Roleplaying activities can prepare your students for real-life situations where they can apply their English language skills. Besides, the roleplay activities can liven up the classroom atmosphere and get your students to know each other better. This can also apply to one-on-one lessons for those who teach English online.
In this article, we are going to share some ESL role play ideas that will help your students “survive” in an English-speaking environment. You can use these as both a practical speaking activity and a fun ESL game.
Debate ESL Role Play
Divide the class into two sides and each side has an argument to defend. As you may be teaching a class of culturally diverse students, choose a fun, neutral, and non-controversial topic. For example, if your lesson was devoted to food/cooking, then the topic could be “Which food is better – sweet or salty/spicy?” Encourage the students to use the vocabulary that they have already studied.
Telephone Conversation Role Playing
In real life, your students will have to make phone calls from time to time, and this activity is not the one that everyone will like. However, you can at least use this situation as one of fun roleplaying games to help your students overcome their fear of phone calls. For example, you can ask them to act out a complaint phone call, a hotel booking phone call, or a phone call to a doctor.
Job interview ESL Role Play Activity
A job interview is a significant event in a person’s life, and a job interview in a foreign country could be a real challenge. Therefore, it is important to practice this interview in a safe, trusted environment, such as an ESL classroom.
Arguments Between Neighbors
This is a great warm-up activity. Your students will have a lot of fun while playing this game, as they can invent some absurd complaints and act out arguments between neighbors. Hopefully, they will not have such situations in real life, but forewarned is forearmed.
For more examples of warm-up excercises, check out our article about ESL warm-up activities.
Emergency Services ESL Role Playing Exercise
In emergency situations, it is crucial to be able to explain everything in a quick and timely manner. You can ask your students to act our various emergency related scenarios, such as calling the police, ambulance, and/or fire service, and communication upon their arrival.
Hardly any person would enjoy visiting a doctor, let alone visiting a doctor in a foreign country. To avoid at least the language barrier stress, your students should practice the doctor’s appointment conversation in the form of role play activities. You can incorporate this into a lesson plan that is dedicated to medical terminology.
Many ESL students plan to move abroad, and the immigration office will be first authority they will deal with. Therefore, you can have them act out various types of conversations and questions at the immigration office in order to boost their confidence.
Accommodation Search ESL Role Playing
When a foreigner moves to another country, they must search for accommodation, and it may become quite tricky without specialized vocabulary. You can dedicate the entire lesson to accommodation-related vocabulary and then encourage your students to act out a dialogue between a land lord and a tenant.
Meeting New People ESL Role Play Activities
When integrating into a new culture, it is important to find new friends and thus practice the communication skills, such as self-introduction. You can arrange this activity at the very first lesson when your students don’t know each other yet. However, such activities from the very beginning can be stressful for some students. Therefore, you can shift this ESL role play a couple of lessons later, when the students get used to each other a little.
Asking for Directions
Everyone knows how hard it is for a foreigner to navigate in an unfamiliar city. Therefore, it is important to know how to ask for directions, and ESL role play exercises are the best way to build up this skill.
In A Restaurant
During this ESL role play, your students can act out a dialogue between a restaurant guest making an order and a waiter accepting that order.
In A Service Center
On average, a car should be taken to the service center on a yearly basis. Therefore, if someone of your students buys a car while living in a foreign country, it is important to know the vocabulary in order to have a car serviced correctly. Your students will not want to end up with winter tires instead of summer tires because of their lack of language skills. So your task as a teacher is to have them practice a dialog between a car owner and a serviceman as an ESL role play.
Fun Sales Role Playing Games
Divide your students into two teams and choose a product or service to be sold. Working in pairs, students from one of the teams should try to advertise and sell this product to another team. Then you can switch the teams.
What Are Your Favorite Role Playing Games?
Whether it’s one on this list or one that you came up with yourself, we want to know what your favorite role playing games are to teach English to kids. Please tell us what you think of these games or drop your own in the comments below.