main navigation
my pace
English Language Institute Blog

How to Use Playwriting in NYC to Improve Your English

One of the most famous aspects of New York City culture is the theatre scene, including plays on and off Broadway. Short plays can help you see and hear new words, and see local stories in a different way than television and movies can provide. But did you know that writing a short play can help with your English skills too? You can practice the language you know while learning to focus your ideas and tell a brief story in a way that people can understand.

#1 Reading a ten minute play

read play script to improve english

Before you can write a play, you should know how to read one. Theatre History has lots of scripts for you to read. The format will be clear to you very quickly: You seethe name of the character followed by the words that they speak. Then the next character’s name is written and their words, just like the dialogs you do in your language classes.

When you read a play, imagine what it looks like on the stage. Sometimes the author of the play will write every little item and movement that he or she wants to appear, but some authors provide very little instruction. They prefer for the director to decide what the play looks like.

When you live in New York City, you could go see a play almost every night. If you want to see a Broadway play, the Seaport TKTS Booth is a five minute walk from the ELI at Pace office. You can buy tickets for 50% on the day of the performance. If you are interested in plays that are still in process, the Workshop Theatre has low priced shows, and you can always check out Time Out New York for things to do and other plays to see.


#2 Writing a ten minute play

writing a play to help improve English

I didn’t really appreciate plays, especially short plays, until I started writing them. Writing ten minute plays can be very difficult but rewarding because once you start, you will find you’ve finished very quickly. Tell a story that somebody will find interesting. Think about the mundane and routine days that people have in their lives and interrupt them with something out of the ordinary.

E.M. Welsh has a great primer on how to write a ten minute play. And if you are a student at ELI at Pace, you will find teachers and staff members who are interested in everything from psychology and politics to acting and law. Pace students also have access to the Writing Center, so you’ll have no problem finding someone interested in reading your ten minute play and giving you feedback. With the diverse study population at Pace, you’ll have a chance to see how your ideas sound in different cultural contexts too.


#3 Performing Arts at Pace

stage performer

Besides everything above, you can also get discounted and free tickets to the performances by Pace University’s performing arts school. You will find some of the most talented actors, singers, dancers, and writers in the city here in this program, and at ELI at Pace, they will be your peers.

If you complete our TOEFL waiver requirements and are talented in these fields, you could join them too. Your first step should be coming to ELI at Pace. We’ll be waiting for your script.


Are you feeling inspired? New York is the center of theater in the world and a great place to learn English: visit the ELI website, contact the ELI or apply here.


Word List:

  • format (n.): the form, design, or arrangement of something (such as a play- What does the paper look like? Where do you write the text?)
  • director (n.): a person who directs a play, movie, etc.
  • appreciate (v.): to understand the worth or importance of (something or someone) : to admire and value (something or someone)
  • rewarding (adj.): giving you a good feeling that you have done something valuable, important, etc.
  • mundane (adj.): dull and ordinary
  • primer (n.): something that provides basic information on a particular subject
  • diverse (adj.): made up of people or things that are different from each other

WRITTEN BY JEFF MCILVENNA