This is a report of a session conducted at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in April 2006
The (role) play’s the thing: A Straightforward talk about roleplays.
1 What is roleplay?
2 Why use roleplay? Why not?
3 How to set up and run a roleplay
4 Using simple props and realia
5 Instant roleplay
We tried out a couple of roleplays linked to our being at the conference. Definitions arrived at: Roleplay = learners take on a role: themselves in a different situation, or someone else Brainstorm: Roleplays are ………………
Have roles with different/conflicting real life objectives
Language skill not language practice
Call on real-life situations
Usually involve role cards
Usually mean learners are pretending to be someone else
Usually involve some preparation
BUT….. roleplays can be ………..
Written (e.g. by email –teenagers like it on paper; organizing a meeting for business people)
Don’t always need cards
Learners can be themselves in a different situation (realplay/simulation)
Can be instant roleplays
If conflict can be worked into it, the roleplays last longer.
- There are limits to what practice you can do in class
- Makes learners have to think on their feet
- Makes learners work together to make communication ‘work’ and is therefore learner-centred
- Encourages learner responsibility
- It’s fun – good for classroom dynamics
Other tips for roleplays: brainstorm
- 3rd learner as observer
- Give preparation time
- Elicit/revise key words and phrases
- Competition: beginning of year 30 seconds minimum, then 45 seconds, then a minute etc Clear aims: make these explicit
- Develop the role
- Rehearsal (including ‘shadowing’ it in their own language first in a monolingual class – harnessing L1)
- Recycle and repeat
- Provide support
- Give feedback to the task: show learners that the time hasn’t been wasted
- Feedback should be on how they developed it as well as on language (mis)used
- Build in a role for less confident/weaker/quieter learner e.g. a 3rd role
- Do roleplay again – with a different partner. They often say more, and more complex language is used
- Input useful language before the roleplay: language which would also be useful in other situations e.g Í’m sorry but I’m afraid….
- Props: they often like to hold on to something e.g. a newspaper/mobile phones / hats and sunglasses 9another layer of the ‘mask’)/ OHP of the café/room etc plus appropriate music
A macmillan publication Straightforward: A Guide to Roleplays was handed out as a summary of the session.