unprecedented possibilities for mutual understanding, and that ELT methodology needs to adjust to cater for this.
    However, for my particular students, the resource like this is highly relevant. I teach ESOL (English for people who have come to settle in the UK) at a local college in East Sussex, and my students are Level 1 and above. They have an adequate command of English “as a Lingua Franca”, and such activities as these mini-plays is the next step for them to help them understand British culture from the inside out, integrate into the community, lose the ‘outsider’ feeling and make British friends.
    As a linguist and an L2 speaker of English, who has lived in the UK for 16 years, I understand the value of these resources for ESOL students. I have learned a few new expressions myself! I hope you are able to create more of these in the future. Many thanks. Elena

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  • Hi there,

    Many thanks for the lovely feedback. It's really nice to know that you and your students enjoy these so much. We do not have any immediate plans to make any more mini-plays that are quite so British as a lot of English learned nowadays is more global with English as a Lingua Franca becoming more the norm. However, your feedback has been passed on to our commissioning team for future publishing plans.

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Thank you very much for this fantastic series! From the linguistic point of view, your mini-plays are an absolute gem! I haven’t come across a resource like this before. They have this ‘insider’ feel to them that makes them ‘very British’ in such a funny and educational way! My students and I absolutely love them. Are you planning to create more mini-plays? I really hope so! Please!

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  • Hi there,

    Thanks for the feedback. The mini-plays aren't numbered so we're not sure exactly what you're referring to here. All the mini-plays on the site are available on this page:

    http://www.onestopenglish.com/skills/listening/mini-plays/

    Hope that helps.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • I can't find mini-plays 11 and 12. Are they available anywhere else on the site? Thanks.

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  • Hi Robert,
    Apologies for this oversight - you should now be able to access The Clothes Shop lesson plan without registering on the site.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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