Skip navigation

Category Archives: role-play

>By Ruth McAllister

I was “forced” to use Family Album USA with students at a private language school in Changsha. It was a group of about 50 students ranging in age from 10 to 50, with most of them in the 20-30 age group. They loved the book. So much for taste!?!

What I did with it was tell them about what the topic was and write the key new vocab on the board. They scribbled these down with glee. Oooh, new words to learn!!! (sighhh!) Then I showed them the video. After that I would read it out loud, and the whole crowd would recite it after me. I’d walk around and listen to their pronunciation. Then I’d put them in groups of however many characters in the skit for the day and they’d read it to each other.

We’d then go over said key vocabulary.

For the rest of the 2 hour (with 10 minute break in the middle) lesson, I’d take the topic of the skit of the day and expand upon it. I got them to speak to the whole group as well as in their own groups. I tried to find discussion questions to get them talking in their groups and keep moving about to facilitate. For example, in the wedding, I talked about my own wedding, how there are different weddings for different religious groups, got them contributing about their own weddings and then they talked in their groups about marriage in general. We also had a quick wedding improv skit which was actually quite hilarious.


>By Eve Ross – Beijing Institute of Machinery

I asked students to discuss with a partner what percent of their learning is the teacher’s responsibility, and why. The answers ranged from 10% to 100%, but most were between 30% to 50%. The insights used to defend the various answers were really great, too. Since everyone admitted that the teacher had at least some responsibility, this was a good segue into creating a teacher’s contract.

The list members might be interested in my students’ suggestions of clauses to go in my contract, since they create a students’-view picture of the ideal English teacher. I should mention that I taught these same students last semester, so they are already familiar with my teaching style. The numbers reflect how many of the 32 students included the item in their list of suggestions.

26 – Provide more opportunities to speak English
14 – Teach more Western culture
14 – Point out mistakes and correct them immediately
12 – Show more films
8 – Work more on pronunciation
8 – Give more opportunities to talk about daily life
8 – Provide more chances to meet other native speakers
6 – Give advice on how to study English

Suggestions given by fewer than 5 people:

Give advice on reading
Take students out of the classroom
Answer e-mail quickly
Do more role plays
Ask for student suggestions
Give practical knowledge
Give advice on passing the Band 4 Exam
Be friends
More homework
More tests
More oral presentations
More games
More focus on the text
More different topics
More vocabulary
More grammar

All of these seem like pretty good ideas to me, but only the first three are actually going into my contract: I will provide as many opportunities to speak English as possible. I will teach some aspect of Western culture in every class. I will point out and correct students’ mistakes immediately.

>By Barry Bakin, Pacoima Skills Center, Division of Adult and Career Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, USA

I’ve become a real enthusiast for role-plays derived from reading passages. In one text that I’m using (Townsend Press’ “Everyday Heroes”) one of the stories relates how a young Mexican boy really wanted to start going to school but his grandmother wouldn’t give him permission because she needs him to take care of the farm.

He sneaks off and starts school (at the age of 9) but his grandmother comes looking for him. She finds him at the school after one week and he sees her approaching. He’s afraid she’ll force him to come home with her, but after a long meeting with the principal of the school, she comes out and says that he can stay, as long as he does all of the chores before coming to class (a two hour walk). The story doesn’t say anything else about the discussion between the principal and the grandmother.

The role-play I assigned the class was to recreate the conversation. What did the principal say to the grandmother that caused her to change her mind? What were the grandmother’s arguments about why the boy had to come home? I was very pleased with the outcome of the exercises. The arguments for education were so heartfelt, but the understanding of the grandmother’s need for him to work on the farm was deep.

The students also did a good job presenting both sides of the argument and then using the right language to talk about reaching a compromise. The students really did great jobs and the best conversations/performances were applauded with real feeling.

If you haven’t tried using a reading passage from a newspaper, book, or website as a starting point for a role-play, I’d urge you to try it with your students.