One of the best things to do with ESL beginners is a role play. ESL role playing activities are ideal for getting students to have conversations with each other, even though their language abilities may not be high. These role play topics cover many common real-life interactions that language learners may experience. This can help them gain confidence to go out into the real world!
Why Use ESL Role Plays?
Keep on reading to find out how to use role-plays ESL in your classes, along with some of my top ideas for topics. Here are a few reasons why you might consider doing some role-playing in a language class:
- They can help students gain confidence in speaking.
- Role plays are ideal for getting students to use target grammar or vocabulary.
- They’re ideal for beginners who want to work on speaking.
- Students have some degree of flexibility and can be creative to finish off the conversation.
- It’s a multi-skill activity (listening, speaking and writing)
Role Play Topics and Ideas
Here are some of my favourite ESL roleplay ideas to try out with your students.
If you’re teaching about emotions like happy, sad, angry, annoyed, consider using this simple role-play for beginners.
A. Hey ____. How are you doing today?
B. I’m good, how about you?
A. Oh, I’m _____ (negative emotion).
B. Oh no! What’s wrong?
A. I ______.
Here’s a quick role playing idea for discussing illness.
A. Hi ______. Oh! You don’t look good. What’s wrong?
B. I feel terrible. I _____.
A. That’s not good! ______.
I like to have my students practicing ordering food at a restaurant or coffee shop using a role play.
Server: What can I get you?
Customer: I’ll have the _____.
Server: Sure. Anything to drink?
Customer: Yes, I’ll have _____.
Going out for Lunch
This is a quick role play topic for friends who are talking about what to eat for lunch.
A. Hey _____. Do you want to have lunch after class?
B. Sure, how about _____?
A. Oh, I don’t like _____.
B. Okay, what about _____?
This is a role playing idea for someone who is late meeting a friend.
A. _____! You’re ____ minutes late!
B. I know. I’m sorry. I ______.
Asking for Directions
When I teach students how to ask for and give directions, I will often do a role-play exercise. For example:
A. Excuse me, I’m lost. Do you know where the _____ is?
B. Oh, I think it’s _____.
Procedure for ESL Role Playing
Here are the steps to follow when using roleplay activities in class.
- Prepare a conversation starter as a handout or on the PowerPoint.
- Optionally, pre-teach some language that students may want to use during the conversation. Write it on the board or PowerPoint for students to refer to.
- Students complete the conversation in pairs. They can use their dictionaries or ask the teacher if they need help with grammatical structure or vocabulary.
- Students memorize their role play.
- There are a few options at this point. Students can perform their role-play for the teacher, another pair or two of students, or in front of the entire class.
- Optionally, reward teams for an interesting conversation, good acting, no reading, and correct use of the target grammar or vocabulary.
Even More Ideas for ESL Role Plays
Role plays are an effective way for English learners to practice their language skills in a dynamic and interactive manner. Here are some role play scenarios that can help learners improve their English proficiency:
Restaurant Role Play
- Customer and waiter: Practice ordering food, asking for recommendations, and handling common restaurant situations.
- Restaurant manager and employee: Simulate a conversation about a customer complaint or a problem with an order.
Hotel Role Play
- Guest and receptionist: Engage in conversations related to making a reservation, checking in/out, requesting services, or dealing with issues like room changes or complaints.
- Hotel staff and concierge: Simulate a conversation where the guest seeks recommendations for local attractions, transportation, or directions.
Job Interview Role Play
- Interviewer and candidate: Practice common interview questions, discuss qualifications, experience, and showcase skills relevant to a particular job.
- Interview panel and candidate: Simulate a panel interview where multiple interviewers ask questions and evaluate the candidate’s responses.
Travel Agency Role Play
Customer and travel agent: Discuss travel plans, preferences, and budget while the agent offers suggestions, makes bookings, and provides necessary information.
Travel agent and tour guide
Simulate a conversation where the tour guide provides details about a specific destination or excursion.
Doctor-Patient Role Play
Practice medical-related vocabulary, symptoms, describing ailments, and providing advice or prescriptions.
Nurse and patient
Simulate a conversation involving taking vitals, discussing treatment plans, or explaining medical instructions.
Shopping Role Play
Engage in conversations related to product inquiries, trying on clothes, negotiating prices, and making purchases.
Customer service representative and customer
Simulate a conversation where the representative handles a complaint, refund, or exchange request.
Airport Role Play
Traveler and immigration officer: Practice passport control conversations, answering questions about the purpose of the visit, and dealing with potential issues.
Airport staff and passenger
Aimulate a conversation regarding flight information, baggage inquiries, or resolving travel-related concerns.
More Role Play Conversation Ideas
If you need some more ideas for roleplay topics, have a look at some of these resources:
Did you like these Role Play Ideas?
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- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
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Role Plays for ESL Students FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about using role plays for English learners. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What is role play ESL?
Role play ESL is a simulation where students act out real-life situations such as ordering food at a restaurant or checking in at a hotel. They are designed to build confidence in real-life situations and are a nice activity for beginners.
What are some good roleplay topics?
Some good roleplay topics for language learners are the following:
- At the airport
- Checking in at a hotel
- Ordering food
- Making plans with a friend
- Asking for directions
How do you teach English role-plays?
To teach English role-plays, follow a few simple steps.
- Pre-teach the necessary grammar or vocabulary.
- Give students the beginnings of a conversation.
- Have students work with a partner to finish the conversation.
- Students can perform their role-play.
- The teacher can give some feedback.
- (Optional) Follow-up activities or questions.
ESL Role Plays: Join the Conversation
Do you have any recommendations for using role play conversations in language classes? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API