While teaching, you have probably thought more than once how to make your lessons more and more interesting and how to make them memorable. You might have asked your students about their interests, you might have searched for the ideas on the Internet and you might have read thousands of handbooks. But sometimes it is still not enough. The situation is more difficult when you are asked to replace a teacher who is absent and make a lesson with students you do not know. It happens very often that they are not prepared for anything and they are unwilling to work.

But in such cases you should remember about a recipe for a good English lesson. It is like this:

  • 1. a topic close to your students’ interests
  • 2. activities adjusted to your students’ abilities
  • 3. positive feedback
  • 4. some drama
  • 5. some movement
  • 6. some songs
  • 7. some spoons of good humour
When you mixed all these ingredients well and in the good proportion, your lesson will be a real success.


Using drama and songs in lessons is still not so popular. Some teachers hardly ever use them because they do not consider them to be useful to acquire a language. But using such elements at our lessons, we encourage students to learn English in an active way. It is a very motivating and realistic source of language. Since their childhood, kids have liked performing and acting out. They practised it in their mother tounge in kindergarten and primary school. But then, in middle school they become more ashamed to perform. But if they get used to such activities, it will become natural for them. And they will really enjoy it.

While doing drama activities, they will practise fluency in speaking, rhythm, rhymes, mimes, gestures and acting abilities. These issues help students express sentences in English in a meaningful and understandable way.

Moreover, while teaching through drama, we also:
  • teach vocabulary in context
  • teach grammar structur
  • develope imagination of students
  • integrate all language skills.

If you want to teach through drama, you can find some examples of plays in coursebooks. But you can also adopt some authentic material, a story, a sketch or a play, which for sure will be more challenging for you students. If your students have a good command of English, they can try to write a script on their own.

When you decide on a material, first you should concentrate on new vocabulary and key words. Pupils can remember them by preparing short dialogues, doing crosswords and other exercises. Then, pupils should be presented with the play, with the intonation and pronunciation. After that, we can discuss the characters and decide who will play which role.

Do not forget about decorations and costumes. When it is ready, you can start your rehearsals and practise till the big day of a performance.


Songs are on the contrary more popular at English lessons. Teachers try to use them more often, maybe because of the fact, that they do not consume so much time as drama activities.

Songs are also a good source of teaching English, because they combine rhythm, rhymes and music which make the new vocabulary easy to remember. Words, phrases and even grammar srtuctures which are repeated so kids acquire them easily. Moreover, they know where to put the stress and they practise the proper pronunciation.

Singing at lessons introduces a lot of fun, no matter how old the students are, they are not afraid and ashamed of singing. Especially, when we choose a song from the top list. In this way, we present an effective and enjoyable way of playing with a language, reinforcing grammar structures and developing all language skills. It helps students remember the meaning of new words.

When you decide to introduce a song at your lesson, it is not enough to prepare a handout with the lyrics and a CD with a song. You should think about activities which can help students memorise new words and expressions. You can arrange the activities to:
  • complete with the missing words
  • replace the wrong words with the correct ones
  • put the versus into the correct order

While working with a song, you can also practise grammar, for example “Lemon Tree” to practise present continuous, or “Yesterday” or “Yellow submarine” to practise past simple.

Using songs and drama in the lesson can be a joyful activity to develop a positive attitude to language learning. Pupils are usualyy very enthusiastic about singing and acting so do not feel afraid of losing your lesson and wasting the time, because very often they will remember more than from the formal lesson.

Magdalena Pakulska – Poland

References: “The teacher” English Language Teaching nr 2(26)2005

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