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ESL Role-play Cards (Intermediate – Advanced) Set 1

ESL Role-play Cards (Intermediate/Advanced) – Set 1

(Note: Set 2 can be found here: English Telephone Skills Role-Play cards and Set 3 here: Role-play Cards Set 3) ESL role-play cards are great for warm-up, honing communication and negotiation skills, and making a lesson fun. Below are 7 role-play scenarios which I use in my classes. I teach many business English classes, so most scenarios are business-related. Use the role-play cards you find suitable/interesting.

Role-Play Card Instructions:

  1. Download and print the role-play cards.
  2. Put students in pairs. Ask each student read one side of one a role-play card, silently, to his/herself. When ready, have them begin the role-play.
  3. Take note of their mistakes (without interrupting) and encourage your student to debate and make it interesting. Tell them to use their imagination and try to win their position (where applicable).
  4. Discuss mistakes, commend students, and make recommendations when they have finished.

Student A Role Student B Role
(1a) You are a working man/woman who has a large family. You are at work. Your boss wants to talk with you.
(1b) You are a manager. You have an employee that hasn’t been performing well. He/she is often late. He/she also spends a lot of time checking his/her private emails and strange websites instead of doing work. Yesterday, you caught her/him sleeping at his/her desk. Please fire the employee (in a nice way).
(2a) You are a manager. You are in your office. Your best employee knocks on your door. He/she wants to talk with you.
(2b) You are at work. Please tell your boss that you have accepted a position at another company, so you will be leaving the company in 2 weeks.
(3a) You are a boss. Tell your employees that because of the economic crisis, they will be taking a 20% pay cut. This pay cut actually started last month, but you forgot to tell them. Also, you will need them to come in on the weekends for the next few months, until things get better.
(3b) You are at work. Your lovely boss has an announcement.
(4a) You are the manager of a busy company. One of your employees wants to talk with you.
(4b) Your boss has been forcing you to work more and more overtime every week. You have also been given many extra responsibilities that do not fall under your job description. You haven’t been able to spend much time with your family, and your husband/wife is threatening to divorce you. Please talk to your boss.
(5a) You are walking on the street.
(5b) You are on the street.
You lost your job last month because of the economic crisis. You also got kicked out of your apartment yesterday because you couldn’t pay rent. You are hungry, and essentially, homeless. Convince the other person, who is a stranger to you, to help you.
(6a) You are a doctor. Your patient is very unhealthy due to excessive drinking and smoking (cigarettes). He/she also eats unhealthily and does not exercise enough. Convince him/her to change the way he/she is living, or he/she might die.
(6b) You are at the doctor’s office. You have just had a health checkup.
(7a) The family next to your house has a dog. The dog barks loudly every night, and you can’t sleep. Tell your neighbor to make his dog quiet. Tell him/her that if the dog doesn’t shut up, you’ll do something about it yourself.
(7b) Your neighbor comes to talk with you about your lovely dog.

Related Articles:

– ESL/EFL Business English Role-play cards copyright Matthew Barton of English Current

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30 Comments on this page

  1. najma (Posted January 25, 2012 | Reply)

    Write role-cards for the following role-plays:
    o A meeting to discuss the possible purchase of new premises in a foreign city.
    o A telephone call to a colleague, telling her that you can’t make it to the meeting because you urgently need to visit a supplier, and ask for a postponement.

  2. admin (Posted January 25, 2012 | Reply)

    You forgot the magic word (“please”).
    Also, your English is fine. It looks like you’d be able to write them yourself. Although, the first situation would require background company information, and the second one would only take up about 20 seconds to act out.
    Good luck.

    • Gabrielle (Posted February 28, 2016 | Reply)

      Years since you replied to this but I just read it – haaaaaa! Some people, huh?!

  3. Emily (Posted July 24, 2012 | Reply)

    Thanks for these role-cards. I’ve been looking for good negotiation ideas for a while for my students, these are great.

  4. Bob (Posted September 14, 2012 | Reply)

    These are awesome and will work well for my high school business students. Thank you!

    • Mary (Posted January 30, 2014 | Reply)

      Please, please stop using awesome, unless something really is awesome.

      • Sue (Posted June 11, 2014 | Reply)

        Dear Mary,

        Suppose Bob really thinks that these suggestions are awesome? No need to be the word police.

        • pendant (Posted May 24, 2016 | Reply)

          As long as people stop using words like “marvellous”

  5. Darren (Posted January 2, 2013 | Reply)

    I’d be more impressed with this if I hadn’t found so many grammar and spelling errors.

    • mb (Posted January 3, 2013 | Reply)

      Can you give an example?

      • Kerry (Posted March 21, 2013 | Reply)

        I’m not sure that they are spelling errors. It’s American English. Examples: neighbor, talk with (not talk to), on the street (not in the street).
        Although these ones might just be mistakes: Terminate the employee. Make his dog quiet?

        • Deanimator (Posted May 13, 2013 | Reply)

          I´d probably “terminate his employment”. ;)

          • mb (Posted May 13, 2013 )

            Okay. I changed it to ‘fire’ the employee ;)

  6. Anna (Posted January 24, 2013 | Reply)

    The role cards are fantastic! My students enjoy role playing these situations! Thank you!

  7. Rachelle (Posted May 22, 2013 | Reply)

    Thank you for these Role Play cards my students loved them!

  8. Anonymous (Posted July 5, 2013 | Reply)

    this is what i ve been looking for. thanks. it will help a lot.

  9. Yulia (Posted October 24, 2013 | Reply)

    I’d been thinking of creating them myself before I found yours. Here they are ready to use. Thank you. Maybe I’ll be able to develop something myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Leonor Alcantara (Posted December 16, 2013 | Reply)

    Could it be possible to have flash cards making business or a trade market meeting, please? thanks so much, best regards, Leonor A.

    • mb (Posted December 16, 2013 | Reply)

      Hello. Thank you for the kind request but unfortunately trade markets are not my area of expertise. I’m not sure what kind of situations would arise at such a meeting. All the best.

  11. serna (Posted January 21, 2014 | Reply)

    Thanks! Great cards. just right for my adult conversation class as they love role play!

  12. shashi Prabha Nagendra (Posted March 8, 2014 | Reply)

    Awesome topics! Extremely helpful

  13. Vannessa (Posted June 10, 2014 | Reply)

    They were a relief!!! Thanks a lot 

  14. Delores (Posted November 2, 2014 | Reply)

    Thanks :-) I always enjoy your role plays. I do take the liberty of a minor change here and there (usually just to correct for the difference between British and American English and spelling), or to place it in a more culturally accurate context (I am in Beijing). But you always have a great basic framework to work with. THANK YOU.

  15. Reine Babin (Posted July 1, 2015 | Reply)

    Thanks so much for the cards.My students will really enjoy this.

  16. Damian (Posted August 24, 2015 | Reply)


  17. Tatiana (Posted November 25, 2015 | Reply)

    Thanks a lot! You are doing a great job!

  18. M Saravanapava Iyer (Posted November 27, 2015 | Reply)

    Nice guidelines!!

  19. Selene Jurado (Posted February 29, 2016 | Reply)

    super helpful, thanks!!!!!!!

  20. Agnelo Smith (Posted August 3, 2016 | Reply)

    Can u give set 4′ 5 & 6 as it was really helpful.thanks

    • mb (Posted August 3, 2016 | Reply)

      The download link is above.

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