Quickstart guide

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Implement Drama Techniques into the Language Classroom

Starting to implement drama exercises in the classroom can be intimidating at first. To make the process easier this section includes a visual and written guide on how to start. The key to a successful lesson using drama techniques is to keep a yes-and attitude and focus on working together to make something. Just remember there are no mistakes, just happy accidents.

Chapter 1: Visual Guide

A visual representation on the quickstart guide that is detailed in the following text
A visual representation on the quickstart guide that is detailed in the following text

Chapter 2: Basic Structure

Here is a six-step guide on how to structure dramatic work into your lesson. This guide is designed to be easy to use and remember. The exercises listed in the steps below can be switched out depending on what you need for your class. Theoretical justifications for using drama techniques in the classroom can be found in the Why section on our website.

Step 1: Breathe

Start with breathing exercises like Breathing and Stretching. Taking a few deep breaths and doing some stretches can help you and your students relax and prepare for drama exercises. A relaxed body and mind are more ready to receive information and take part in exercises.

Step 2: Move

Doing exercises that focus on moving, such as Walking and Opposites, helps wake up the body and get your students out of their comfort zones. Exercises that require little to no speaking are a useful and safe place to start implementing drama activities in the classroom. It is easier to start speaking if moving is the main objective. Whole class exercises where everyone is doing something at the same time are also helpful to ease students into the dramatic space.

Step 3: Names

Name games such as Name + Movement are an excellent way to get people to know each other and make them trust each other. Once the students get to know each other better they are ready to try other exercises, as knowing the names of the other people in the group will reduce anxiety.

Step 4: Warm-ups

Warm-ups are an essential component of the drama process. The exercises listed before: Breathing and Stretching, Walking and Opposites, and Name + Movement are all examples of warm-ups. You can skip several shorter exercises to fit in a longer one, but warm-ups should always be completed. They are the airlock between the “real world” and the safe space of the theater. Spending a lot of time just doing warm-ups or making warm-ups a regular part of the classroom will help ease students into the drama-making process.

Students come in all shapes, sizes, and social skills. Some might be reluctant to try out drama exercises, but by slowly acclimatizing students to the process, they will feel more comfortable than being asked to stand up and perform a Shakespearean monologue out of the blue. Start small and work your way up to larger and more complicated exercises. You can even start with using an exercise during role call like Mood-board or Wrong Answers Only. Having already said just one word or sentence in front of others makes it easier for students to continue talking or discussing later in class.

Once the class is thoroughly warmed up and has started getting to know each other, you can move on to a lively discussion about the study material or try out more drama exercises. You can combine any shorter or longer exercises that fit your class or topic. You can find a few examples of exercise combinations in chapter 4.

Step 5: Exercises

Whole group exercises are good ice breakers before pair or small group work. When you ask the class to “find a partner” or “find a group,” have them try and pair up with someone they have not worked with before, or in a while.

Exercises that require little speaking but will induce a laugh are a good way to get people to shake their nervousness. Try 60 Seconds of Staring. Holding eye contact with others without feeling awkward can be difficult for some. However, to speak effectively, you must be able to look at the person you are speaking to.

Once the students have done exercises focused on the body, move on to the voice. Exercises such as What are you doing? that focus on partners or small groups doing simple improvisations are a good way to segue into doing more improvisational work.

Whole group exercises such as Rapid Fire Freeze can help students get used to being watched and watch and listen to others. You can have smaller groups perform for each other or have the entire class play along together. It is important to keep a quick pace and switch out performers regularly so that no one feels awkward for too long and everyone gets a chance to participate in the exercise.

Step 6: Reflections

Ending a class or a series of exercises with a reflection can be helpful. Reflections can also be done mid-exercise or by pausing the improvisation or drama and discussing what is happening with the class. Although reflections are often de-briefing activities, like Writing In Role, they can also reflect what cultural or language items were used or introduced in the drama, such as different cultural perceptions or grammar structures. Students become more active participants in their learning by reflecting on their work.

Chapter 3 – General Tips

Here are general tips that will help you with implementing dramatic techniques in your classroom. Having a pre-planned focus, taking a part in the process and, having a flexible mindset and schedule are important parts of drama work and will make teaching using drama easier.

Have a Focus

It is good to have a pre-planned focus on what you are working on and why. As the facilitator, you must remember the work's objective and the time allotted. A warm-up that feeds into the subject matter you will explore can help set the tone for the class. The exercises you choose should build up to some outcome, whether a written script, a performance for the other class members, or a discussion that leads to a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Students should feel like they achieved something by working together at the end of the class.

Your part

It is vital that you, as the facilitator, take part in the drama process. Your attitude and feelings towards the drama influence the attitude of the participants. Suppose you feel hesitant or think that the exercises are pointless. In that case, the students will pick up on that and reflect the same hesitation or pointlessness, leading to an unproductive session. On the other hand, when you are motivated and exited for the lesson at hand, your students are more likely to engage in the material with positivity and a higher degree of enthusiasm.

You will need to be most active at the start of the class and focus and reassure the class during the warm-up. Although some people will always be nervous, some encouragement can go a long way to get people to participate. When the warm-up is done and the class has moved on to the main body of the work, you can hand over some of the responsibility to the students.


Although a determined focus and active participation in the class can lead to a well-structured and beneficial class experience, it is essential to keep a flexible mindset. Listen to the students and try to adapt the exercises to what is happening in the room. It is difficult to predict precisely how long exercises will take, so make sure that your lesson plan has some room to contract or expand. Have some extra activities in mind that can be added if needed and many possible endpoints in the exercises where the students can stop their work without causing too much dissatisfaction. Try to leave enough time at the end of class to reflect on the dramatic activities and ensure the students pay attention to their learning. Having a yes-and attitude will help you go far in the world of drama. Listening to others and adding on to their work is beneficial to both students and teachers.

Chapter 4 - Combinations

Here are four examples of combinations you can try out in your classroom. The first one is a good combination for groups that do not know each other very well or are beginners in using drama techniques. These exercises focus on getting to know one another and to try out the drama making process. The second combination focuses on class management. The exercises there focus on bringing the energy up or down based on what suits your needs. The third combination focuses on reflections and delving deeper into a scene from a novel or a historical event. The final combination is about script writing. This combination will take longer than the others and can be done over the course of several classes.

Icebreaker Combination:

This combination is excellent for groups that do not know each other very well or have never tried out drama techniques before.

  1. Get out of your head: Start with an exercise that gets people away from the walls and out of their heads. Everyone walks around the room, walking on different parts of their feet in different scenarios, etc. Walking and Freezing
  2. Acknowledge each other: Get people to acknowledge the other people in the room by doing Matching Body Parts
  3. Names matter: Time to get to know each other. Name + Movement helps the students learn each others names and Fruits Basket - Get to know you is a game where the students must switch seats whenever a fact applies to them.
  4. Yes-and for beginners: Try some easy improvisation, focusing on yes-and and listening to their classmates. What Are You Doing?. Have them regularly change partners/small groups to interact with as many people as possible.

Focus Combination:

This combination is an excellent class management tool. The exercises focus on focus, and you can choose livelier or quieter exercises depending on what suits the class.

  1. Start small: Start getting everyone into the same headspace by Counting to Ten. This relaxed but focused exercise will get the students to start listen to each other without having anyone do too much talking.
  2. Wake up both body and mind: Exercises like Zip-Zap-Boing or Samurai Swords require the students to form a circle and send energy (and noises) around the room. The students have to make sure everyone is paying attention or the game won't work. Note:These exercises tend to be on the louder side of the spectrum. If you want a quieter exercise that wakes up the imagination, try out Throw the Ball.
  3. Work together: Short improvisation games like Trifecta only take about 10 minutes and get the students invested in filling out a scenario and working off each other's ideas.

Reflective Combination:

This combination of shorter exercises is excellent for exploring a scene from a novel or historical event. Do a warm-up or two before this to get students in the zone.

  1. Set the scene: Still Images is an exercise where the students use their bodies to work together and create still images from some prompt, whether a scene from a story or suggestions drawn from a hat.
  2. Delve deeper: Spotlight can be used in tandem with still images. Take one of the characters out of the still image and question them. Get the other students in the class to ask them questions so everyone gets involved in the creative process. This type of reflection happens in class and can be discussed again at the end of class.
  3. Explore different viewpoints: Tunnel of Conscience is an exercise where the class arranges itself in two lines to form a tunnel. There, they shout out different choices or opinions to the character who walks through the tunnel. After the character has walked through the tunnel, they must decide which choice they feel their character would make.
  4. Talk it through: Take some time to think about what the characters think about what is going on in the scene. Have the students write a Writing in Role from their character's perspective. You can either have them turn the diaries in privately or get them to read their character's entry out loud to their group or the entire class.

Script Writing Combination:

This combination could take a whole class or several classes. You can work up to a ten-line script or try and combine the scripts into one play. Always do a warm-up before doing shorter or longer exercises, as they help the students get in the zone.

  1. Brainstorm some ideas: Use Trifecta to develop some scenarios to work on later. This exercise makes the participants listen to and work from each other's ideas, leading to collaborative scenes.
  2. Write a short scene: Use the scenes in the previous exercise to delve into script writing. Make small groups write Ten Line Scene. Being limited to only ten lines of dialogue, an action, and a prop gets the narrative moving quickly.
  3. Switch it up: Have the groups switch scripts before performing for each other. They only get a short time to prepare for their performance and do not need to know any of the lines by heart. After seeing all the performances, have the groups play the original scripts they wrote and discuss how the groups performed the same lines differently.
  4. Extract all the good parts: If you want to continue using the material the students wrote, you can have them extract their favorite parts from each play and combine them into one slightly longer scene. This scene can be only ten lines long, but you can also ask them to add three to five original sentences to the script per group and discuss how the sentences the groups added changed the scenes after watching all the performances.

Chapter 5 – Summary

Introducing drama techniques into the classroom does not have to be complicated. Start small and work your way up to more elaborate exercises. Even just using Mood Board or Wrong Answers Only during role call can help your students acclimatize to creative exercises. The most important thing is to be honest and work together with your students while you all try and learn how to do the exercises. There are no mistakes, only funny happenstances that can be worked on and improved. Keep a yes-and attitude and most problems sort themselves out eventually. You can always go back to step one and take a minute to breathe and re-center yourselves. Just try and remember that the good thing about drama exercises is that there are no wrong answers only variations on right ones.