Clare Lavery      
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Ideas for improvisations

    Make sure students are comfortable with what they have to do

    Make sure the context/situation is clear

    Set a clear time framework for the improvisation

  1. Playing characters in a story

    Students stand up, walk around and meet other characters. Give each student a card with a character on it (historical, famous but still alive).

    Keep to a theme if appropriate, e.g. all the characters are at a dinner party together or all the characters are from the same story (from a TV programme like Friends, from a novel or film students like such as Harry Potter, Toy Story or a teen film).

  2. Forming a tableau or group scene

    This can be guided by the teacher in three ways.

    a. Slowly describe a scene and gradually choose students to become part of it.

    Give them a role or character to play and encourage them to start conversations with other people in the scene, e.g. at a market/ on a station platform. Get suggestions of dialogue themes and language from the whole class. The whole class will build the scene with you.

    b. Less guided

    Call out the context, e.g. an airport. Each student assumes a role in their pair or group. They decide which part of the airport to be in and act out scenes on the spur of the moment. It forms a sort of tableau.

    c. Street conversations:

    Show students a picture or painting of a busy street scene or indoor scene with lots happening and plenty of exchanges between characters in the picture. Students in pairs or groups imagine the conversation of someone in the scene and act it out. The rest of the class can try to guess which part of the picture the conversations refer to.

    Other ideas for scenes include:

    A school playground/hall/common room/disco
    People on a beach
    At a birthday party
    In a doctorís / dentistís / vetís waiting room
    Backstage at a fashion show or pop concert

  3. Group improvisations on a theme

    a. Journey to the assistantís home town

    The whole class will be travelling from their town to your town in the UK. Name the different places en route and give different parts of the classroom these names: At the airport, at the station ticket office, in the station cafť, at the bank. Students move in pairs around the stages of their journey and improvise conversations that might take place there.

    b. Auction/Jumble sale

    Take objects to the lesson. Each pair is given one object and they have to sell it to their group or class. This might involve explaining how it works or explaining its value/usefulness.

  4. Interesting situations involving two people:

    A gatecrasher and a party hostess who dislikes the gatecrasher.
    A vegetarian friend served meat by your parents at the dinner table.
    A person jumping the queue in a crowded shop and the shopkeeper.
    Two friends meet up after ten years.
    A stranger rings your doorbell and will not go away (trying to sell something?).
    A stranger greets you like a long lost friend but you havenít a clue who they are.
    A tired neighbour and a student who is having an all night party upstairs.
    A famous actor/actress and the journalist who wrote a horrible article last week about them. They meet at an awards party.
    A neighbour knocks on your door at midnight asking to borrow something.

  5. Conversations overheard

    a. Take a two line dialogue, preferably a brief exchange. Students use this to improvise a whole conversation.

    A: Itís quite old, isnít it?
    B: Donít be ridiculous.

    b. Ask students to invent a conversation overheard on their way to school

  6. Trying to make friends- the first move

    Starting conversations can feel like a challenge. Students improvise their first conversations with native speakers.

    On a London bus.
    At a party.
    In a club/pub.
    In a new language school.
    In their host family in the UK (at the dinner table or over the first cup of tea).
    On the plane journey over to the UK.
    On their first date with an English speaking boy/girl.

Manual Links

Fluency verses accuracy p28
The speaking skill p36
Tips for fluency practice p41-42
Role play pp44-45
Experimenting with tone and intonation p60
Using one large picture p74
Using video p89-90
Role play from cartoon dialogues and video clips p91
Role play from a poem p121


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