Role plays are one of our favourite EFL activities. They allow students to practise communication, they’re fun and quick to set up. In this article we have a few tips on how you can get the most out of role plays. Don’t forget to also check out how to design a good role-play activity.
Odd number of students
Role plays work great for pair work. But what if you have an odd number of students?
Make one group of 3. In this case, there will be one student playing the role of Student B and two students playing the role of Student A. You might be tempted to take the role yourself and role play with another student. But that’s not the best idea (unless it’s an individual class) because then you can’t monitor the other students.
Pre role-playing activities
Give the students some time to prepare before role-playing. Distribute the roles and give them a few minutes to make sure they understand everything.
You can also run a brainstorming activity: divide the students into two groups. Give one group the role of Student A and the other group the role of Student B. Give them some time to brainstorm ideas for their roles together. Next, match a student from each group to make pairs: Student A with Student B. Now, these pairs role play the scenario.
You could introduce a pre-role-play discussion stage to help your students prepare for the role play. Prepare a few questions for discussion on the topic, or present the situation and get some feedback from the students about what they would do in this situation.
Monitor your students’ work. Check for errors and correct them only when absolutely necessary. When correcting errors, try and don’t break the flow of the conversation. If your students are in the middle of role-playing and you notice errors, don’t correct them there and then. Note them down and discuss them later. This approach works great for EFL fluency practice and it will boost your students’ confidence while role-playing. If you start correcting every error, they will quickly lose their motivation to continue.
If you have enough time, introduce a follow-up stage. After the students finish role-playing, let every pair talk about what happened in their role play. You can elicit some useful vocabulary that came up.
Let each student play the role of Student A and the role of Student B. You can also mix up the pairs. Have the students play a scenario, and then change pairs. This way, they’ll have the opportunity to communicate with different students. Do this especially if your students are used to talking to the same student in the group.
For weaker groups, or if you’re introducing a new scenario, always start with revising some useful language.
For students who are not very talkative and have problems coming up with ideas, try a scaffolding technique. It’s a great way to build up students’ communication skills step by step. Read more about scaffolding techniques in this article.
And if you’re looking for some ready-to-use role plays, check out our Role Plays 3 Ways EFL resource pack.