Learning a foreign language takes a lot of practice. Memorizing lists of vocabulary words and writing Chinese characters over and over again can be very tedious. Keeping lessons fun and engaging is critical to success in developing language skills.
There are many ways to engage language learners in hands-on activities and lessons. Earlier, I shared 100 Chinese Learning Activities. Watching videos, learning songs, and role playing are some of our favorite. Today, I would like to share with you the process by which we use role playing.
The first step is to write a script. This can be done independently, one-on-one with their language instructor, or in small groups. As both of my children are learning Mandarin and their abilities are relatively similar, they often work together on the same script.
Working collaboratively and using the vocabulary assigned by their instructor, they write out a conversation that incorporates the new vocabulary. Typically, he will require a certain number of sentences from each of them to assure they are dividing the work equitably. They generally begin with "Hello." (你好.), "How are you?" (你好吗？), and "I'm good, thank you."( 很好，xiexie.) amongst other common greetings but these do not count towards the required number of phrases they are instructed to incorporate .
They submit their script for review and upon approval, begin working on memorizing their lines. When they are comfortable with their lines, they begin to rehearse the script with one another.
They will also gather materials for props. Recently, they have begun to get more creative in their production, choosing "exotic" locations; essentially somewhere other than our living room where we must use our imagination to envision the appropriate surroundings.
Role playing provides them with the confidence to communicate more comfortably with native speakers. They have in their minds familiar topics with which they can ask questions and respond to inquiries of others.
I love role playing because it encourages them to work together (something siblings sometimes struggle with). Not to mention, it is so much fun!
Here's my favorite - coincidentally also the most recent.