Using Skits in the ESL Classroom

The best ESL class that I ever taught in China involved a series of skits that I did for students which ranged in age from six to sixteen. I used the ESL skits to teach a lesson about good manners and the students as well as the teachers loved every minute of it. Here is what I did:

Skit #1 – Using a broom, I pretended to be a little boy doing his weekly chores. At first, I acted as if I had a bad attitude by frowning and complaining loudly about having to do this ‘stupid’ work. At one point, I even threw the broom down. Later, I repeated my actions this time whistling and smiling and doing a much more thorough job. After the skit, I asked my students which act they though showed good manners and a good attitude. We then discussed the value of having helping parents around the house.

Skit #2 — This time, I pretended to be a little boy who was eating dinner. I chewed loudly and opened my mouth widely all the while stuffing my ‘face’ with food. I put my elbows on the table and allowed food to drop on my shirt as I ate. I made all kinds of rude noises; the students roared with laughter. Later, I repeated the skit but this time I ate slowly and chewed quietly with my mouth closed. After the acts, I talked with my students about the importance of dinner table manners.

Skit #3 — For the last ESL skit, I sat down in the midst of my students at one of their desks and had another student pretend to be the teacher. I told my students that I was also a student just like them. While the ‘teacher’ taught, I reached into another boy’s desk and started punching him (lightly) in the shoulder. Again, my students roared with laughter as this happened. Later, I repeated the skit and sat quietly paying close attention to the teacher.

I performed these skits in 26 classes and they were hits every time. For the first time ever, I was able to make a fool out of myself and really enjoy doing it. I let my inhibitions go and found that not only did my students enjoy the class but I really enjoyed teaching as well. Through exaggerated actions and noises, I was able to get my message across to the students; they were talking about my skits for weeks afterwards.

You have to ‘forget about yourself’ sometimes in order to have an effective ESL class. The more that you can ‘get into’ what you are doing the more enthusiastic your ESL students will be about participating or at the least, paying attention. Students of all ages love to see their teachers act and sing; it makes the classroom environment much more lighthearted.

Feel free to use the above skits in your ESL classrooms. Leave us a comment and let us know how it goes!

6 Responses to Using Skits in the ESL Classroom

  1. Sebastian Forks says:

    In think its a great way to entertain as well as teach and I know the kids love the skits. However when it comes to the discussion part how do you go about making them talk? I’ve tried asking leading question on their thoughts and putting them into groups to write what was appropriate and what was not in each skit. However actually getting them to say more than one word answers I’m finding difficult. I’m teaching 3rd and 6th grade in a public primary school, I’ve only had a few lessons with them and the concept of open talks or even trying to string a sentence of their own seems to fly over their heads.

    Thanks for sharing

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  2. patty says:

    Dear Robert,
    I’m not a first year ESL teacher, but it is the first time for me to organize and lead a drama club for ESL/EFL. Your ideas are great, and thank you for allowing me to try them out. I’ll let you know!

    Patty from Germany

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  3. Merry says:

    Hi! Thanks for putting your skits on the web for me. I just wanted to share with you that your skits inspired an idea! I am thinking of doing a segment (of a few weeks) on drama. I thought it would be great to introduce the class to the idea of drama by using one of these skits.

    “Hello class, today we will be… hmmm? what’s this?” picks up imaginary item off the table, “wow” sniffs. eyes pop open. looks around to see who’s watching…and then go into the eating skit with belching and gestures.

    I’m a first year ESL teacher, learning by the ropes, so I appreciate your contribution to my class. Thank you. I love this statement that you made: Students of all ages love to see their teachers act and sing; it makes the classroom environment much more lighthearted. This is great encouragement!

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  4. Robert Vance says:

    @Anil,

    Thanks for the comment. Glad you could use some of the tips. If you think of anything yourself, feel free to share them with us here

    [Reply]

  5. Anil Sawant says:

    The reading on the skits was really good. Thanks for the tips. I would like to use one of them or even hink of something of my own. Great learning. Thanks a ton. Anil

    [Reply]

  6. [...] you students to act in class. Recently, I wrote an article about using skits in the ESL classroom. Give your students scenarios or little plays to work on together and then perform in front of the [...]

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