Real-life English enters your classroom when you incorporate role plays for adult ESL. Your students need speaking practice, not to survive in your classroom, but to live their lives OUTSIDE your classroom. If you haven’t been using role plays written specifically for adult ESL, now is the time! Here are four reasons why your students ought to be doing role plays.
Reason #1 They can be someone else while doing role plays for adult ESL.
Starting in a new place can be liberating for some because they can re-invent themselves. Others need a bit of a nudge. Role plays call for students to adopt a different persona while playacting a situation they’re likely to encounter in the future.
Self-created personality boundaries can dissipate with the role play’s permission to be someone else. Self-identified limitations fade away with the practice gained while acting out credible plots. Give them another hat to wear, or even a literal mask, and see who emerges! Playing a role lets them fake confidence until true confidence can be built. When they are acting out a situation that they may one day be in, the real-life English they use has meaning that can’t be found in acting out a fable or fairy tale.
Reason #2 Vocabulary is relevant in real-life English roleplays.
When you use role plays for adult ESL, you are incorporating an activity that will compel students to apply the vocabulary and sentence structure they’ve learned in a real-world context. It will be relevant to THEM, not the grade book.
Not only will creating sentences with newly acquired terminology help cement it into their lexicon but using it authentically will demonstrate to them the essentiality of knowing those particular words.
I’ve had those students who gripe about needing to learn words that they think they don’t need simply because they haven’t needed them yet. Create situations that necessitate the words, and they’ll get it!
Reason #3 Role plays for adult ESL can demonstrate a purpose for grammar.
Got students who struggle with the past perfect because they can’t see a practical use of it in their own lives? Craft a real-world scenario that will provoke an obligation to use it to communicate what needs to be said. Once they see a purpose for the grammar, applying the concept becomes second nature. Empower them to recognize how critical it is for conveying their message, and they’ll come around!
Reason #4 They bring English to life outside the classroom.
Themed vocabulary and grammar exercises have their place, even in a worksheet format, but too often don’t require much higher-order thinking. Role plays for adult ESL give students the green light to dive deeper into the content. Quite frequently, ESL students view the classroom as where English happens, especially if they use their first language in their community, at their jobs, and with their children. Role plays catapult their thinking beyond the classroom walls into scenes that will require them to think on their feet…in English. They won’t just be memorizing a set of sentences. They’ll have to think about what the other person might say and how to respond appropriately.
Are you up for the challenge?
I challenge you to look at the upcoming concepts, themes, and topics in your classroom and design scenario cards for your students to produce their own role plays.
It might be messy at first, but mistakes and awkward moments have to happen for true learning to emerge.
Of course, if you are like most teachers and simply do not have the time to create resources from scratch, you might like to peruse all the role plays for adult ESL resources I’ve already developed.
Read more about speaking activities in adult ESL!
- The Amazing Power of Role Plays in Adult ESL
- Everyday Role Plays Perfectly Tailored for Adult ESL: 3 Easy Steps
- 3 Powerful Reasons to Incorporate Conversational Visits in a Speaking Activity
- Free Talking: Getting Low-Level ESL Students to Talk
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