Great Role Plays
for ESL Students
Role plays for ESL students are a great way of getting your class to
Even the shy ones will be more likely to speak if they have a
role to play and aren't actually giving their own opinions.
some teachers struggle with role plays, and others use them
What is the best way to use role plays for ESL students?
The first piece of advice I have is, don't be scared of using role
plays in class!
Some colleagues told me that they don't use them
because they are worried the students won't want to do it. You're the
teacher! Make them interesting and relevant and the students will want
to do the activity.
Real life situations
Following that, the next piece of advice is, make the role plays
For example, if you are teaching teenagers, give them
situations that they may find themselves in. Suggestions are:
- Ordering a
- Asking directions
- Deciding what to do/where to go
- And so forth.
How to make it interesting
Next, it is important to make the role plays interesting
directions isn't the most exciting activity in the world but try to
think of ways you can make it more interesting.
One teacher I know
suggested that the students had an argument about the directions, and
this apparently worked. Sometimes just using places the students know,
and using real examples helps.
It is important to think about how you group or pair your students when
they do role plays. I often write the different scenarios to be played
in different colors, or on colored paper. The students then have to
find the other person/people with that color.
In most situations I try
and group students of similar ability but there may be times when I
want to pair a stronger with a weaker student. This could be when I
have assigned specific roles and I want the weaker, or shyer, student
to take the dominant role in the situation.
Bring in props to help with the role plays.
For example, some students
find it much easier to talk in a pretend situation if there is
something to help them.
- Set a desk up as a restaurant table
- Bring in
items for them to return to a shop
- Bring in maps for a role play about
- And so forth
There are lots of things you can do to make the
activity more interesting.
Choose the stage
Decide whether you want your students to perform to the rest of the
class or just to practice with each other.
If they perform for the rest
of the class, give them plenty of time to prepare, and encourage
positive feedback from the class as well as peer correction. This will
help involve all the students in every performance. Don't forget to get
feedback from the 'performers' too.
Role plays for ESL students can be a very useful tool in your class,
can build confidence, and improve speaking and listening skills, so
don't neglect them!