Role Playing Experiences…

Hi everyone!

Today the focus is on a difficult experience for students – participating in role plays. Research[1]  shows that role-play experiences reveal an array of interpretations that may disclose important information for teachers. The data comes a question that asked how the task of preparing, performing and watching role-plays of classmates becomes a learning experience.

Ana Esther: We were working on our role-play while classmates presented. So as I wanted to go up front, I didn’t pay much attention to my classmates’ presentations.

Cristina: The first thing I observe is that they struggle with public exposure as I do. I have lots of difficulty with that. But, they try and they manage… So we see them try and make it and it encourages us. Yet, one does not overcome fear immediately … I start shaking; I can’t look at people as I’m role-playing. I get nervous and still haven’t overcome my insecurity.

Fernanda: It’s embarrassing… the fear of making mistakes compromises your speech … words disappear… but I think if you know the content, you don’t experience that kind of thing because you can relax. When you have doubts, you are afraid of making mistakes. If we had problems, they can be accounted to our insecurity.

Paula: I lack the courage to go to the front of the class and speak on account of pronunciation – I’m afraid of saying something with the wrong pronunciation. But, I think that’s silly of me because this is how I see it – if you mispronounce, you can learn …  but when I did it with my classmate, I realized I lacked the vocabulary, but we managed to keep the conversation – it wasn’t wonderful, but we enjoyed doing this simple task.

Reginaldo: Look, sometimes I think we spend lots of time with [role-play] preparation. If [the teacher] reduced preparation time we’d have time to see other things in class. But we presented in spite of being afraid of saying [something stupid] in class and of people’s watching – I get kind of shy. But we did it…

From these experiences teachers learn that it’s important to

(1) avoid that students’ continue preparing during presentations;

(2) advise students that nervousness is part of the experience;

(3) engage in role-plays – the more engagement, the less nervous they’ll feel;

(4) remind students that making mistakes is vital for learning;

(5) control preparation time.


[1] MICCOLI, L. S. Learning English as a foreign language in Brazil: a joint investigation of learning experiences in a university classroom or going to the depths of learners’ experiences. Ph.D. Dissertation (Education). Curriculum Department. OISE, University of Toronto, 1997.

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Laura Miccoli

Laura Miccoli is a professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and a researcher, consultant, and founder of Transforma Educacional – a social business to develop teachers professionally. She has authored “Ensino e Aprendizagem de Inglês: experiências, desafios e possibilidades” and “Aproximando Teoria e Prática para Professores de Línguas Estrangeiras”.

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