TESL Canada Journal, Volume 29, Issue 2, 2012

A Critical Role for Role-Playing Pedagogy

Shawna Shapiro, Lisa Leopold


This article draws from practitioners’ experience and from scholarship in a variety of disciplines to construct a rationale for incorporating what we call “critical roleplay” in the English-for-academic-purposes (EAP) classroom. We discuss the historical significance of role-play in TESOL and explore why this type of pedagogy has become less prominent in scholarship from recent decades. We argue for a new direction in role-play pedagogy that foregrounds critical thinking as essential to academic literacy. We describe several role-play activities that were successfully implemented in college-level EAP classes to demonstrate that academic role-play can be both cognitively challenging and linguistically relevant.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v29i2.1104

ISSN: 0826-435X
Online ISSN: 1925-8917 

TESL Canada Journal is indexed in CBCA Education (Canadian Education Index), EBSCO, ERIC, The Gale Group, and H.W. Wilson