Paula Swenson

review of EFL activities book ~400 words

Title:  Role Plays for Today

Author:  Jason Anderson

Publisher:  Delta Publishing

Components include:  Photocopiable Activities Book

Summary:  this collection of 39 ready-to-use role plays, based on ‘real world’ situations that your students might actually find themselves in, is a resource worth owning.

Reviewed by:

Paula Swenson

Review date:

November 2006

My positive reaction to this excellent resource began when I opened to the table of contents to discover an actual table which, at a glance, shows each role play’s topic, language functions, grammar used, and key vocabulary, as well as the levels for which it is appropriate.  No getting excited about a topic only to discover the grammar is all wrong for your class or the target vocab is too tough/too easy for your level.

I love the ‘real world’ categories, which are not only real, but also relevant to adult students (although I think teens would welcome much of this more grown-up material).  The ‘real world’ categories are:  Services, which includes practical things like Passport Control, enrolling in a gym or visiting the Post Office;  Shopping, which includes shops and restaurants;

Social Life, dealing with friends, strangers, flatmates & phone calls; and Lifestyle, which gets into work, education and accommodation.  The final group is a bit less “real” but fun to explore  Creative Role Plays includes activities like fortune telling, murder mystery and TV chat shows.

In his introduction, Anderson makes the distinction between role plays, where students take on a new identity and simulations, where students respond as themselves, and he has included activities of both types in the collection and, indeed, points out where the teacher can choose to go either way.  An extremely useful aspect for me is that many of the activities have more than 2 parts, so there are more possibilities for recombining and extending the activity if needed or desired.

Some activities target language points that are very specific, while others involve a broader range, allowing teachers to choose where and if to place the focus on grammar or on fluency and language production, listening and responding, and so on.

The preparation and Instructions sections are very clear and straightforward.  The lead-in and follow-up suggestions vary in helpfulness, but as the activities themselves are very strong, it’s not a serious weakness.

With such normal and useful situations, set up quite creatively and geared to adult learners, Role Plays for Today is a resource you’ll turn to again and again. 

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