Words by Nataly Baez

Improv is everywhere and yet, few of us really think about it. But we should. Now we’re not asking you to write a comedy routine or anything—just to incorporate some of the finer points of improv into your day.

Here are three ways you can do that, told by some of EF’s own improv advocates.

Make your partner look good

On stage that might mean giving your partner a set-up, even if they get all the laughs. It’s the same in the classroom. Just give your students the set-up they need to brainstorm, share ideas, and evolve alongside other students.

“Improv in the classroom has positive effects not only on the development of literacy skills but also in creating communities and a democratic classroom.”

– Dr. Katherine McKnight

Public speaker and educator

Be quick on your toes

Improv is all about thinking fast and being open to change—skills we use on a daily basis. And practicing those skills, whether it’s on a stage or in a foreign city, can help you more readily adapt to the curveballs travel (and life!) throws at you.

“I always prepare my students before a trip. I show them our itinerary and then tell them to throw it in the trash. That’s the nature of travel.”

– Scott Barner

Educator and EF Group Leader

Get out of your head

There are no mistakes in improv—that means all ideas and actions are welcome. Taking that approach in your everyday life can help you deliver your ideas—and we mean all of them—with even more confidence.

“I think of improv as therapy. It helped me not overthink things and forced me to shed some of my self-consciousness.” 

– Sarah Bennett

Copywriter, EF

Check out these resources for ideas and tips to learn more:

Written by Katherine McKnight and the head of Second City’s writing program, Mary Scruggs, this book outlines improv exercises for students of any discipline.

Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) is a teaching strategy that incorporates elements of improv to help students develop their reading and language skills.


The EF Journal: A new publication for lifelong learners, by lifelong learners—and your subscription is free.