Role-play Scenarios for ESL: Discussing Different Topics and Situations, Even Vaccination!

What is a role-play scenario?

Role-play is any speaking activity when you either put yourself into somebody else’s shoes, or when you stay in your own shoes but put yourself into an imaginary situation, also called a scenario!

I put together my favorite role-play scenarios and speaking activities which I used in the classroom and can be easily used on Zoom. Some of them are suitable for more advanced students, for example the science, and environment role-play scenarios. Other can be used with all levels, so they are also great for lower level, or younger students, for example the traveling and negotiation role-play scenarios.

When we use the activity on Zoom I always send the role-play activity to them in advance and when we have our online lesson I also share my screen with the role-play activity, so they can take a screenshot if they haven’t downloaded it. Then I put the students in the breakout rooms and they usually have 5-10 minutes for the pair work activity.

During that time, I always pop in to different breakout rooms to listen in. I correct, help and answer any questions if needed. What activities do you use on Zoom?

Role-play: Traveling

A1: You are a receptionist of a 5* hotel. You are very polite and you can deal with annoyed guests. Try to calm down the guest and solve any issues they have. Try to avoid calling the manager.

B1: You are a wealthy businessman staying at a 5* hotel. You are used to quality service and luxury, but this hotel doesn’t offer it. The room is too small, staff is rude, AC is noisy. You want to talk to the manager.

For more traveling role-plays click here.

Role-play: Negotiation

A negotiation, simply put, is a compromise. Two or more parties come together, have a discussion, and reach an outcome that addresses the needs of everyone involved.” – Forbes

A1: You have too much on your plate right now and you need help with your English essay assignment which is due on Friday. Ask your classmate for help. What would you be willing to do for them if they helped you? Think of the things you are willing to offer:

B1: Your classmate needs your help with the English essay assignment which is due on Friday. You might consider helping them if they can provide the right incentives. Think of four things you want for helping them(can’t be money):

If they agree with three of the four, you might consider helping them.

For more negotiation role-plays click here.

Role-play: Science

A1: You decided not to vaccinate your children. You read articles about vaccination and you learned how dangerous it is. It causes autism and contains lead and other toxic elements. You know what is best for your child and herbal teas and some meditation will work just fine. You are angry that your friend doesn’t support you.

B1: You are a person of science. A rational being. You believe in data, facts, and verifiable experiments. Your friend decided not to vaccinate their children. They believe that vaccination causes autism and that it is dangerous. Try to explain the benefits of vaccination and to disprove those absurd theories.

For more science role-plays click here.

Role-play: Environment

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry

A1: Many of your friends use cars to commute to work even though it is more expensive than public transport. You are concerned about the impact this irresponsible behavior has on our planet. Try to persuade your friend to switch to more eco-friendly transportation.

B1: You drive to work every day. You live in a free country and you don’t feel the need to explain yourself to anyone. Why shouldn’t you drive? Your friend’s been nagging you about it for a while. Talk to them.

For more environment role-plays click here.

Role-play: Work problems

A1: You are a project manager who has been assigned to a new project. One of the members of your new team is not co-operating with the other team members. He opposes every idea, causes conflict, and is generally difficult to work with. Talk to him and solve the problem.

B1: You have worked for this company for 10 years and you feel unappreciated. You started to work on a new project with co-workers who are not so experienced as you are and you think your manager is incompetent. You complain a lot because things do not work as they should. Your manager wants to talk to you.

For more office problems role-plays click here.

ESL Pair Work Activity: Teenager Issues

This speaking activity deals with the everyday teenager issues.

Warm-up (10-15m)

Put the students in pairs and let them brainstorm the problems and conflicts young people might have. When they are finished, put them into groups of four and let them discuss the problems in more detail. What causes these problems? What advice would you give to people struggling with them? Do they have any personal experience that they are willing to share? Circle and monitor.

Activity (15m)

After that, tell the original pair to chose two conflict situations from their brainstorming sessions. They are going to role-play the first conflict and try to find a solution. Then they swap roles and play out the second conflict. Circle and monitor.

Problems: failing a subject, alcohol abuse, no money for new mobile phone/sneakers, etc.

Conflicts: with my dad because he grounded me for nothing, with my mom because she forces me to play the piano but I hate it, with my math teacher because….., etc.

Debrief (5m)

What advice did the students come up with?

Was it easier to play the role of a child or of a parent? Why?

How did they solve their conflicts?

Download the PDF version here: Teenager Issues

Other role plays:

Ridiculous Holiday Complaints: Reading And Speaking(Role-play) ESL Lesson Plan

ESL Communication Activity: Science Role Plays

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity: Role Play Debate

ESL Teaching Idea: Class Speaking Activity

Level: Upper Intermediate, Advanced

Age: 16+

 Monolingual classes of ESL/EFL                                                                                             

This activity is great for practising fluency and improvising.

1) Tell each student to chose a topic they know a lot about, are passionate about and can talk about it for hours. Give them 5minutes to prepare a short lecture/presentation in their NATIVE language. They can only write brief notes/bullet points. Don’t tell them more at this stage.

2) When they are ready, tell them that they are going to present their lecture/presentation at an international conference, but unfortunately, they don’t speak English so they will need an interpreter. (Explain that they will interpret consecutively.)

3) Put Ss in pairs and explain that they will interpret each other’s presentations. Give them 5-10minutes so they can familiarize themselves with the topic and important vocabulary that will be used in the presentation. At this stage, they can use the notes they previously prepared.

4) The conference starts! The first pair of students gets on stage ( in front of their classmates). The speaker starts their presentation and after every couple of sentences pauses so the interpreter can repeat what was said in the target language. At this stage don’t correct the Ss, let them speak and write notes so you can provide feedback later.

5) Don’t let them speak longer than  5 minutes. If time allows, you can let the audience ask follow-up questions which will need to be translated from L2 into L1 and then the answer back from L1 to L2.

6) After everyone had their turn, provide feedback on the mistakes they made and don’t forget to praise them!


Download this activity in a PDF file.

Class Speaking Activity

More speaking activities:

ESL Speaking Activity Worksheet: Business Plan

ESL Group Speaking Activity: Language Centre Simulation

ESL Speaking Activity: Conditional Discussion Questions

ESL Speaking Activity: Business English Role Plays

No-prep Speaking Activity: Warmer And Filler For ESL Classes

ESL Group Speaking Activity: Language Centre Simulation

This is a great ESL group speaking activity  (16+/adults, intermediate/upper intermediate).

It covers various topics: education, jobs, communication.

It teaches the students to co-operate, voice their opinion, it fosters creativity and gives the students enough room to make their own decisions and maintain a certain level of independence.

It is suitable for groups of 4 or 5 students, each of them will choose their role in company management and together they have to plan their language centre business.

Stronger classes need minimal supervision and encouragement, weaker students might need some help (especially when your students are not very creative).

Teacher’s notes are included in the PDF file.


Download here>>>>Language Centre

Other speaking actvities:

ESL Speaking Activity: Conditional Discussion Questions

ESL Speaking Activity: Business English Role Plays

32 Inspirational And Creative Job Interview Questions For ESL/Business English Students.

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity: Role Play Debate

32 Inspirational And Creative Job Interview Questions For ESL/Business English Students.

Great speaking activity for older students when teaching jobs, or for adult students in Business English classes, or for your one-to-one lessons.

These questions are everything but boring and I can guarantee that they will spark interest in your students.

The questions are real interview questions compiled from different websites.


Download the FREE PDF>>>>>Inspirational And Creative Job Interview Questions

Will Your Students Steal A Car?: ESL/EFL Simulation Activity

This ESL simulation activity is for a group of four students, B1-B2 level, 15+ age.  

I find it’s best to use this activity after teaching crime vocabulary, and after teaching some basic concepts of peer pressure, argumentation, and manipulation. What I like about this activity is that the character cards don’t tell the students what decisions they should make, it’s purely their choice.

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