Roles in ESL Education

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Discourse and Real-Life Roles in the ESL Classroom

Suggestions have been made (DiPietro, as cited in DiPietro J. R., 1981) as to how the ESL/EFL teacher can provide diverse learner personalities with strategically oriented material. Students get the chance to practice discourses in classroom settings but not always in the same way that the learners will use in real-life interactions. This article proposes a categorization for different roles of English learners in the classroom. The author established three types of roles: social, emotive, and maturational. He believes that through a multidimensional model of dialogue, some exercises can be developed and implemented in the classroom to lead these second language learners to role play in simulated natural setting while acquiring knowledge of the grammatical structure of English.
The author points out three main ways to incorporate role-playing in the classroom; social, emotive, and maturational. What he means by this is that as English learners children must also learn the many different roles they will come across once they are ‘mainstreamed’. A social role for example would be that of vendor/customer, employer/employee, or taxi driver/customer, just to name a few. An example of an emotive role would be that of a friend or rival, a role that could potentially be sensitive or touchy. Finally, maturational would define those roles that we learn as we grow up or mature. Some examples of maturational roles are mother/daughter, adult/adult, or child/child.
The author’s main point is that “We teachers should provide our students with enough English (a) to recognize the role-intentions of others, and (b) either to complement those roles or to counter them with personally-desired ones”
There are many possible ways to incorporate these role-playing ideas into the classroom. One idea that came to mind would be to do what I call ‘ Script Mix Up’. The idea is to write up a type of script in social, emotive, or maturational style. Then mix what the characters are saying around on a sheet of paper that will be passed out to students. Have them come up to the board and write these in the correct order. This activity not only makes them have to interact with one another to come up with the right choice, but it will make students have to think about what is the right order of conversation in different situations. Another possible activity that the author states is interactional games.
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