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Role-Play Ideas: How To Use The Smallest Possible Form Of Role-Plays

In this article, I’m going to tackle the smallest possible form of role plays: skits, and how to use them in the classroom.

The Importance Of Role-Plays

It’s important to use role-plays in the classroom because they enable you to create real-life situations and use authentic English in them.

Moreover, role-play activities are very effective in teaching language functions and spoken language.

Successful Role-Plays

The criterion of success in the performance of a role-play should not be that you get the grammar right or you get all the vocabulary in, but simply that you use language in communication to get a job done.

If the job had been done, the role-play worked even if some students thought that their grammar or stock of vocabulary is still not good!


They are simply the smallest possible form of role play.

Skits can be used to introduce and drill words and expressions which are meaningless when devoid of context.

E.g. “excuse me”, “just a minute”, “hold the line please”

These expressions need at least some suggestion of a situation to justify their use.

Usually, the most economical way to do them is by first playing yourself the role of the person who uses the expression and then changing over.

For example, if the new expression is “just a moment” and the student’s level is elementary the teacher can proceed as follows.

  • T: “Ask me the time.”
  • S: “What time is it?”
  • T: “Oh, my watch is in my pocket.” “Just a moment …. It’s 3 o’clock.” “Now ask me my telephone number.”
  • S: “What’s your telephone number?”
  • T: It’s 398…  No, 397 … Just a moment, I have it in my notebook.” (He gets out notebook) “Ah, here it is, 45653218.” “Now ask me if I have any appointments tomorrow.”
  • S: “Do you have any appointments tomorrow?”
  • T: “That’s in my notebook too.” (He has of course put it back in his pocket but now slowly extracts it again.) “Just a moment” Ah, yes I have one.” “Now ask me at what time?”
  • S: “What time is your appointment tomorrow?”
  • T: “Just a moment …..” etc.

Then, or perhaps after a few more examples, the teacher tells the student:

  • T: “Now, your watch is in your pocket; right?”
  • S: “Yes, it’s in my pocket.”
  • T: “So is your notebook. Where is your notebook?”
  • S: “It’s in my pocket too.”
  • T: “Good. What time is it, please?” (Then, if necessary, he prompts) “Just a ….”
  • S: “Just a moment ….. It’s five past three.”
  • T: “Good. What’s your telephone number?”
  • S: “Just a moment. It’s ………etc.”

You can ask the student a lot more questions and after the first few examples, you will be able to concentrate on the pronunciation, intonation, timing, etc.

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