Incredible benefits of learning English through role-play

23 Mar Shelley Vernon 2 Comments

Have you ever wanted to use ESL role plays and skits in your English classes but you don't feel sure of yourself?


Dragica Zdraveska is a talented and inspirational English language teacher who has fun with esl plays and skits at a primary school in Macedonia. She tells her story below from wanting to use role plays with her children, but not getting around to it, to finally taking the plunge and discovering a world of fun and motivation for her young ESL pupils.


Here are her comments from her experience with the short ESL role plays. You'll see from the final video that children really do love learning English like this and that ESL role plays really are a way to make your teaching more fun, more interesting, more motivating and MORE EFFECTIVE!


So what are you waiting for? Read Dragica's article and take the plunge to make short, fun ESL role plays for children a part of your English lessons.


Now let's hear from Dragica:


"I was by no means unfamiliar with the benefits of using drama, role-plays and skits for children in the ELT classroom. As an ardent conference and seminar attendee, I got acquainted with the basics and was very keen on using ESL role-plays and skits when I first began teaching English. As time went by I experimented and introduced different activities and took various approaches toward teaching English and got somewhat sidetracked from my basic interest in using drama and ESL role plays for children in class.


The main reason I hadn't use ESL plays and skits as often as I would have wanted was the fact that I couldn't find proper material in terms of content and level of English. Apart from that, I thought that it would be time-consuming and that my very young students wouldn't be able to stay focused and concentrate long enough for me to pull it off.


cover for book Fun ESL Role-plays and skits by Shelley Ann VernonHowever, once I came across Shelley Ann Vernon's book “ESL role plays and Skits for Children” I could no longer make excuses since the role plays were all I have ever wanted. Simple, straightforward, catchy and interesting they were perfect for exploration and use. I presented them to my English students certain that they would share my opinion and enthusiasm.


I carefully read them beforehand and chose the ones I found most appropriate and relevant in my context in terms of vocabulary and structures. For example, when we learned about places in town we decided to stage the ESL skit “Let's go for a walk” which gave a wonderful touch and wrapped up that particular theme. I wanted to start with vocabulary themes the children were familiar with to make it easier for them but also more meaningful. Moreover, I was realistic in my expectations English language and acting-wise.


What I was aiming at was the use of the plays and ESL skits in the classroom with virtually no props and as part of regular classes. We decided to stage at least one short ESL role play “properly” and perform it in front of parents, which helps parents feel included and involved in their child's progress. We are working on making them perfect!

children acting three of shelley ann vernon's skits

Prior to the short ESL skit, we had activities and games to recycle vocabulary and structures. We also made a booklet, drawing sketches of the scenes from the role play, featuring the characters in the skit and their speech in bubbles. We did matching and guessing activities, associations, pantomime, etc. What I take to be the biggest success was the children's willingness to participate no matter how uncertain they may have felt about the language, which meant the first and the most difficult step had been taken.


Some children were very shy and didn't feel at ease when I filmed them which made them react differently and not perform the role play or skit as well as they did when they weren’t recorded. That was what I consider to be a major drawback.* Furthermore, I felt that correcting them while they spoke would backfire and they would step back so I tried not to interrupt and instead discussed the error or hesitation with them afterwards. The video I made also revealed that their pronunciation was occasionally unclear and some phrases sounded ambiguous at times. That gave me food for thought and encouraged me to prepare my students better and practice the short ESL skits far more so as to gain better results.


What I am sure about is that using ESL role plays and skits helps children learn English, improve their acting and social skills and learn structures, vocabulary, everyday phrases and soon in an authentic manner and while having fun! I recommend these short ESL role plays and skits for children to any teacher wanting to make learning English more enjoyable while giving English learners a boost in confidence."


Dragica Zdraveska, English language teacher at Cyriland Methodius Primary School, Prilep, Macedonia

* Note from Shelley: Wait until the skit is fully learned before filming. When children are confident enough to perform it, that's when they will enjoy showing off in front of the camera.

PS Teachers and parents, you will find extracts from Dragica's video on YouTube, here:


I am an english language teacher living in France. I have already bought FUN ESL and I use it every year. My kids and their parents love them.
Dear Brigitte, Thank you so much for your kind comment on this blog. I am so glad that you are getting good use out of the skits - well done to you for getting stuck in! All the best Shelley

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