The Internet TESL Journal

Videotaping an English Mini-drama in Your Classroom

David G. Magnusson
GGC01132 [at]

Using a camcorder in class is an effective teaching tool because it captures the students' attention. For the past two years I've used my camcorder to record an English drama performed by each of my freshmen and sophomore oral English classes. I'm convinced it works since students often take the trouble to tell me how much they enjoyed the play later on in the course or after the course is finished.

Here are some guidelines I usually follow:

Choose a short, action-packed play, a one-page play is best. Since I try to get the play done in one class period (90 minutes) anything longer than that will be too much. (My favorite play is "The Three Goats" in FIRSTHAND ACCESS (Lingual House)). Any action (walking, jumping, flying, fighting) is what makes the play really fun.

Warn students ahead of time you're planning to use your camcorder This allows students to dress up if they want.

Classroom Presentation

Since most camcorders can be attached directly to TVs for playback, it's usually no trouble to show the class their performances. I usually do so the next time the class meets.


1. Time management is critical. A rough guide is as follows: Getting organized and practicing: 30-40 minutes, rehearsal: 30 minutes, show time: 20-30 minutes. This time allotment is for a class of 40 students. Smaller classes would ta ke less time. In this case, you can spend more time on practice and rehearsal. In any case, remember to keep things moving!

2. Make sure the climax of the play is emphasized. Encourage students to be dramatic at this scene. Tell students that "This is the highlight."

3. Some classes may initally balk at the idea of being recorded. Assure them that it will be fun, and that you will show them their performances. I wouldn't record any one who really objected, though.


I don't evaluate students on their acting skills, but I usually ask a few comprehension questions about the play on a quiz or test.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. II, No. 10, October 1996