This is a roleplay about a company that makes defective products. Students play officers of the company, angry customers, and journalists.
- Improve speaking fluency
- Express opinions, pros and cons of different ideas
- Make compromises and negotiate
Tell students they are going to do a roleplay today. Explain that they will be attending a press conference of a company that has a serious problem with its products. Tell them that it’s a cosmetics company. After checking that they know what cosmetics means, ask them what kinds of problems someone could have with cosmetics. Don’t let this go on too long; you just want to get them thinking. Then ask them to think about what a company that sells defective products could do. Try to elicit a range of positive and negative reactions i.e. reimburse their customers or deny the whole thing. Again, make the discussion short so you don’t preclude the roleplay. The whole warm up should take 10-15 minutes.
Hand out the Beauty, Inc. Situation and give students a few minutes to read them. Go over it by asking them questions:
What kind of products does Beauty, Inc. make?
Is it a successful company?
What is Powerful Woman?
Who did they send Powerful Woman make-up to and why?
What are the problems?
What is Beauty, Inc. doing?
What is the purpose of the meeting?
Spend some time to make sure they understand the situation well. Otherwise they won’t be able to participate in the role play well.
Preparing the Roles
Now hand each student one Beauty, Inc. Role Card and give them time to read it and understand it. I advise having weaker students prepare some key phrases they might want to use, or at least make some notes. Otherwise they will end up just reading from the card.
One activity to get students thinking is to have students write in one sentence who their character is. Then write what they want. Then write how they can get what they want in the situation. On the other hand, more advanced students will be able to get going pretty quickly.
Running the Role Play
Once you feel that students are comfortable with their roles and what they are going to say, tell them that the Press Assistant is in charge of the meeting and will decide who speaks. Often it’s a good idea for you, the teacher to be the Press Assistant, but a stronger student can also handle the role. The Press Assistant should make sure everyone gets a chance to talk, and speakers can be prompted to stay on topic or respond to what has already been said.
You may also consider structuring the discussion. One structure is to give every person an opening statement and let the Press Assistant write a summary of their positions on the board to generate discussion later.
You might announce that the purpose of the meeting is to negotiate a compromise and the meeting will end when the company offers something that all of the victims can agree on. In this model, the journalists may play more the role of provocateurs.
Finally, another trick that works well in roleplays and debates is to have each student repeat a summary of what the last student said before responding to it. This ensures that students listen and that they answer what people say instead of giving pre-prepared speeches.
As a closing discussion, ask the students if they have ever bought anything that didn’t work. If anyone says yes, ask them to talk about what they did about it and why. You can share your own story as well, if you have one.
Then discuss, what kinds of rights and responsibilities customers have and what role the government should play in protecting consumer rights. You could extend this discussion into a writing assignment where they have to write to the President of a company, complaining about one of their products, particularly if a student has a real and current problem.
There are 12 roles. If you have fewer than 12 students, the roles in order of importance are:
- Mercedes Richgirl
- Minister Coolson
- Chief Financial Officer
- Mary Simple
- Journalist One
- Press Officer
- Journalist Three
- Journalist Two
- Vice President
- Press Assistant
- Professor SmartovichIt’s important to have an equal number of pro- and anti-company people. The VP and Professor Smartovich are sort of fun add-ons for complexity and the Press Assistant, who runs the meeting can be played by you, the teacher. If you have more than 12 students you might want to divide them equally into pro- and anti-company camps and have them write their own roles, with their own arguments or complaints.As with any roleplay, it’s important to make sure that the students fully understand the situation. Be sure to help them with any vocabulary so they know what is going on. It’s a good idea to give them a lot of time to think of how they will play their role, even though they may be ready to go almost immediately. Encourage them to write down key phrases they might use so that they don’t just read their card when the activity begins.