Creating a soap opera in class is good fun and allows students to practice a wide range of English skills in the process of coming up with, and acting out an original soap opera scene. Almost all cultures have some form of soap opera on TV, in fact most watch soap operas imported from the Hollywood. Often, you will find that students are familiar with a particular soap opera or series and can use these as a starting point to discuss writing their own soap opera scene.
Creating a soap opera in class can be as easy as asking students to remember a scene and having them write out the script and perform. However, I like spinning out the process into a real production including props and even costumers. This sort of involvement in a final "polished" product helps students motivate and really strive to come up with something original, all the while conversing and collaborating in English. What could be a better way of helping students learn to communicate in English? Finally, if this lesson seems too daunting to students, you can also use a truncated version focusing on writing scripts based on scenes taken from their favorite films.
Here's a short list of what the students will work on during this activity:
- Conversation and Collaboration - Teamwork with students brainstorming the scene from a soap opera
- Writing - Writing the script together
- Idiomatic Language - Coming up with phrases and idioms that would be used in everyday life
- Pronunciation - Acting will help pronunciation skills, especially stress and intonation when working on delivering the line
- Confidence Building - Getting up and acting in front of others in English and getting positive feedback will greatly enhance confidence in English skills
Aim: Building conversational and team working skills in English
Activity: Create and act out a scene from a soap opera
Level: Intermediate to advanced level learners
Class Session 1
- Have a discussion as a class asking students about soap operas. Here are a few questions to get things started:
- What is a soap opera? Can you describe a soap opera?
- Describe a character from your favorite soap opera.
- How are soap operas in your country different from Hollywood soap operas?
- What type of typical scenes can you think of from soap operas?
- As a class, brainstorm an outline for a typical scene in a soap opera, write this on the board.
- Put students into small groups of three or four students, each student will eventually have to take on a role in the final production of the scene.
- Ask students to brainstorm their own typical soap opera scene with the number of roles matching the number of people in their group. You may have to make clear that students should only be writing out a rough draft of the scene at this point.
- After students have finished their short scenarios, ask them to share their ideas with their classmates. Extend this if there is time by asking students to get into groups with students from each scene. Students explain their stories to the others in their group.
Class Session 2
- This session will focus on writing the script for the soap opera. Discuss typical dialogue from soap operas. Solicit these lines from students and write them on the board.
- Ask students to regroup and write lines together based on their original outline of the soap opera scene.
- Move about the room helping students improve their scripts with suggestions of idiomatic expressions, varied verbs for better expressing dramatic situations, etc.
- Correct each group's script. In error correction, it's a good idea to just underline mistakes or use a type of common shorthand for correction, so that they can correct their own work.
- Have students finalize their scripts with the corrections.
Class Session 3
- This session can be dedicated to rehearsing the script with the goal of performing the scene in front of class from memory. Depending on the amount of time you have, encourage students to bring in props or even costumes.
- Have students perform in front of their classmates. Almost everyone has a smart phone these days, so make sure to have a video made for students' enjoyment. You could even post it online!