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.