Activity 17: Housemates Roleplay

▶ Duration:  20–25 min
▶ Aim:  Oral fluency practice; politely disagreeing
▶ Summary:  Two housemates try to resolve their conflicts.

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This short roleplay activity requires no materials apart from a blackboard. The situation is actually roleplayed twice, with some phrases for "politely disagreeing" introduced before the second round. The idea behind this is that the first round will hopefully help the students realise the importance of being polite in order to avoid arguments, and so they will be more receptive to the new language which helps them achieve this.

Write this on the blackboard before the activity:


  • I can't live without music!
  • I have a bad memory.
  • I'm a bit short of money right now.


  • I can't concentrate on my study.
  • I'm always tripping over your things.
  • Didn't we agree to take turns buying food?


Explain only that these sentences are from two different people, A and B. Ask, "Who are these two people, and what are they talking about?" Give the students a minute or two to discuss it with a partner (make it clear that they should only discuss your question, not attempt to roleplay the situation yet!).

Elicit the fact that A and B are housemates, and then explain the situation in more detail: they are not close friends, but they are living together in order to save money. However, lately B has been quite annoyed by some of A's habits. Write these habits on the blackboard, explaining them at the same time:

  • plays loud music (all the time!)
  • leaves his/her things all over the house (books, clothes, bags, etc on chairs, tables, and even the floor)
  • doesn't pass on messages (if one of B's friends calls and leaves a message, A never remembers to pass it on)
  • never buys food (when they moved in they agreed that A would buy the food one week, B the next week, and so on)

Ask who probably starts the conversation. B, of course. Suggest a polite conversation starter, such as:

"Could I have a word with you please?"

Then get the students to roleplay the situation in pairs. Afterwards, get some feedback from a few pairs. Was the conflict resolved, and if so how?

Now introduce and drill some phrases for politely disagreeing:

Now get the students to swap roles and repeat the activity, making use of the new phrases. It's a good idea to get them to swap partners too—this should help keep the momentum up. At the end, get more feedback on how their conversations turned out.

If you intend to ask the students to swap roles and also swap partners before the second round, you should plan it carefully to avoid wasting time. In most of my classes, the desks are arranged in three columns which are each two desks wide, so here is the way I managed it: for the first round, I assigned roles so that everybody on the left-hand desk was A and the others were B (check that everybody knows their role by getting them to put their hands up). Then for the second round, I simply asked all the "A" students to stand up and move to the desk in front of them.

As in Activity 7: Short Roleplays, each character's three prompt sentences could be written on a roleplay card instead of on the blackboard. In this case, the 4 conflicts still need to be written on the board.
Rating: 5 stars

I've have good experiences with this activity, with the students getting quite involved in the roleplay. My students also seemed quite willing to work with a new partner for the second round.

hello myname is enes
how are you
'm very fine
'm 15 years old
'm from turkey in bayburt

enes oktar []
10.03.2005 , 21:36