A shopping role play
Paul Kaye, British Council
This activity gives learners at an intermediate level and above the opportunity to use interactional language in a role-play situation. The task of going shopping along a typical British high street. Half the class have shopping lists and the other half own a shop.
There are five shops:
- a computer shop
- a news agent's
- a fruit shop
- a small supermarket
- a language bookshop.
The cards are structured so that some discussion and negotiation is necessary to find most of the things on the learners' shopping lists. In addition, each list also has a short task typical of normal interaction in the street, for example asking the time or directions to a bank. At higher levels learners can be encouraged to elaborate on the conversations and make them more complex.
Before the class, copy and cut up the cards on worksheets A and B, so that there are an equal number of shoppers (worksheet A) and shop owners(B). The ideal number is five of each, you can duplicate the cards if your class is larger than 10. If you have less than 10, your learners won't be able to find everything on their lists, so warn them.
- If you are practising language, review useful structures with the class first, e.g. 'I'm looking for a…', 'I wonder if you can help me, I…', 'How much is that?', etc.
- Hand out the cards to the students making sure there is an equal number of shopping lists and shops.
- Give the learners time to read their cards and ask you about any problem language. They also need to think about what they are going to say, and what language they will need. You can group the shoppers together and shop owners together to do this.
- Point out to the shop owners that they may need to decide how much their products cost before starting.
- Set up your classroom to represent a street, with each table being a shop if possible. Ask the learners who own a shop to prepare a card (folded piece of paper) saying what shop they own.
- Start the role-play. The shoppers need to find everything on their lists and complete their short task also.
- Monitor the activity for interesting language or for problems, which you can feedback afterwards. Try not to intervene too much at this stage.
- Keep the role-play going until enough shoppers have completed their tasks.
- Put the class into groups and ask them to explain how the shopping (and selling) went, and what problems they had.
- Feedback open class on any interesting language points.
N.B.These cards can be exploited in any way, e.g. as practice after looking at interactional language or common vocabulary, as a spontaneous speaking exercise, or as a diagnostic for you to see what your learners know. You can review the language needed for the task before or after the roleplay, depending on your aims.