TESOL Teaching Ideas -Using Theater Games

At times it can be challenging to come up with fun, interesting, motivating and communicative activities for students to practice language. I have found that using theater games (activities typically used in acting classes to warm up the students) is a great way to get students thinking on their feet in a creative way. The following activities can be adapted to higher or lower level students; just consider the amount of language support the students would need to do the activity.


1. Activity: Ad-Lib Flashers

Hand each student two pieces of paper and tell them to write a word on each piece of paper.  It can be any word they like. Then, ask for two volunteers to come up to the front of the room.  Have the volunteers give their pieces of paper to someone else in the room. Set the scene: You need to borrow $1,000.00 from your friend – it’s urgent.  Ask him/her for it.  As students have their conversation, tell the other students (the audience) to flash their words randomly.  Students have to incorporate these words into their conversation as quickly as they can.

2. 4 Quadrants

Divide classroom or playing space into 4 quadrants (sections) and assign a different emotion to each quadrant. Players improvise a scene, but need to take on the emotion of the quadrant they are in. Encourage players to move about, in order to force changes of emotions. Don`t forget to have students justify emotion changes. You change this game up by assigning movie genres, physical actions, personality quirks or even types of weather to each quadrant instead of emotions.

3.Crisis Situation

This game requires a box of objects, photos of objects or names of objects written on strips of paper and a bunch of strips of paper. Give each student a blank strip of paper. Have students write a crisis situation on each strip (your car has broken down on the highway, your romantic partner has left you, you have lost your wallet…) and put them all in a bag. Have two students choose a crisis situation strip each and grab an object from the box. The students explain their problems to each other. After that, each student has to solve the other student’s crisis with their object.  Replies must be instantaneous. Two new students grab an object and a crisis each. Repeat the game until all strips have been used. To read more, click here.

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