Famous Stories Short Play

Wei-Ni (Michelle) Chen, Tokai University, Kogakuin University

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Drama, play, famous stories
  • Learner English Level: Pre-intermediate and above
  • Learner Maturity: High school, university
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Activity Time: 90 minutes
  • Materials: Blackboard, blank A4 paper, scissors

As a review activity, groups of students adapt a well-known story and turn it into a play that they perform in front of the class. Target language from past lessons is given to students to use in the play. Recently, drama activities have begun to gain weight in the language classroom as they have been found to assist L2 learning (Barbee, 2014). These activities can range from short roleplays to longer play productions. Through the process of writing a play, students make use of the language they know to create a story that can be understood by the audience. Performing a play has also been found to improve speaking skills such as fluency and pronunciation (Barbee, 2014). 

This activity can be done as a review lesson. Students are given target language they have encountered in the past and are then asked to fit the language into a story they know. The goal of this activity is to turn the story into a play and enact it. This is a guide for the preparation lesson, which takes one full 90-minute class, and performances are done a week later.


Step 1: You will need five strips of paper for each group of four or five students in your class, so cut out enough strips of paper.

Step 2: Choose target language from previous lessons and write something on each strip of paper. All strips of paper should have different words or expressions written.


Step 1: Brainstorm names of famous stories and write them on the board. They can include Japanese stories.

Step 2: Circle the most popular story from the list.

Step 3: Ask who the characters of the story are and write down the names on the board. 

Step 4: Put students into groups of four or five.

Step 5: Give each group five strips of paper that you have prepared.

Step 6: Tell the students that they should turn the story into a play lasting between five and seven minutes that they will perform the following week. As all words or expressions on the paper strips have to be used in the play, students should make changes to the original storyline to make the language fit in the story. Tell them each person is required to speak for about the same length of time during the performance. Encourage them to memorise their lines as much as possible.

Step 7: Give students about an hour to work on the script. Monitor and encourage students to be creative.

Step 8: After an hour, give students the rest of the class time to rehearse.

Step 9: At the end of the class, remind students to use their own time to memorise the script and rehearse.


In order to give a good performance, students have to learn to work together and assist each other. I have once modified this activity and given it as an end-of-term assignment to first-year university students and received a lot of positive feedback. Through working collaboratively with others, I noticed that the students became more autonomous learners. It also helped the shy students to gain more confidence in speaking English. It is a great way to wrap up the term on a high note.


Barbee, M. (2014). Furthering the case for drama in the second language classroom. Polyglossia, 26, 13-26.