Jun 14

Teaching one to one - Advice on roleplay

teaching productive skills
Using roleplay in one to one learning situations
If you teach one to one, roleplay is a great way to develop your learner's confidence and language, but what if they feel inhibited? Here are some tips to help.

Video transcript

Do you teach one to one, online or face to face? If so, this video is for you! I’m Jo Gakonga from ELT-Training.com and if you want a useful, low prep, high output idea for your 1-2-1 lessons, keep watching…

A couple of weeks ago, I had a message from a teacher who said….

I teach 1:1 business English online -  work with professionals living abroad who already have a very high level of English (C1) but need to fine tune. The trouble is that it's so difficult to find suitable materials!  I want to use role play of business situations - for example, the S needs to give feedback to their team on a project.

 I've tried this before but the role play doesn't work too well because the S feels under additional pressure to perform well as their partner in the role play is the teacher and an expert. I was wondering if you have any advice on the best way to conduct a role play in this context.

As with any teaching situation, there's no magic answer to this, but I do have a few thoughts for you. Role play is a brilliant way to help learners gain confidence and useful language in exactly the kind of situations that they need English for but it CAN BE a bit embarrassing to act a role, especially with your teacher. The first thing, of course, is to be as encouraging as possible and make them feel comfortable - rapport with your learners is super important here - but I’ve got three other, more concrete suggestions on making this work, though – so here we go….

Number 1- Remind them who they are

My first small tip to help with the whole ‘I’m embarrassed to do a role play with you because you’re the teacher’ is to remind them that you're NOT the expert at business/ giving feedback - you're the LANGUAGE teacher! Ask them about the context, find out what they would say in their language in this situation- use their expertise.

Number 2 – Give them a model

The second tip I have is that a good way to support your learner is to put yourself, the teacher, in the role that they need to perform at work. If they’re a manager and have to give feedback to staff, YOU be the manager and let them take the role of the person who’s receiving the feedback.  You could even tell them to be difficult – a bit argumentative -  to make it more interesting. What this does is effectively to give them a model. You could record it, play it back and pick out, highlight and teach them some of the useful language that you used. The next stage, of course, is to swap roles and do it again with them in the manager’s role.

Number 3 – Do it all again

 My final bit of advice is one that I bang on about quite often, so you might have heard me say this before…. but this is (ironically) quite appropriate because I believe that Repetition in learning and retaining anything is helpful.  When your learner has done the roleplay in their role, get them to do it again. The first time you do something, you’re busy thinking of the content, but the second time you’ve got more brainspace to focus on the language and getting it right. Again, recording this can really help. Do the roleplay once -  record it and play it back – you could use otter.ai to transcribe it – this is brilliant – and talk about how to improve it linguistically and content wise. Then do it again - and possibly again... maybe in the next lesson as a recap.

So that’s it. I hope that these few ideas help with your one to one learners, whatever their context and thanks for watching.

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