Using Improvisation in the Classroom

I recommend taking an improv class for so many reasons, one of which is that some of the exercises can become great springboards for ideas to get students to speak in a group language class. Knowing how to read and write in a language is quite different from speaking it. This is especially true with some Japanese women I have taught. Although their spouses may have opportunities to use English in the workplace, many Japanese women I’ve met tend to befriend other Japanese whose husbands have been assigned to work in the United States. Making American or other English-speaking friends can be tough.

From what I have learned, the Japanese can read and write with a fair amount of clarity; however, forming spoken sentences doesn’t happen without a lot of thought first. Sometimes a series of imperfect sentences can communicate much more than a few perfectly constructed sentences. My goal is to create an environment in which students feel free to try to speak in front of their classmates and me with the understanding that they will be corrected afterwards so that they can ultimately improve and communicate more fluently. This has to be done carefully so the students are not discouraged from speaking at all.

One recent activity that I did with a group of four women was to role play buying a used car. First, I introduced some vocabulary. Next, we listened to a dialogue while reading the script silently, and then the students were paired off. Each person took turns with the role of salesperson and car buyer while reading the script aloud. Afterwards, I modeled how to act out the skit without the script and emphasized that the skit did not have to exactly match the original dialogue. (I chose the most advanced student who was the least shy to help model how to do this.) After we completed the demonstration, I asked the women to work their partner and take turns playing each role without a script. After some practice, it was showtime.

The grand finale was when I had the students speed up the performances from about five minutes to a time limit of three minutes. The result was that the students spoke more naturally, sounded more fluent, and were talking to an actual person while speaking. It wasn’t just reading from a script anymore. It was about interacting.

Improvisation is a part of daily life. We may have patterns that we use in different situations, but ultimately, we think of what we’re going to say depending on whom we are speaking with and what the situation is. Rehearsing is a good idea when stakes are high, but reading from cue cards is not nearly as effective as communicating with the person in front of you.

Beginner-Level Spanish Class - November 1 thru December 13, 2018

Visit our Eventbrite page to purchase tickets for this six week class that will begin November 1, 2018 for 1.5 hours on Thursday evenings from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM.

Register now by clicking on the link to our Eventbrite page.

English Teacher Needed in Merrillville, Indiana

Job Description

Job Description

Midwest Language Services is now interviewing English as Second Language (ESL) tutors to business people and their families in Merrillville, Indiana for part-time work (from 1 hour to 16 hours per week) to prepare lessons and teach English as a Second or New language to beginners and intermediate-level students (Level A and B on the CEFRL scale).
Day and evening hours available. Please let us know your availability.

  • Arrive at lessons on time or even a little early (5-10 minutes) as punctuality is highly valued is certain cultures. Arriving even a couple of minutes late might be taken negatively.

  • Create lesson plans

  • Continually assess student needs.

  • Create lesson plans to help students improve their language skills.

  • Allow the student to speak at least 50 percent of the lesson time.

  • Assign and check homework, as needed.

  • Keep track of student attendance.

  • Be patient, encouraging, and help students speak and understand English more fluently.

Desired Qualities

  • At least two years of ESL teaching experience to adult learners

  • At least a Bachelor's Degree in English, Education or related field

  • Knowledge of a second language (to be able to understand the struggles of learning a second language)

  • Professional in appearance, attitude, preparedness, etc.

  • Business dress code (conservative attire - no jeans, no sandals or open-toed shoes, etc.)

  • Able to create engaging lesson plans for expats who need English to communicate with business colleagues and with people in the community for everyday purposes

  • Able to drive to the client or to one of our convenient locations

  • Extremely punctual


  • Flexible schedule - set your hours, but then keep those hours regularly

  • Motivated learners

  • Compensation $20 - $25 per hour, depending on experience and other qualifications

Job Type: Part-time

Salary: $20.00 to $25.00 /hour

Interviewing Basics

It’s exciting to interview for a job you are interested in doing; however, simple things send subtle signals that you may or may not be so excited about the job. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward and improve your chances of getting hired. Little things mean a lot.

  1. Show up on time. The idea of what “on time” means varies from culture to culture. if you’re interviewing to be an interpreter, teacher, or anyone else who needs to be punctual because others will be waiting for you, then showing up on time might actually mean showing up at least fifteen minutes early in the parking lot of the place you’re going to so you have enough time to gather your thoughts, look in the mirror, and then walk in the door. Showing up late tends to signal that you don’t care about the job or that you are presumptuous about getting hired. Life happens. If you must be late, call as soon as possible.

  2. Smile. You are preparing to interview somewhere you would like to work. You may be nervous, but people like to be around people who have a pleasant demeanor. This is especially true if you are interviewing for a job that requires you to be around other people. No one wants to hire a sourpuss.

  3. Avoid complaining. I once interviewed an interpreter I will never call on simply because she tossed her purse on the interview table, complained about the landscaping in front of the building, and then complained about how difficult it was to come to my office. People tend to hire people who are going to represent their company well and not cause embarrassment or a negative work environment. (See number 2.)

  4. Avoid wearing heavy cologne, after shave, or other perfumed products. Less is more. Some people are allergic to heavy scents and also prone to migraines. Deodorant is fine (and encouraged), but anything else may be too much.

  5. Dress the part. Think of what you would expect someone to wear if they were doing the job you are applying for. Dress shoes, slacks, a button-up shirt, dress, conservative top, and skirts are fitting for most interviews. Assume a more formal atmosphere and discuss the dress code after you get the interview. Conversely, if you get a second interview, don’t assume that you can wear casual clothing. It is better to be overdressed than under-dressed.

  6. Read about the company before the interview. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about what you may be doing and how you might contribute in other ways to the company.

  7. Ask not what the company can do for you, but ask what you can do for the company. In other words, don’t start discussing salary and benefits until you have shared how you would be an asset to the company.

The above tips also hold true even after you’ve been hired. Ask yourself how you can add value to the company. This may open doors to you even after you’ve been hired and can lead to greater responsibility and pay within the company.

Register for American Sign Language Classes

Register for American Sign Language Classes

Register to learn some basic American Sign Language. Learn finger spelling, greetings, simple conversations, and also about deaf culture in this six-week course that will meet on Mondays and Thursdays from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.