24 May 2007

Improv "games" in the classroom

Many people are interested in using drama in the English classroom. A terrific source for improvised drama is at Improv Encyclopedia:

They call these "games" but they are spontaneous role-plays. It is truly a LIMO (Little In Much Out) activity. With little input from the teacher much can be gotten out of the students.

Unlike a play, there is no script. All the teacher has to do is to set up the drama situation and then the participants carry on from there. The teacher does not have to make copies of a script for everyone to follow. It allows communicative practice albeit often in a fanciful situation. Some adaptation will be required. The nonverbal games will not be useful.

Here is one of the first games from the first category. I have chosen it rather randomly and I'm sure there are even better:



How it Works

Great high-tempo exercise. 1 player up front. He's the goalie. The other players all think of an opening line for a scene, and a character. When everyone has their opening line and character, we bombard the goalie with these offers, one at a time. Goalie needs to react right away to an offer, acknowledging the opening and character, snap into an opposite character and reply to the opening. Immediately after that the next player comes up with his or her offer.

This exercise is good for teaching players to react right away, and to snap into a character almost without thinking.


Well, I don't think we are going to generate such fast reactions out of our students but it will help them to be quicker. It is great fun and students will use English in an enjoyable way.

This could be done in groupwork or in front of class. The so-called goalie could be a student or even the teacher if done in front of the class. If it is the teacher, it will help the students see various responses. Other students think of situations and fire them at the goalie to which the goalie is to make a ropy. For example:

A: "Father, Father, the house is on fire!"
Goalie: "Quick! Call the fire department!"
B: "Listen, John! I told you to have that report on my desk this morning!"
Goalie: "Sorry, Boss. But I was sick yesterday."
C: "Hey, John, why weren't you at the basketball game last night?"
Goalie: "Titanic was on TV last night and I had to watch it again."
D: "Sweetheart, you forgot our wedding anniversary!"
Goalie: "No I didn't, here's a diamond ring!"

This game may not fit into a particular lesson but can add a bit of English fun to warm up the class.

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Good info. I've appreciated your comments in your blog and on various listservs.

    I thought you might find an article I've written about other games to use in the ESL/EFL classroom: