Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Centenary Competition for Schools 2013 – Project 2

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This is the description of the second Project in the currently running Centenary Competition for Schools 2013.

Project 2: Friends forever (ages 12+)

Description of project: Produce a short play with the theme of friendship. This could be performed in front of the school and/or recorded.

Age group: All activities are suitable for children aged 12+. Remember that some of the activities can be adapted to suit younger children. For example, for Activity 1 you can ask students to tell you who their best friends are and what qualities they have.

Activity 1:

Ask your class about the qualities they look for in a good friend – you could make a list of these qualities on the whiteboard (for example, they must be honest, kind, fun, reliable, trustworthy, have a good sense of humour, etc.). Either ask your students to write about their best friend’s qualities or get them to write about themselves. If you choose the second option, you could read out the descriptions that students have written about themselves and get the other students to guess who you are talking about.

Focus: Speaking and Listening

Activity 2:

Listen to some episodes of ‘The Flatmates’ (on BBC World Service’s Learning English website Please note that some episodes of ‘The Flatmates’ may have quite difficult language or may not have an appropriate topic for the age group you are teaching, so make sure you choose an appropriate episode for your students. You can download the scripts for most of the episodes. You may want to hand out the scripts after they have listened to the episode and talk about what makes a good play. Focus on what makes good dialogue. Do people talk differently when putting on a play than they do in real life? (In most plays, the characters usually talk about things that move the story on so a lot of the boring/repetitive things that people often say in everyday life will not be in a play – this is to keep the audience interested.)

Focus: Listening

Activity 3:

Explain to your students that they are going to write their own play. As a class activity, brainstorm the following points with the students:
The setting – ‘The Flatmates’ is set in a flat; where could your play be set? A school, café, shop, etc.

The main characters – think of three to four different characters (two men and two women of different ages who are friends, for example).

The scenario – what exciting thing could happen at the start of the play? For example, in a shop, some money has gone missing from the till; or in a school, the characters find themselves locked in a classroom.

The title – this should be easier to come up with when you have decided on the points above.

The first line of the play – for example, ‘Oh no, the door is locked. What are we going to do?’

Focus: Speaking and Listening

Activity 4:

Write the play. The way you do this will depend very much on the age/ability of your class. You could put students in groups, nominate one student as the writer and get the students to write the play following on from the first line that you created together (see above). If your students need more guidance, you could write the play as a class, getting them to shout out lines as the play evolves. Follow on from the first line of dialogue and write the whole script on the whiteboard.

Focus: Writing

Activity 5:

When you have a script or scripts, it’s time to rehearse the play. Ask your students to practise in groups with the scripts they have written in their groups or the class script (make sure that all characters get a speaking part). For the first few times of reading the script, they should be sitting down and working on their pronunciation, intonation and projection. If the teacher notices any instances where intonation affects the meaning then they can point this out to the whole class (for example: ‘Really’ said with a rising intonation shows surprise, but if you use falling then rising intonation it suggests that you don’t believe the person you are speaking to). Encourage students to amend the script slightly if they think the characters might say something different or if they find it difficult to say certain parts. After students have read the scripts through a few times and when they feel confident, get them to move around and act out the play. Encourage groups to think about where their audience is so that they speak clearly and can be understood.

Focus: Speaking

Activity 6:

Before they perform, ask your students to design posters and leaflets to publicise the performance. Show them some examples of good posters advertising plays. Help the students with the language they need to encourage people to attend. For example, the imperative works well, as do questions – ‘Do you love plays? Well, come to see the world premiere of …’ When the posters are ready, put them up around the school.

Focus: Writing

Activity 7:

Ask your students to perform their play in front of an audience, perhaps including their parents. You could video the performance and share it with your Cambridge English Penfriends partner school (to do this you will have to match with a partner school). If some students are not performing then encourage them to operate the video camera, or help backstage. Let them practise with the camera beforehand.

Focus: Speaking and Listening

Activity 8:

During the performance, a student could take photos. These photos could then be used to create a photo display (a kind of photo- story of the play). Students can then add dialogue to the photos by sticking on speech bubbles. This will enable them to revisit language that they used in the performance.

Focus: Language review

Activity 9:

Organise an awards ceremony at the end of the project and give personalised certificates to students who you think did well in certain areas. For example, certificates for writing some excellent lines of dialogue, skilled acting, accurate pronunciation or voice projection.

Focus: Language review

Activity 10:

Find some examples of play/film reviews. Ask your students to read the reviews and highlight the language that is used to praise and criticise. Ask your students to write a short review of their play for their local newspaper. They can be as critical as they like.

Focus: Reading and Writing

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

June 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

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