Festival of english speaking theatre

Interactive workshop for teachers

Ken Wilson´s drama teaching workshop


I’m an ELT author and trainer. I’ve given training presentations to teachers in about forty countries and written more than thirty books, including a dozen series of course books. My most recent course material is the third edition of an American English course called Smart Choice, for Oxford University Press, and a series for teenagers called Achievers, for Richmond Publishing. I also write supplementary material which includes sketches, songs and drama resources, including Drama and Improvisation, which is part of the OUP Resource Books for Teachers series.

My first ELT publication was an album of songs called Mister Monday, released when I was 23, which at the time made me the youngest published ELT author ever. Since then, I’ve written and recorded more than two hundred songs for English learners.

Until 2002, I was artistic director of the English Teaching Theatre, a company which performed stage-shows for learners of English all over the world. The ETT made more than 250 tours to 55 countries on five continents.

I’ve also written about a hundred ELT radio and television programmes, mainly for the BBC, including fifty radio scripts for the Follow Me series, thirty Look Ahead TV scripts and a series of plays called Drama First.

I’m currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London. My ELT work includes being editor-in-chief of a primary course for Vietnam, a co-production between Macmillan Hong Kong and Vietnam Educational Publishing House, Hanoi.
I live in London with my wife Dede and two cats and I work in a shed at the end of my garden.

Ken Wilson


Books written specifically for ELT

Susan Hillyard. English Through Drama (Helbling, 2014)
Mark Almond. Teaching English with Drama (English Teaching Professional, 2012)
Ken Wilson. Drama and Improvisation (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Sarah Philips. Drama with Children (Oxford University Press, 2007)
Doug Case and Ken Wilson. English Sketches 1 and 2. (Macmillan, 1995)
Penny Ur and Andrew Wright. Five-Minute activities. (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Jill Hadfield. Classroom Dynamics. (Oxford University Press, 1992)
Friederike Klippel. Keep Talking. (Cambridge University Press, 1984)
Alan Maley and Alan Duff. Drama Techniques in Language Learning. (Cambridge University Press, 1982)

Books on Drama and drama teaching

Martin Lewis and John Rainer. Teaching Classroom Drama and Theatre. (Routledge 2012)
Mike Fleming. Starting Drama Teaching (Routledge 2011)
Jessica Swale. Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops. (Nick Hern Books, 2009)
John Abbott. The Improvisation Book – how to conduct successful improvisation sessions. (Nick Hern Books, 2008)
Clive Barker. Theatre Games. (Methuen, 1977)
Terence Deary. Teaching Through Theatre. (Samuel French, 1977)
Michael Fleming. The Art of Drama Teaching. (David Fulton, 1997)
Heathcote, Dorothy Heathcote and Gavin Bolton. Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert Approach to Education. (Heinemann, 1995)
Ginny Graham. First Stage: A Drama Handbook for Schools and Youth Theatres. (Northcote House, 1993)
Milton Polsky. Let’s Improvise – Becoming Creative, Expressive and Spontaneous Through Drama. (University Press of America, 1989)
Keith Johnstone. Impro – Improvisation and the Theatre. (Methuen 1981)



12:00pm – 1:45pm Welcome & Registration

2:00pm – 3:30pm Session 1

3:45pm – 5:15pm Session 2

19:00 – 20:15 Theatre performance: THEATRE ON THE ROOF – Vernissage (tickets are included in the price of the workshop)


8:00am – 10:00am Morning Coffee

10:00am – 11:30am Session 1

11:30am – 12:00pm Lunch

12:00pm – 1:30pm Session 2

In Sessions 1 and 2 on Thursday and Session 1 on Friday, we will try out about thirty classroom activities, designed to animate and activate language that the students have already learnt. Some of them could be described as drama activities, but the key is that they are manageable, memorable, success-oriented and mostly fun. They are also short, easy to organise and usually require very little or no preparation time, and certainly no props, costumes or technology.

The aim is to get students not just talking but also wanting to talk. They will also be encouraged to listen to each other, in pairs or groups, in order to achieve set goals and targets. Again, the activities will make them want to listen to each other.

They are all things that you can try out with your students the moment you get back in the classroom – but not all at once! The key message is this: these activities are designed to accompany your normal teaching style, whether you use a coursebook, no book, if you are required to follow government guidelines on the content you teach, whatever.

There are things you have to do as a teacher, and these workshops will offer activities that are designed to fill the gaps, to re-energise the students, after which they will return to book-related activities or teacher presentation time in a more enthusiastic mood.

In Session 2 on Friday, we will reflect on the value of the activities. Ken will be happy to answer any methodological or technical questions about the activities. In particular, he will welcome questions about the following subjects:

  • What is the rationale and justification for these activities?
  • What are the benefits of using them and what are the problems?
  • How can I get students engaged?
  • How can I make group work better?
  • How can I improve my presentation style?

In addition to getting tips and a list of good activities, I would like to encourage teachers to think about their rationale for using them. Viz.: Why have I chosen this activity? What is my aim? What will the students get out of it? Have I managed to get them learn in the activity?