At the Europe/Eurasia English Language Fellow Midyear Conference in Hungary, all of the Fellows conducted workshops at different locations throughout the country. In Debrecen, Kevin Hirschi (English Language Fellow in Georgia), Mary Catherine Boehmer (English Language Fellow in Azerbaijan) and Joey Fordyce (English Language Fellow in Ukraine) presented together on pronunciation, American culture, and—to their audience’s surprise—improv exercises as teaching tools.
Participating teachers found the improvisation approach innovative, engaging, and entertaining. Best of all, though, putting students through improv exercises, where preparation and rehearsal get taken out of the equation, lets students really start using authentic language. It was a method some of the teachers in attendance had never tried before. Anita, a secondary-school teacher, said, “I have never used improvisation in my classes before, because I thought it was difficult for my students to come up with ideas of their own. It was good to see that it is possible to do it in a way that doesn’t require a high level of vocabulary, and that we can do it even with beginner level students.” Dora, who teaches English in a private school, really saw the practicality. “It was great to see that you can turn simple activities like greeting each other or giving gifts to each other into such fun,” she said. “I will definitely try both during my classes next week.”
This activity was also beneficial to the English Language Fellows, though, as they work across and two continents and don’t normally have the opportunity to share or collaborate this way. Watching their peers present on what they know best was a wonderful experience for the Fellows. Branching out to offer workshops in localities all around Hungary also meant the Fellows met dozens of great local teachers they otherwise would not have known.