Role-Play: A Productive Teaching Method to Enable Critical Thinking among EFL Students
Aprilia Windi Lestari
English Language Education Program, [email protected]
EFL students’ critical thinking are needed to enhance in order to build up their comprehension while learning new language. Rao (2011) stated that the aim of learning can be reached easily if the activities of learning concern about engaging the students by giving them chance to build on their knowledge, active participation, self-critique and practice. According to that statement, build on self-critique or critical thinking can be one of a way to achieve the purpose of learning effectively. According to Rashid ; Qaisar (2017), they support that critical thinking is considered as essential tool in developing students’ intellectual in educational context. It means that developing students’ critical thinking is important in order to promote not only base knowledge, but also the intellectual level.

Most of teachers believe that role-play can help both students and teacher to gain active learning and even to gain critical thinking skills. The experience that Rashid ; Qaisar (2017) found in Pakistani’s EFL students, using traditional teaching strategies just would be limiting productivity and critical thinking among students because the focus of the strategies only for transferring knowledge. In order to enhance EFL students’ critical thinking, Rashid ; Qaisar (2017) suggest that role-playing strategies can be used as a method that provide productive environment in promoting critical thinking. According toAdrian et al. (2014), active role-playing can promote students’ appreciation, knowledge of effective oral communication, and improve interprofessional teamwork. In Rashid & Qaisar (2017), it is found that role play strategy can be used as an effective strategy to help students in enhancing their critical thinking skills. Students can practice through role play to improve both their communicative and critical thinking skills. According to that, we can see that role-play is effective to implemented in collaborative -learning method and communicative learning method (CLT).

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By seeing this, the use of role-play is considered as a strategy to promote critical thinking among EFL students in order to not only develop their knowledge, but also develop their ability in comprehend new language (English) based on context to reach the purpose of learning effectively and efficiently.
Critical thinking is one of skills that everyone should has beyond listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Another researcher, Guo (2013) stated that critical thinking is the main point of education. Students who are closely related with education term need to have and even improve their critical thinking skills. Most of people relate critical thinking with creativity, but according to Chan (2013), she stated that her participants believe that critical thinking is more important than creativity. Chan’s statement is related with Russ (1993: 11) who stated that critical thinking belongs to creative skills, and without critical thinking, the other skills just like unavailable resources. However, people are supposed to improve their critical thinking skills in order to catch not only the main point of education, but also to make their other skills become more meaningful. Critical thinking also can be used as a base in solving a problem.

Yet In fact, students nowadays are having difficulties in solving problem because they lacks of critical thinking skills. People cannot deny that solving a problem is one of difficult things to do. Not all of people even students can solve their own problem easily. Therefore, Chan (2013) suggest that role play is one of strategies of problem-based learning approach that can help students to decrease their difficulties in enabling problem-solving skills. Practice is supposed to be done whenever the people and or students need to improve their ability. In this situation, doing practice through role play continuously can help them to improve their ability, especially their critical thinking skills.

Some researchers believe that critical thinking can be improved through many ways such as role-play. Role play is a strategy of learning that mostly used by teachers to enhance students’ motivation in learning. Rashid & Qaisar (2017) stated that role-play involves both students’ motivation and active participation.While role-playing, Students are asked to imitate the role of characters which definitely different with them to enable their critical thinking to demonstrate a real life situation (Rashid ; Qaisar, 2017). In addition, Baile ; Blatner (2014) also stated that role-play is a learning approach that is used for building up the first person experience in a safe environment. It is useful to help the students with big anxiety to speak out while learning new language. They do not need to be themselves while practicing to speak. They can imitate another characters freely without getting ashamed because they deliver the character’s statement not their own statement.

In short, the relation between role-play and critical thinking is definitely close. The use of role play not only to imitate the role of characters, but also to build up critical thinking which is needed by the students to catch the main point of education as stated above.

Another researcher tries to develop the role-play strategies in order to make it become more interesting. Stokoe (2014) modified the role-play strategies that we usually know into Conversation Analytic Role-Play Method (CARM).the differences between the CARM and the old one is animated-audio and video recordings are used in CARM, so the students not only to be asked for imitating conversation, but they also can discuss about the performance through video recordings.

However, teachers should modify the role-play strategies while teaching EFL students. Teachers can modify the role-play strategies by seeing on what students’ needs in order to make the learning activity become more interesting both for the teachers and students. Students will be more motivated if the learning activities are suit with them.
There are some purposes of using role-play strategies in teaching EFL students. Adrian et al., (2015) found that both oral and communication skills are improved through role-play strategies. Baile ; Blatner (2014) support that role-play can be used to develop student’s knowledge, thought, feelings which are usually used to set their behavior. Another point of view based on Grose (2017), students will be easier to understand the study from some viewpoints while using role-play strategies in learning. Role-play is usually used by teachers to engage students’ motivation and participation such as what Rashid ; Qaisar (2017) said.

Generally, motivation is the most essential thing that students suppose to have while they are learning. Without motivation, both students and teacher will not be able to reach the purpose of study.

By understanding those statements, it can be concluded that role-play has some advantages for EFL students. Role-play can promote the students’ critical thinking, communication skills. It can also improve their thought and feelings which affect their behavior in the future.
There is no a perfect teaching strategies. Anyone cannot claim which is the best strategy to be used in teaching-learning activity. Every strategy has its own benefits and flaws. Another teacher will say that role-play is the best strategy, but it is going to be different with others. For example, Stokoe (2014) said that using role-play just for ask student to demonstrate the conversation will be less interesting, therefore he modified the strategy by using animated audio and video recordings in order to make the class lively by doing discussion after role-playing.

In order to make the perfect strategies, teachers are allowed to combine some approach or strategies. Another strategies will be a complement for other strategies. So, it should be mixed and matched as necessary.

Choose the topic
The teacher decides the topic for today’s learning. Fable is a good genre to be used as topic of learning through role-play because each fable has moral value. If the students are used to with moral value in their daily life, it will help the to create their own good personality.
Divide students into groups
Students are divided into groups which purpose is for demonstrating the dialogue that will be given. Students are not allowed to choose their own group because the teacher will do that to make it more conducive and fair.

Giving dialogs to the groups of students
Each two groups will be given the same dialogue related to the topic. It is aimed that they can demonstrate the dialogue with different ways according their comprehension and their point of view. Students will be given 15 minutes to prepare before speaking through the dialog.

While speaking
Practice to speak
Students are asked to demonstrate the dialogs. The pronunciation and intonation are based on their point of view. This situation helps the students to know how far they can comprehend the dialog based on their reactions in demonstrating the dialog.

The audience taking notes of the groups’ performance
The audiences are asked to taking notes of groups’ performance. It can be comments or suggestions. The audiences are even allowed to state their own point of view of the dialogue.

Discuss the students’ notes
In the end of activities, teacher open up the discussion section in order to know what the audiences’ comments or suggestions. The teacher also will states the general point of view in order to make the same comprehension about today’s learning.

In conclusion, critical thinking can be defined as crucial competence that students have to improve. Critical thinking can be developed in many ways. Role-play can be used as strategy to help students to enable their critical thinking skills. By using role-play, not only critical thinking that will be improve, but also the communication skills which make the purpose of learning can be reached easily and effectively.

Adrian, J., Zeszotareski, P., & Ma, Caroline. 2015. Developing Pharmacy Students Communication Skills through Role-Playing and Active Learning. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 79(3).Baile, Walter,F., & Blatner, Adam. 2014. Teaching Communcation Skills Using Action Methods to Enhance Role-Play in Problem based Learning. Simulation in Healthcare.


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