Training guide


4. Storytelling, songs, games and roleplay

4.3. Roleplay

Roleplay is when learners have a role to play and they speak and act in that role, taking on the behaviour of the character they are playing. There is no script but it is important that learners are given enough information by the teacher to be able to take on the role.

Roleplay can help learners develop the confidence to speak in different situations, for example, by pretending to shop in a store, provide tourists with directions to a local attraction, or buy a ticket.

You can set up simple scenes with a few props and signs, such as ‘Restaurant’, ‘Clinic’ or ‘Church’.

Ask your learners, ‘who works here?’, ‘what do they say?’ and ‘what do we ask them?’ and encourage them to act out the scene and make notes of the language they use. In rural areas, roleplays could involve chiefs, hunters, family life etc.

Roleplay can develop older learners’ life skills. For example, in class, you may be exploring how to resolve conflict. Rather than using an actual incident from your school or your community, you can describe a similar but detached scenario that presents the same issues by asking learners to play the role of someone who experienced a specific situation. 

With older children, roleplays can be used to explore controversial issues, with different groups researching different sides of the argument and then having a structured debate.

Roleplay has a number of advantages, because it:

  • develops an understanding of other people’s feelings through exploring real-life situations
  • promotes development of decision-making skills
  • actively engages learners in learning and enables all learners to contribute
  • promotes a higher level of thinking.

Activity 2.9: Planning a lesson using roleplay, a story or a game

Choose a lesson from next week. With your partner/s think of a situation in which you could use roleplay, a story or a game. Think back to group work and plan the roleplay with learners in groups; make notes in your Teacher Notebook on the setting, characters, resources and language needed.

Alternatively, think of a game that would be appropriate and useful for your learners to play in a specific lesson. Plan the game with your partner/s.