Culture Role Play: Role Cards

You are a Pandya


  • You prefer to talk to people from your own culture instead of people from other cultures
  • You only speak when spoken to. You do not like to start conversations with outsiders
  • You are always very formal. You say ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ and never use first names only. You always use ‘please’ ‘thank you’ ‘excuse me’ and so on.
  • Women have more status than men. Women should always accompany men
  • Men do not talk directly to women from another culture. They talk through the woman who is with them.
  • Men also do not make eye contact with women from other cultures and if a women touches a man, it is scary. Your woman companion should take you away quickly.
  • It is scary when a woman from another culture tries to talk to you.
  • Men do talk to other men.
  • Among your own people, you can speak to men and women freely.
  • You like to have very short conversations. You do not like to talk for a long time. If someone tries to talk to you for a long time, you will walk away.


You are a Chispa


  • You are an informal and friendly culture. You like to talk to new people.
  • You call everyone by their first name
  • You use a lot of slang and informal expressions.
  • Men and women are equal in your culture and there are no separate roles
  • You are very outgoing. You like making friends and talking to people from other cultures.
  • You like to talk for a very long time. If someone walks away, you follow them and keep talking.
  • You believe it is good for women to talk to men and men to talk to women, especially from outside cultures. That way everyone learns something.
  • You like to touch people, shake hands, touch the shoulder while you are talking to someone.


Restaurant Roleplay for Beginners

restaurant roleplayThis restaurant role play is how I teach beginner students to order at a restaurant. The goal of the lesson is to get them to do a role play of being at a restaurant, so the focus of the lesson is as communicative as possible. In addition, I have an intermediate/advanced level restaurant lesson that you can check out.

Restaurant roleplays are a great way to teach students survival skills. They also provide a basic customer service dialogue that they can modify. And I like how they absorb more complex grammar such as “would” without having to parse it just yet.

This full lesson plan helps ESL false beginners and low-level students practice ordering at a restaurant. The lesson includes:

  • complete teacher notes
  • a warm-up
  • an exercise that elicits key language
  • an exercise to write a sample dialogue
  • work with some target vocabulary and grammar
  • materials for a role play including sample menus and a sample dialogue for students to follow.


  • To give students practice ordering in a restaurant
  • To practice the structures “I would like” and “May I have”
  • To promote fluency and automaticity

This restaurant role play lesson plan has been moved to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can purchase and download it there.

Excuses Game

I’m sharing a fun game that I just made up. I invented it to practice “Can you/Sorry, I can’t” as a way of inviting people. However it could also be used to practice a variety of structures for inviting and refusing invitations. It could be used to practice “Would you like to …”. It could be used to practice vocabulary of activities, or time phrases,  the present continuous for future plans or any number of grammar or vocab points.

The activity is pretty simple. Student A makes an invitation. Student B refuses and gives an excuse. So an exchange could look like this:

A: Would you like to go out for dinner tonight?
B: No, I can’t go out tonight. Tonight, I’m visiting my aunt and uncle.

From there, you can do a couple of different things.

1) You can make a class chain in which Student B then invites Student C to something, Student C refuses, gives an excuse and then goes on to invite Student D. The chain can go around as many times as you feel the class needs.

Depending on the level of the class and your objectives, the events and excuses could all be unrelated or fit into a larger story. Student B’s excuse why he can’t go with Student A could become the event that Student B invites Student C to do, for example.

2) Or you can turn it into a creativity  game where Student A continues to try to invite Student B to various activities and Student B continues to refuse. The fun here is in seeing how many activities Student A can think of and how many excuses Student B can come up with. As a variation, Student A can keep track of Student B’s excuses and try to either find a free time or find a contradiction, essentially busying Student B for lying. After 5-10 invitations, have students switch roles so both share the feeling of being turned down repeatedly!

Beauty, Inc.

Beauty product

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


Warm Up

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.

The Situation

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:

  1. President
  2. Mercedes Richgirl
  3. Minister Coolson
  4. Chief Financial Officer
  5. Mary Simple
  6. Journalist One
  7. Press Officer
  8. Journalist Three
  9. Journalist Two
  10. Vice President
  11. Press Assistant
  12. 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.

Survive This Lesson Plan

Students love role plays and interesting situations. Everyday English is important but students often react well to unusual situations too. Survive! is a lesson plan that makes students imagine that they have survived a plane crash and must decide which items they will need to survive. Of course the fun of the lesson is that different students have different ideas of what survival means.

Does it mean finding their way to civilization? Keeping comfortable until wild animals kill them or they die of hunger? Or waiting it out til rescue planes come?

Learn How to Complain

Beauty Inc is a fun role play for students involving a meeting between a large corporation and victims of its faulty products. Great for large or medium sized classrooms and a great way to get students talking, particularly more advanced students who get bored with drilling and answering exercises. Encourages students to be creative while introducing a real life situation. What do you do when a company sells bad products that don’t work? Or worse, turn you into a freak?

Role Plays

Ever since ESL Flow, I’ve been getting a lot of traffic to my lesson plans. One of the most popular lesson plans is called culture shock and gets students talking about different habits and manners in different cultures.

Since it’s getting so many hits, I’ve typed up a related lesson: Cultural Role Play, which is basically adapted for ESL lessons from a Peace Corps exercise.

It’s a fun exercise where you give students one of two different cultural roles to play with very different standards of behavior and ideas of what is normal. If you don’t like my variation, you can make up your own. The fun part, and where students will be forced to use their language, is when you make the student’s cultural rules conflict.