Mad Lib Theater

One of my main sources of research to keep abreast of new Internet tools and resources for the ESL classroom is Larry Ferlazzo’s great blog, which I highly recommend checking out. About a month ago, Larry suggested using Mad Libs in this blog entry to lead to a performance as opposed to just using it for the students to have fun around filling in blanks with word categories, which, in his view, and I totally subscribe, wasn’t that interesting from a language practice standpoint. He got this idea from a hilarious Mad Lib (Theater) version in Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show with Benedict Cumberbatch.

So I decided to use this video “Mad Lib Theater style” with my students in the English classroom and it was a real winner. This is how the lesson unfolds.

1.Give your students the first handout. Play the video until 03:24. As they watch the video, they write down the words provided by Benedict on the left (you may give them the most difficult ones if you are teaching lower levels). Elicit answers.

2. Get the students into groups. Ask them to, in their groups, fill in the gaps for the word categories on the right of handout 1 (click below to download). Every group must agree on the same word or words for each of the gaps.


3. Now play the video from 03:24 until the end. Give them handout 2 (click below to download) to fill it in with the words that they wrote on the first one.


4. Each group designates two students to read out their crazy police interrogation dialogue.

Have fun. Draw attention to aspects of connected speech and intonation.