Getting Them All into the Act: Using Audience Participation to Increase the Effectiveness of Role-Play Activities


  • Elaine K. Horwitz

    1. University of Texas, Austin
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      Elaine K. Horwitz (Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) is Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas, Austin


ABSTRACT Foreign language teachers often use role-play and simulation activities to encourage spontaneous language use in the classroom. Although these activities are a useful tool in developing student communicative competence, they have several inherent problems which can limit their effectiveness. Typically, three or four students act out a scene while the rest of the class watches. The majority of the class, therefore, has no active role in the activity.

This paper describes several organizational strategies designed to increase the level of audience participation in role-play and simulation activities. By giving non-performing students a specific task during a role play, they become more involved in the experience, and the time devoted to these activities becomes more productive and more enjoyable for all students.