TEFLSPEAK-G and the Idea of Encouraging Improvised Speech in the EFL Classroom (3)


posted by Jürgen Kurtz, Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany 

The Improvisation ‘Bus Stop’ 

Inspired by the central theme of the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, i.e. life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get, the improvisation ‘Bus Stop’ offers EFL learners a flexible communicative framework which consists of a brief introductory sequence, an incentive to talk spontaneously (improvising a dialogue based on different cues), and, in contrast to traditional role-plays, a so-called communicative emergency exit (ending the conversation without losing face).

 impro1.jpg

This is the basic format or procedural infrastructure of interaction (in this case for beginning learners of English, towards the end of their first year; L = learner):

L1 : Hello.
L2 : Hello, I’m [name].
L1 : Pleased to meet you, [name]. I’m [name].
L2: Are you waiting for the bus?
L1: Yes. How about some sweets?
L2: Thank you.

L2 accepts the offer and draws a piece of paper from the chocolate box. He/she finds one of the following exemplary cues to continue with (idea: “you never know what you’re going to get” / motto: use what you know, learn what you can, make up the rest as you go along):

  • I’m on the way to school, you know. I’m in the 5th grade. …
  • I’m on the way to the supermarket, you know. I’d like to buy…
  • Hey! Look at that boy over there. What is he doing?
  • Listen! Can you hear that? It’s coming from that old bag over there. What’s in it?
  • Excuse me, is this […] yours? …
  • Excuse me, why are you smiling?
  • I’m on the way to the pet shop. This is my cat “Fluffy”. It …
  • I’m on the way to the disco. My hobby is dancing. What’s your hobby?

Communicative emergency exit:
L1/2: Oh, here comes my bus. I have to go. Nice talking to you. Bye.
L1/2: Good bye.

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More to come next week.

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