Encouraging English Expression through Script-based Improvisations

Thrust your improvisation skills as unpredictable and entertaining

Old Dominion University, Newport News (Va, USA)

Postgraduate Studies in Bilingualism and Bilingual Education

Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, (Colombia)

English Literature Teacher/ Grades Sixth and Seventh

Fundacion Gimnasio Los Portales


Role plays, sketches, dialogues, scenes and plays that approximate real communication provide a dynamic format in which language skills can be introduced and reinforced. Improvisation greatly enhances this approach. This article describes how students can create an original dramatic production starting with a “kernel” situation, scripting the opening lines of each scene and improvising a plot that adds characters until every student is included. While rehearsals reinforce the correct scripted language, the improvisation encourages students to mobilize their vocabulary, respond to grammatical and syntactical accuracy, and develop cultural and social awareness, and gain confidence and fluency.


Recognizing the benefits of scripted dialogues, I decided to incorporate them into my English Literature class curriculum–but with one additional component: improvisation. The selections that will be used for such task are: A Sound Of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, Poison by Roald Dahl, Thank You Ma´M by Langston Hughes, The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, Helen On Eighty Sixth Street by Wendy Kaufman, A Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King by Alice Walker.



A Sound Of Thunder by Ray Bradbury

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Eckles is at the front desk waving a check. All members are ready to go. 
  1. Travis, Eckles and the squad of hunters travel to the past. They arrive at the jungle.
  1. The almighty god of the jungle, the dinosaur, appeared in front of them.
  1. Eckles gets scared and goes back and unintentionally he stepped on the butterfly.
  1. All men get back to the future and perceive that the future has been altered.
  1. Travis realizes that Eckles has crushed the butterfly.


Poison by Roald Dahl

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Harry Pope is in bed, sweating, and immovable.        
  1. Timber Woods comes to the Bungalow.
  1. Harry says that he has a krait on his stomach.
  1. Timber Woods calls Dr.Ganderbai.
  1. Dr. Ganderbai gets the bungalow and asks what is happening.
  1. Dr. Ganderbai helps Harry by administrating some serum and chloroforms the krait.
  1. Harry jumps of the bed and insults Dr. Ganderbai.
  1. Timber Woods reprimands Harry Pope and Dr. Ganderbai leaves the bungalow.






Thank You Ma´M by Langston Hughes

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Mrs. Louella Bates Washington Jones meets Roger in the street. 
  1. She takes Roger to her apartment and fixes a meal for him.
  1. Roger washes his face and thinks of escaping.
  1. Mrs. Jones asks Roger why he tried to snatch her purse and then she tells her story.
  1. Mrs. Jones gives 10 dollars to Roger to buy some suede shoes.
  1. Roger leaves the apartment and in low voice he says thank you m’am.


The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Della is exasperated because she does not have money to buy Jim a present.
  1. Della takes a look in the mirror and thinks to sell her hair.
  1. Della runs to the street and sells her hair.
  1. Della waits for her Jim to come from work.
  1. Jim gets home and asks why she has cut her hair.
  1. Both explained what they have done with their presents and put them away. Jim asks Della to put the chops on the table and have dinner.


The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Mathilde is her apartment thinking and wandering if she could be rich.
  1. M. Loisel comes home with an invitation to the grand ball.
  1. Mathilde is disconsolate because she does not have a dress to wear.
  1. Mathilde is still sad and does not want to go. She does not have a jewel.
  1. Mathilde visits Mme Forestier and borrows a diamond necklace.
  1. Mathilde is the most admired woman in the party.
  1. They leave the party in a hurry and start searching for a cab.
  1. Mathilde realizes that she does not have the diamond necklace.
  1. They work for ten hard years to pay the necklace.
  1. Mathilde meets Mme Forestier in the park.


Helen on Eighty Sixth Street by Wendy Kaufman

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Vita is in the school getting the role for the play.
  1. Vita is at home reading about Troy and Mr Farfield visits Vita´s mom.
  1. Vita goes to the play rehearsal and Helen McGuire asks her if it is crampy to be with Tommy Aldridge in the horse. Tommy is sent home because of the Ninja Turtles sheet.
  1. Vita makes the ritual to get her three witches come true.
  1. Helen McGuire gets chicken pox and cannot be Helen of Troy. Vita gets the role and practices her lines.
  1. Vita, Mr. Todd and the actors perform in the play in front of the audience and she says good bye to her dad.


A Tribute To Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. by Alice Walker

“Kernel” Situations

  1. Alice writes about Dr. Martin Luther King. She relates her ancestors´ life experiences.
  1. Alice watches on TV how the police handcuff Dr.Martin Luther King.
  1. Alice Walker is inspired by M.L.K speech in Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
  1. Black southerners repossessed the land that once was taken by the whites.
  1. Create a sketch in which a case of discrimination is depicted.
  1. Act out Hunter Gault´s discrimination experience in Georgia University.  

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