We here at the TDSIG are slowly recovering from a wild and wonderful week in Harrogate at the annual IATEFL conference. So many great sessions, so much food for thought and our own development. For those of you unlucky enough to miss Mojce Belak’s excellent workshop on improvisation this year, the activities are below. As always, we’d love to hear any feedback from you. Do you use improvisation in your classroom? Any activities to add?
What are they saying?
Students are shown a short video clip with the sound turned off and create dialogues in pairs that would suit the situation. They act it out. In the end the clip is shown with the sound on. BBC’s Walk on the wild side.
The question game
In pairs. The group decides the setting (restaurant, barn, bus, anywhere). The dialogue has to be in questions only:
A: “When are you going to milk the cows?”
B: “What cows?”
A: “Can’t you see them?”
B: “Are you telling me I’m blind?”
A: “When was the last time you had your eyesight checked?”
Questions such as “Oh, really?” and “Yeah?” don’t count.
When the pair gets too much entangled in the dialogue, they stop and are replaced by another pair.
Late for work
Choose the boss and the employee plus two or three helpers. The employee leaves the room, the group thinks of a series of events that lead to his or her getting to work late (your roof collapsed, a big bird stole your wooden leg and flew off, when you got to your car park there was a giraffe parked where you left your car the previous evening, etc.). The employee returns but has no idea what the group agreed upon. He or she tries to explain the boss what had happened. While the employee is talking, the two / three helpers act out the events from the morning. The employee tries to guess what had happened and to convey all that to the boss. If he or she gets it wrong, the boss gets a bit grumpy and says sth like “I don’t believe this.” Or, more likely, “I don’t buy this.” “You’re making this up.” This way the employee is guided towards the correct interpretation.
Put two chairs (“a bench”) in the middle of the classroom. A, who is already sitting on one, is joined by B. They exchange a few one-liners, then A leaves, and C comes along and sits in A’s place. Etc, etc, until student A finally gets to the bench. Once A was an old lady, and B pretended she had some compulsive obsession and smelled everything around her, then said ‘hello’.
Students work in groups of four. Three sit in a line close together and lock hands. They are ‘the oracle’ and give advice to the fourth student who has come to the oracle with some problem and sits down opposite them. Each of the three students representing the oracle is only allowed to say one word at a time. Once the student sitting opposite the oracle has explained their problem, the fun begins…
The question game, Late for work, and Park bench are based on activities done by Stockholm University English Improvisational Theatre Group. The author of The Oracle in Peter Dyer from Pilgrims.