Proposing to learn English using theatre for teens could be tricky since they are often preoccupied with being cool in front of their peers. However, having your teen students make up their own short play to keep them interested can be fun and creative. At least that way, if it is uncool and boring, they only have themselves to blame, LOL!
Theatre for teens guidelines
Students work in groups of three or four. Mix the stronger students up with the others since they can help weaker students. In addition, they can be group leaders and take more prominent roles in the skit they create together.
Few students are natural playwrights, especially in a foreign language. Therefore, give guidelines or a framework where pupils can easily fill in the blanks. For example, here are two light-hearted ways of producing short plays or skits.
Skit creation option 1
Provide a short opening dialogue. Think of something dramatic and ambiguous for the opening that stimulates the imagination and will be more likely to give rise to varied outcomes. For example: « Listen, what’s that? » « Wow, what is it? » « It sounds like… » then pupils decide how the conversation will continue. The whole skit, including opening dialogue, can take between 60 and 90 seconds to perform to encourage students to come up with at least a minute of content. Allow five minutes for students to work in groups while you circulate, listening in, and ensuring groups are on target with the task. After three minutes, tell the class they have two more minutes to prepare. Let them know when they have one minute left.
Finally, watch the skits.
Skit creation option 2
Tell students that their skit can be about anything, as long as it is one-minute long minimum and contains these words: rhinoceros, pasta, phone, message, and sock. (Change the vocabulary as you like).
Alternatively, say the skit must contain a specific sentence, such as « Johnny Depp (insert person’s name) would never have done that. »
Allow five minutes. Circulate and observe. Warn students at each minute how much time they have left. This type of activity gets better as students practise it. They gradually become more creative and less inhibited.