Improvisational ESL

Recently, I was reminded of the power of theater in education.  Thinking about students who are new to English… but not completely new… I have been looking at improvisational theater exercises to get students talking.  This is not a strategy to teach new vocabulary but to build fluency, spontaneity and confidence while speaking.

Imagine having two students create a skit where someone is lost and the other has to help the first person find his or her way.  Imagine adding a third person who says that the first person is wrong.  What would you say?  What would you do?  Can they ask for an additional person to assist?

Make it a little bit harder and open ended: Imagine students creating a skit based off of three nouns- pencil, stove, rake.  Throw in a verb and shake things up a bit.

There are a million scenes that you can have students improvise based on anything that students need to practice.  Try it; see what happens!

Thumb Challenge!

At La Cosecha I learned a new vocabulary-practice strategy: Thumb Challenge!

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Create a game board for each pair of students.  The example in the picture used two crowns from Burger King (sorry about the glare).  Along each side have the same set of vocabulary words and the word start. You could attach the words with tape, velcro, sticky notes. Then:

  • Have each pair of students sit knee-to-knee;
  • Place their thumbs at the starting line;
  • Partner A moves his/ her thumb to the first word and challenges partner B to define the word and use it in a sentence;
  • If partner B is correct, partner A asks about the next word; if not partner B asks partner A about the first word;
  • If neither partner can define/ use the word they need to get assistance.

Options: Use a third person to serve as the judge, deciding if the definition and usage are correct. Let students use notebooks and environmental print to aid them