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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Invent a story








人気ブログランキングへにほんブログ村 外国語ブログへ

During my MBA, there was a course that I took called "The Art of Leadership". I remember in one class, we had a special guest lecturer, who had a background in theater, and the topic of the day was "teamwork". In one exercise, the teacher lined up 6-7 students in front of the class and proceeded to explain how to play the game. Essentially, the teacher decides on a random title and points to one student, who would then have to start inventing a story based on the title. Once the story starts, any of the other students can jump in and take over the storytelling at any time. Read more...

Here, the lesson in teamwork is helping each other and self-sacrifice. It's hard enough to invent a story out of the blue, not to mention being in front of the whole class and all attention is on you. Not many students can start a story and make it past a few sentences. So when the narrating student starts to lose momentum with the story, other students need to step up and take over, putting themselves under the heat instead.

Now, I thought I could take this game and apply it to language learning. Think about it, a conversation with other people in a foreign language puts you in the same emotional state as the narrating student in the game. A given topic is at the center of the discussion, which of course can go in any direction at any time, and you are tense because you need all your attention to understand everything, but you must also find the right timing to jump in and take the discussion in the direction that you want.

So I tried it out on my English students, lining up a few of them in front of the class, giving them a scenario, and just letting them play. Seeing them play is pure entertainment. Sometimes they have a great scenario in their head, but they just don't know how to say it in English. But they would make the best out of their limited vocabulary, and add in a few gestures here and there and somehow move the story forward. And they would come up with the craziest stories, from Snow White fighting Godzilla to submarines going into the human bloodstream. Knee-slapping laughter guaranteed!

I think this is a game that is perfectly aligned with CLAP, in that it simultaneously allows you to improve your English and enriches your imagination.

Language teachers out there, try it out in the language that you teach!


  1. 面白い!!

  2. まあ、本当に現場で応用できればね、この考え方。