A script is a template for conversation applicable to a particular type of situation, setting, or prompt. Perhaps the most common script is simply saying hello to an acquaintance:
“Hi! How are you doing?”
“Great! How about you?”
“I’m fine, thanks for asking.”
In this case, as with many scripts, most participants in this conversation may choose a different wording, but the general meaning of each line is usually similar, and the purpose of the exchange remains the same.
We use scripts when we order food at restaurants or drive-throughs, when we meet someone for the first time, when we call a customer service number, when we start talking about the latest game or film, and when we bid loved ones farewell.
Scripts develop naturally in culture, but it turns out that many cultures share scripts in common — at least in terms of their essential meaning and their purpose — despite using different sequences of sounds or letters to express them. Even if you’ve only begun to learn a language, you can recognize when someone is saying goodbye or ordering a pizza (even if you don’t know which toppings they want).
Many English textbooks will have scripts featured in them, sometimes as roleplaying activities. While students need to learn the exact words, they probably have the advantage of already understanding the context. If they remember the key words and grammar structure, learners can quickly apply those scripts to real-life situations, and it shouldn’t take long before they customize the scripts to match their own preferences or express their own style.
Because students often have similar scripts in their own culture and language, English scripts can seem less foreign to them than sentences not set within such familiar contexts. Scripts often act as a touchstone for students, making it easier for even beginner students to understand their meaning.
Beyond that, scripts are incredibly practical since learners can use them outside the classroom just like native speakers do!
So while scripts might not seem like the most exciting thing to learn, and some don’t allow for much creativity at first, scripts allow students to form connections between English and their native tongue, and they can boost a learner’s confidence for understanding and speaking English in the real world!