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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Over the past decade, there has been an increasing push for foreign language teachers to use a communicative approach to language instruction. One area this can be seen is through role-plays, activities where students take on a persona other than themselves to complete a task in the target language. Despite the growing popularity of role-play, there has been little empirical research looking at the impact of role-play on students. In particular, the differences between large group and small group role-plays remain virtually unstudied.

This thesis looks at role-play in Chinese language classrooms from the perspectives of both teachers and students. To obtain the teacher perspective educators throughout Massachusetts were surveyed about their attitudes and approach to using role-play. To better understand student attitudes towards role-play, a wide variety of role-plays were observed and data was collected from the participants.

Observations of over fifty role-plays showed that large group role-plays have a wide variety of benefits including: increasing student enjoyment, providing more opportunities for peer learning/teaching, and enabling teachers to give more immediate feedback. These implications as well as other suggestions for how to successfully use role-play in the language classroom are explored more fully later in the thesis. In order to make role-play more accessible to foreign language teachers, a series of role-play lesson plans based on the principles discussed are also provided in the appendix.


First Advisor

Zhijun Wang

Second Advisor

Rhonda Tarr

Third Advisor

Yuki Yoshimura