Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Posts tagged ‘drama’

Picture role plays

I’ve been investigating role plays as part of my Delta reflection. I rarely use them because I never enjoyed them as a language student, but I think some students would respond to them very well.

Today I adapted an activity from Role Play by Gillian Porter Ladousse, called ‘Picture role plays’, with pre-intermediate (A2+) students.

  • I put a few pictures from eltpics around the room. Each picture showed a minimum of two people, and it was relatively easy to imagine that they were having a conversation. First, students walked around in pairs discussing what they could see. To prompt them, I had the question words Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? written on the board.
By the river

Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @acliltoclimb, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

  • Each pair chose their favourite picture and took it back to their desk.
  • They chose one person in their picture to write a mini biography of.
  • These were quite short, so I then asked students to read all the biographies and add one question under each.
  • The students then had to ‘inhabit’ the person they wrote a biography of and have a conversation with the other person in their photo.
  • Finally, they wrote out the conversation.
In the rain

Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @inglishteacher, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Shaun Wilden brought picture role plays to my attention during his seminar at the recent IH Online Conference. You can watch his session here and read the original description of the activity here.

Did it work?

Yes and no. The quieter students were very creative in the biography, and added lots of extra details. My favourite was ‘My grandmother loves playing chess and is the world champion.’ However, when it came to the roleplay, the conversation was quite stilted. They did ‘inhabit’ the role a little, but for the quieter students this was very difficult. The more confident students really seemed to enjoy it, and were arguing quite a lot about the correct language to use.

We had been practising indirect questions during the week, and one or two of the quieter students got them into their conversations. However, I didn’t have a particularly clear aim for the activity. It was very much a ‘Friday afternoon’ activity.

Doing it again

With role plays, you definitely need some kind of clear aim. Why do the students need to imagine the conversations between the people in the photos?

Most of the language work I did with the students was in their pairs. It would be useful to work more with the language and build on it further.

We didn’t have time to repeat the role play, and this is definitely something the students would benefit from.

Do you have any other advice?

(This is one of a series of shared mini reflections on some of the activities I’m trying out during my Delta. The first was here.)

What shape is your classroom?

20121025-201925.jpg
Photo by me, also shared at http://flickr.com/eltpics, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Today, mine was plane-shaped. A simple thing like moving the chairs into a different formation, and me standing at the front giving a very brief safety briefing (In case of emergency, the fire exits are in that corner…), was enough to get students imagining they were on a plane and meeting strangers for the first time. It only took a couple of minutes to move the chairs, and it created the right atmosphere immediately.
It helped me to easily set up a role play – something which I’m trying to introduce to my lessons as part of my Delta reflection, by getting students in the right mindset. It was also easy to end the roleplay, as all I had to say was “Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the seatbelt sign and we will soon be coming in to land.”
Have you ever tried anything like this? Apart from buses and planes, what other environments have you created?
(This is the first in what I hope will become a series of shared mini reflections on some of the activities I try out during my Delta.)

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