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Have you ever wondered how to keep kids super excited about English lessons while they learn vocabulary words?
Well, I’m all about using authentic, realistic materials in my “classroom”. (Let’s face it, my “mini classroom” is mostly one-on-one tutoring lessons). However, I think a lot of the authentic materials I produce and use would work well in small groups, and even larger classrooms.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve really been focusing on roleplays.  In fact, I had an adult student ask me if that’s how we could spend our next few sessions

How To Set Up A Roleplay Lesson Plan In 3 Easy Steps 

First of all, why would you even want to use roleplay in class?  Well, if you missed my post on 5 ways to use roleplays in almost any class, be sure to check that one out first.

I believe creativity and having fun is crucial!  This especially applies to kids and beginner adults, because they often have a hard time getting their point across and get frustrated when they don’t have useful phrases to say or enough vocabulary to express meaning.


Step 1: Prepare The Context (Script)

First, be sure you’ve done a little prep work and have created a script.  (There are free samples in my printables library!) I’ll also be creating packages for roleplays in my upcoming Teachers Pay Teachers store in Spring 2019 for all of you busy teachers. (I’ll add the link here once it’s live!)5 Reasons To Use Roleplay ESL

All you have to do is think about what you would say in a basic situation.  For example, at the airport you may need to talk to a customer service agent, a security agent, and customs.  One of my adult students told me last week that that was one the worst parts of her recent trips to the US and the UK.  She wanted to be able to communicate better at the airport!

Write a short script, and be prepared to update it based on students’ needs.

Step 2:  Teach Key Vocabulary Words

Okay, this one is quite simple.  I like to put some keywords in bold in the script itself. Before reading the script, and definitely before letting students practise with a partner, I teach vocabulary words.  For example, in an airport script, you may need words like customs officer, counter, baggage claim, luggage etc.   

Once they have a good grasp of the vocabulary words, go to Step 3.

Step 3:  Practise The Script Together

Now all the fun begins!  If you are running a private session, you’ll have to be one of the speakers. If not, have students choose a partner and practice reading the script out loud.  Hopefully, you’ll have time in class to get students to present to their classmates. They can even add props, memorize the script, or improvise to make the interactions (like an airport scene) seem more real. 

*Advanced Challenge:

If you find that these scripts become too easy for more advanced students or quick learners, try creating a worksheet where you leave blanks on some lines and have students fill in what they would like to say.  Next, you can have them continue the story and create a whole script on their own. 

Let them be creative and come up with a problem that occurs in each situation (the restaurant, the dentist, the bank, etc.) While you can teach vocabulary words for all of the scripts you write, you may find that students learn a lot more when they have to find vocabulary words themselves.


The Adventure Passport

How To Get Students Excited About Vocabulary Learning

So, this is an idea I came up with when I was doing a lesson on camping and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (or Girl Guides, as we call them in Canada!).  It turns out that here in Spain there are multiple versions of Scouting and different organization who plan different adventures.  The girls I was teaching had never heard of Scouting and so it was a fun way to begin the lesson.

Since we had just finished a travel unit, I incorporated some of the travel vocabulary we’d learned. Then, I remembered an activity we’d once done at a Girl Guide summer camp I attended years ago.  We were learning about different countries and got to create our own “passports”, going around to different stations to learn about each country. Once we knew a little about the country and had “visited” it, we received a stamp.

Well, why stop at countries?  I asked the girls I was teaching how they’d feel about creating a passport and earning “stamps” every time they completed a unit or activity.  They were ecstatic! (Kids love stickers 🙂 )

So, every time we complete an activity they do well, they receive a stamp.  So far we have “cooking”, “travelling to Japan”  (that’s where they wanted to travel), and “camping”.  You’ll be surprised how much fun they have acting out the roleplays. 


Other Vocabulary Games

Another game to check out is my  Vocabulary Treasure Chest idea, that I find students love.  It’s a little box where they get to keep their vocabulary words in a physical format, and later plays games with them. You can grab all the details here

Don’t forget to sign up for my free printables library, too, where you’ll find a ton of free lesson plans I’ve tried and tested with my students.

    Free Printables Library


What About Vocabulary Words For Adults?

Can you use roleplays for adults? Absolutely!  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one of my adult beginner students was asking if that’s how I could set up our next few classes.
I’ll admit that sometimes adults get a bit more frustrated in roleplays than kids do.  As a speaker of other languages, I completely understand. It’s frustrating when they teach vocabulary words in second language classes, and we forget how to use them on the spot! Little by little, with patience, students get used to using scripts to start at first.  Then, they can improvise and even add real-life situations that have happened to them.    With authentic, realistic material they’ll be speaking confidently in no time!
For more ideas, be sure to check out my previous post on how to teach vocabulary words to kids or beginner adults
Happy Teaching!
P.S. Photography lovers, the main image for this post is one I took in Two Hills, Alberta on a camping trip years ago. (Gotta love tent camping!)

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