Role play with Business English

Role play can be a particularly effective way of providing practice for the participants on a business English course, and it is invariably popular. The participants may well be familiar with this approach from the business training courses they have completed. It involves the participants in taking on a role in the same way that an actor might take on a role on the stage.

The participants in role play will have a situation to work with and their role card will state who they are, what they want to do, and what their attitude is. If the card has been well prepared, the participants will be clear about how they should respond, although there may be some degree of choice.

There are at least four reasons why you should include role play in all of your business English courses.

  1. The change of activity is always welcomed by participants and will help to keep your sessions lively and interesting, as well as keeping the participants alert and active.
  2. Role play gives the participants the opportunity to practise the new language that they have been working on in the course.
  3. It helps to make them aware of gaps in their knowledge and the language that they need to practise and learn.
  4. Role play can help you to assess the progress of your participants; as they are fully involved in their activity you can observe their actions and also keep a check on their language. You can address some of the points arising from your observations in the feedback session after the role play.

What sort of role play activities would be appropriate in a business English class? Here are just a few possible examples.

  1. Person A is the designer of a new style of cordless iron for the home and he is looking for a manufacturer; B is the managing director of a manufacturing company but is sceptical about this product.
  2. A is the managing director of a small company; B is the advertising director and wants to advertise the products on television. The MD is keen on advertising in newspapers and is unconvinced about the value of television advertising (in terms of costs and returns) so B has to try to persuade the MD.
  3. A sells clothes but doesn’t like products made of fur. However, her company is losing money. B produces products such as short jackets, stoles, gloves and belts made of fur. B has to try to persuade A to sell his products. There are high profit margins in fur products.

The next page on simulation games provides a comparison with role-play.