Drama activities are a great way to add dynamic to any classroom, especially to ESL classes. ESL students can not only overcome their shyness of speaking a language not native to them, but they also practice their English language skills in circumstances they might not be a part of often. This helps them become more fluent and expand their vocabularies.
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One great way to help students practice vocabulary is by playing mime. Choose a student and either let him mime a word or action of his choice, or have him draw from a container with written assignments. Then have the rest of the students guess what the mime is representing. Playing mime also helps students be more confident, which translates into their abilities to speak English with others. You can give the students objects, actions or feelings to represent.
Professions Role Play
For this activity, give each student a "profession." They can be doctors, police officers, secretaries, etc. Then have the students mingle and talk about their responsibilities. You can also give them more specifics, like what they were doing at a certain time or situation or how they were feeling. For example, assign a nervous surgeon during surgery or a football coach confident his team will win the Super Bowl. Make sure they engage in conversation and not give a presentation; this way the activity prepares them for real life situations when they cannot prepare in advance.
Have the students write their own plays in groups, following your directions and specifics. Then they can prepare to present it to the rest of the class. A scripted play helps students practice pronunciation, as they repeat the same words many times, but it also helps their confidence and fluency. Writing plays also helps them practice writing and grammar. Some ideas for plays can be stories from books, cultural tales or funny everyday situations.
A puppet theatre is perfect for shy students or a young ESL class. Have students create a story or use a script. They can also improvise situations with your lead. A puppet theatre helps students become more confident and fluent than when they act because they are behind curtains. You might have students make their own puppets, which is especially fun for a young class. Students can also present the show to another class or group.
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