topic + "show me..." role-playing classes
November 9, 2008 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Looking for EFL topic + "show me..." ideas...

I teach oral English to college students in China. I just had a really successful class of teaching about boyfriends + girlfriends. It's a 45 minute class with 30-50 students.

Last week I spent about ten to fifteen minutes kicking around a conversation about dating in China vs America while adding a few words to the board (they loved "make out"). Then I wrote on the board, "show me the best date ever OR the worst date ever", gave them a funny 30-second example of what I think could be the worst date ever, then gave them five minutes to prepare their own with a partner. It was wonderful seeing them tear through their dictionaries to learn words and then use them! It went really, really well. Every student had fun and volunteered to speak in go in front of the class - not an easy thing with Chinese students.

I need more ideas like this! My coworkers and I are at a loss.

Closest idea: "sell me something" in which two students at a time to come up to sell a random object in their possession. It works at getting them to talk, but it's missing the interesting discussion part... haggling just isn't a great topic of conversation.

Any genius ideas for a topic + "show me..." pair-work class?

Please don't link to a random EFL idea website. I'm looking for a something unique to their age, English level, time constraints, and class size. This format works well, so I'm looking for more like it.

Some good conversation topics that could use good "show me..." role-plays: jobs/interviews, marriage, the environment, travel, college life... of course I'm open to other topics too!
posted by trinarian to Education (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about a scenario related to bias or difference? This is a huge topic of interest to my college-age raised-in-Taiwan foster daughter. Need not be about race, but could be village versus city, American in China, English language versus Chinese language. Maybe a skit with the "most clueless American has his/her first day in China." Or a person tries to convince his/her friends to accept a new friend who is different.

Or parents -- parents is a big topic for that age. Maybe a scenario in which there is a struggle between child and parent. Where the child has to break the "worst news possible" to the parent.

School assignments -- how to convince a professor to accept a late assignment. Giving excuses.

Hmm, other than parents, school assignments, dating, and difference, the only other thing my kid talks about is karaoke.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2008

How about a sentimental item, but rather than the typical show & tell, pair the students, have each student explain to the other in English why the item has meaning, then has this student explain to the class.

"This is Chin's great grand mother's broach. He was given it to pass on when he gets married."

Then you could also do cultural customs, point out the type of things different cultures value.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:24 AM on November 9, 2008

Are college students in China as passionate about music as they are in the US? How about something like "Show me what would you say or do if you got to meet your favorite band/singer?" with one playing the fan and one playing the performer?
posted by platinum at 11:01 AM on November 9, 2008

I teach ESL myself--there are some books on discussion topics that might be helpful for future activities. But here are a few I thought of, with your best/worst format. (Did people actually choose "worst," by the way? Sounds like fun! :D)

Travel/tourism topic + vacation. (A lot of students probably want to travel abroad someday or work with tourists.)

Restaurant/eating out topic + dinner out.

Cooking/food topic + cooking dinner.

Socializing/invitations + party.

Gift-giving/politeness/thanking + gift exchange.

I like platinum's idea and think it could work well with movie stars, etc., too.
posted by wintersweet at 12:34 PM on November 9, 2008

What's a typical (or holiday) family meal like? If you're trying to keep it limited to partner pairs, it might be a challenge, but if you're willing to have 3-4 students together, they could have fun comparing their own family traditions and coming up with an amalgamation for the skit.
posted by knile at 2:20 PM on November 9, 2008

Response by poster: Good ideas, everyone!

wintersweet - the problem with things like " + gift exchange" or "+ travel" is that "show me a gift exchange/travel" is too broad for them to find an interesting angle in five minutes (or maybe any amount of time). With the dating class, they instantly knew they had two predigested angles (funny [worst] or romantic [best]) they could take and got to work ASAP. Most girl groups took the romantic angle, and typically apathetic boy groups wanted to outdo each other with humor.

I could always do "show me the best/worst gift/trip ever", but I'm hoping to find some other angles.
posted by trinarian at 4:39 PM on November 9, 2008

I'm teaching ESL in France and something that I did along the "show me..." lines was waiter-customer interaction at a restaurant. People in France don't generally tip, and waiters here are not as super duper friendly and happy as in America.

I explained to them general restaurant procedure in the US, then talked about how US and France differed, and then told them to act out a scene in a restaurant - waiter and customer - and reminded them that the waiter had to really please the customer because he was making $2.13/hour before tips and needed tips to survive. IT worked out pretty well.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 3:04 AM on November 12, 2008

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