TEACHING ENGLISH THROUGH ROLE PLAY (PREDAREA LIMBII ENGLEZE UTILIZAND JOCUL DE ROL) Role-play is a classroom activity in which learners take on a ‘role’, they play the part of someone else, from a simple discussion between a tourist when asking for directions in a new city or at the airport, to more elaborate conversation about the American Dream or Genetics. Role-play is a useful tool not only for developing language skills, but also for increasing sociocultural knowledge and intercultural awareness. Depending on how a role-play is designed and set up, it can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Frequently, role plays are used to offer a chance to practice the language of particular situations, but they can also be used to practice particular areas of grammar, sets of vocabulary, functional language and even features of pronunciation. They may not even have a specific language focus and can be used to provide opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening skills. Role-plays are simple but important way of extending the range of useful practice. There are many good reasons for using role-plays in class: – role-plays help students cope with real-life situations, commonly used expressions, forcing them to think “on their feet”; – role-plays help students work together as a team or group, and communicate in order to understand each other, because role-plays are not simple acts of reading or reproduction the information from a piece of paper; – role-plays can be adapted to the needs of the students, they may use specific vocabulary for specific situations, as learning English is sometimes done for a specific purpose; – role-plays give learners more responsibility in their learning, encouraging interaction; – role-plays offer students the chance to evaluate their learning progress and their level of English. Role-plays in general tend to have some common characteristics: they are usually spoken, but they can be conducted in written form, they usually involve role cards (role cards are very useful but not always necessary); in role plays learners are pretending to be someone else, there are also contexts when learners can play themselves; role plays, most of the time, involve some preparation, this does not mean that role-plays are always planned in advance. When using role-play as a teaching tool there are some stages to be followed: 1. Preparation time: it is very important to give students time to prepare themselves in order to understand the task and role card, to think some ideas and appropriate language. 2. Students ought to be watched and actively helped, but the teacher should avoid interrupting or interfering too much in the role-play because a role-play is usually a chance to practice using language to communicate. It is often more important being fluent and getting one’s message across than getting it 100% correct. Afterwards the teacher must give his/her feedback and correct the mistakes students have made. 3. All students should be involved as they may feel watched and judged. It is very easy to turn many activities into role-plays besides those from textbooks. Many teachers like to support role-plays with some kind of prop or realia. Using props can help make a role-play feel more real and more fun. Props and realia also give students something to ‘hold on to’ while doing a role-play, providing another level of security and confidence. Props that are easily used, being present in the classroom can be: mobile phones, a hat, sunglasses, newspapers and magazines. All these can help students feel less nervous. Each student has his/her own level of English; it is the teacher’s role to adapt the material from beginner, elementary to intermediate or advanced classes. Here are some examples of role-play activities from Macmillan official page. Celebrity party Level: beginner – elementary Preparation: complete the invitation cards with a date and place and make a copy for every student in the class. Procedure: 1. Draw two stick people on the board. Explain that they are at a party. Ask ‘What do they say? ’. Elicit the following dialogue line by line and write it on the board: Hello. /Hi. /My name is XX. What’s your name? /I’m YY. /Nice to meet you. /Nice to meet you too. 2. Drill the dialogue chorally, line by line. Focus on the pronunciation and intonation of the dialogue. 3. Ask students to practice the dialogue in pairs, using their own names. 4. Set the scene. Explain that the students are all at a celebrity party. They are all going to play the roles of famous celebrities. Give them a minute to choose who they are. Distribute the invitation cards with useful language. 5. Ask everyone to stand up. Tell them to talk to at least six or seven people. They should use the dialogue as a starting point, but can talk more if they like. 6. After the activity finishes, ask students to sit down again. Can they remember who was who at the party? Money talks Level: intermediate Preparation: prepare copies of the material so that every student in the class has a card. Procedure: 1. Write the word Money Problems on the board and ask students to brainstorm in pairs as many different money problems as they can think of. Set a time limit of 2 minutes. Give the first example, e. g. you owe money to a friend and can’t pay it back. 2. Elicit suggestions and put them on the board. Use this time to pre-teach/review the following words: owe, borrow, lend, spend, inherit, pay. 3. Explain that today the students are going to role play some money problems. You are going to give them cards to half of the students. Explain that they have the problem listed on the card and they must talk to three different people and ask for advice. 4. Distribute the role cards and tell students with the cards to talk to a partner about the problem. After three or four minutes, tell the students with the card to talk to a different partner. Note: for this activity, only the students with role cards need to move around. The other students remain where they are. 5. Repeat stage 4 two more times. 6. At the end of the role-plays, ask the students to tell their problem to the class and explain what was the best solution offered. Also, corrections can be done on mistakes or to underline the good examples of language use. Cards: 1. You inherited a very large sum of money and you don’t know what to do with it. Ask other people for advice. 2. You need to borrow some money, but the bank won’t give it to you. Ask other people for advice. 3. You think your wife/husband is too careful with his/her money. He/she never buys anything nice! You are always arguing about money. Ask other people for advice. You can do this ‘giving advice’ role-play activity with any other typical problems: work problems, love problems, school problems etc. Bibliography: 1. Lindsay Clandfield, Philip Kerr, Ceri Jones, Jim Scrivener, Straightforward, Guide to Roleplays, Macmillan, 2004. 2. Adriana Vizental, Metodica predarii limbii engleze, ed. Polirom, Iasi, 2007.
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