One Act Plays - Teacher's Notes
One Act Plays are designed to provide a selection of dialogues for use in the classroom. It is based on the principle of group work and role playing, with the aim of catering to Oral English practice.
Each one act play is designed to provide between 15 and 20 minutes of actual talking time for the groups. The dialogues take place in real life, practical, situations in the attempt to establish an interesting story.
At the same time, the dialogue tries to be informative, educational and challenging. The Teacher should develop a set of questions to accompany the stories, but focusing on the students’ comprehension of the subject being discussed.
Each discussion deliberately incorporates some common English idiomatic speech as well as a number of words to help extend the students’ vocabulary.
Some of the plays can be divided into parts or used as continuous dialogues for the whole 15 to 20 minutes.
The basic philosophy for this idea is to maximize the speaking time for each group of students to cover a 45 minute lesson. Every play involves characters of each gender but there is no reason to maintain any specific gender role. By the same token, the class is free to change the names and gender of any of the characters.
The teacher has several options for using this material, depending on the English speaking ability of the students. Irrespective of the approach used by the Teacher, it would be expected that a general outline of the dialogue would be explained to the class at the start of the lesson.
Ideally, the teacher could divide the class into a number of groups and provide each group with a printed set of the scripts to cover each of the characters. One student in each group could be designated “The Director” and have their own copy of the script to prompt the players to come in on cue. After some practice sessions, one group could be used to perform the ‘play’ for the benefit of the class.
The questions would involve the whole class and could be asked by the performers, one at a time, through a random selection from the “audience” or, vice versa. The teacher would obviously, monitor this and get involved in developing the answers to enhance the comprehension. The teacher could also present alternative scenarios to the dialogue action and use that to test the comprehension. It is possible for the teacher to become part of the role play and therefore, directly involved.
Obviously, there are no pre-determined conditions as to how these dialogues can be used and every teacher will have ideas about how they might best be adapted to their classes.
This sort of group work assumes a classroom with moveable furniture or the ability to move out of the classroom and work outside. As a general rule, many classes at university, and senior middle school, tend to have between 45 and 60 students. These classes can be divided into 4, 5 or 6 groups which creates a workable group size for most of these plays.
With this sort of group work, the teacher would move from group to group, helping with pronunciation, checking answers to the questions, explaining meanings and, generally, supporting the “Directors”.
These one act plays are equally applicable to English Writing classes where a group could do the role play for the class and the questions answered as a writing exercise.
(Based on the original Teacher’s Notes accompanying Graham Paterson's book, Speaking English in Groups. (2008) Beijing. Foreign Language Press. ISBN 978-7-119-05330-1)