ESL Roleplay Archives

Restaurant ESL

Taking your young adult ESL learners to a restaurant, or at least talking about restaurant culture, is an important step in acclimatizing them to life in a new country through a very “typical” English experience. As you probably know, restaurants are the perfect way to introduce a number of different subjects to your students:

• Food
• Table etiquette
• Manners
• Asking directions
• Common restaurant expressions

Exposing students to the above subjects is an important step in building confidence for life outside the home. Restaurant experiences are often spontaneous, so they require students to be ready and comfortable with the language.  James from Engvid provides several great teaching points you can incorporate into your classroom lesson or class trip to a restaurant. Here are some things he highlights:

• The differences between fast food, casual and fine dining
• Using “May I have…” or “Can I have…”
• The meaning of “Party of” or “Table of/for”
• What’s in a menu?
• What is a drink order?
• The differences between appetizers, main course, pls sides or substitutes, and dessert
• What is a “Special”
• Paying for the meal; cheques, bills, taxes and tips
Check it out below!

While “role plays” have their place in the classroom, there’s nothing better than experience to really cement something in a students mind. That’s why taking them out to a restaurant for the real thing is invaluable.

Go over the above points during one or two classes and get your students comfortable. Then take them out for a meal and coach them through the experience. They’ll be nervous and make mistakes, but with you there they’ll begin to build up their confidence.

Good luck and good teaching.

Question: What is your favourite kind of restaurant? (Leave a comment below):

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Valentine’s Conversation Starters

  • What is Valentine’s Day?
  • What is the origin of Valentine’s Day? (Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?)
  • Is Valentine’s Day celebrated in your country?
  • How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in the United States?
  • How do children celebrate Valentine’s Day in school?
  • What do you usually do for Valentine’s Day?
  • What do you plan on doing this Valentine’s Day?
  • Do you make any special food for Valentine’s Day?
  • On Valentine’s Day, is it more common for men to give gifts to women or for women to give gifts to men?
  • What are common gifts that people give on Valentine’s Day?
  • What is your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
  • What is your Valentine’s dream? If you could do anything or receive anything on Valentine’s Day, what would it be?
  • Do you know anyone that has become engaged or married on Valentine’s Day?
  • Would you want to get engaged or married on a holiday? Why or why not?
  • What is a “valentine”?
  • Have you ever gotten a valentine or love letter on Valentine’s Day?
  • What is Valentine’s Day like for singles? (What do single people do on Valentine’s Day?)
  • Do you think Valentine’s Day makes single people feel lonely?
  • Do you think Valentine’s Day is too commercial or consumerist?
  • What are common gifts that people give?
  • Do you know anyone that has gotten engaged or married on Valentine’s Day?

PDF File

Winter Olympics ESL Vocabulary & Conversation Starter (Winter Olympics)

Beginner Olympic English – This is an easy conversation model starter activity based on the Winter Olympics theme.

  • Jon: Did you watch the Winter Olympics on TV?
  • Teri: Yes, I did. My favourite event is figure skating. What is your favourite event?
  • Jon: My favourite event is freestyle skiing.

*note: in Canadian English favourite is often spelled with ‘ou’ – favourite. However, it is also correct to spell it ‘favorite’, as spelled in the USA.

Intermediate/Advanced Olympic English – This is a slightly more advanced model of a conversation starter activity based on the Winter Olympics theme.

  • Evan: Hi Zoe, what do you think about the bob-sledding event?
  • Zoe: I think it is exciting, but dangerous. Do you like the biathlon?
  • Evan: It looks very hard, but boring to watch.

*When using this sentence pattern, be sure you choose word pairs that work together well. Opposite words will not work in this pattern usually. For example, something cannot be both, ‘exciting’ and ‘boring’.

**add qualifiers: a qualifier can indicate your opinion on something you say that could be open to challenge by someone else. The last line said boring (to watch). This qualification is used in the second sentence because not everyone would agree that biathlon is boring, in every circumstance. If you are an athlete doing the biathlon maybe it is exciting, but if you are watching it, your opinion is that it is boring.

Qualifiers can also be used as follows: It is exciting, but looks dangerous. (in this case, the speaker appears to like it, however, due to it being dangerous, would not likely want to try, or participate).

How to write a cheque

How to write a cheque

What is a cheque: A cheque is form of “currency”, which is a different word for money. A cheque is a form of money that you can use to buy something very similar to cash.  In Canada the spelling used most commonly is ‘cheque’.  In the United States it is spelled ‘check’.  You can use either spelling in Canada without any problems.


Personal Cheques
:  When you open a chequing account at a bank, you will have an option to receive `personal cheques`.  Personal cheques are a book of cheques that you can use as currency for purchases and payments you wish to make.

A chequing account is the most common type of bank account that most people will have.  Chequing accounts are now called different things sometimes such as “day to day banking account’, ‘daily banking account’, or other similar names.  The reason is that it is becoming rarer to write personal cheques these days. Cheques are now replaced by debit cards for most daily purchasing in Canada and the United States.  When you make a purchase with a debit card, you will be asked to choose your account type and will be given an option between chequing and savings.

Sample cheque

A Sample cheque from Raccoon English.

Paycheque / Paycheck:  This is the pay you receive for doing your job at your workplace. Although it is rare to receive an actual cheque these days we still commonly use the word ‘paycheck’.  Usually, your paycheck is deposited directly into your bank account (most likely a chequing account).

Post dated cheque:  a post dated cheque is a cheque which is dated payable for a future date.  Usually when you enter into a lease to rent an apartment you will be asked to provide post dated cheques.  For example, if you rent an apartment, at the beginning, you will probably be asked to provide 12 ‘post dated cheques’ for the monthly rent, each dated for the first day of each month for the entire year.

Write a cheque / cash a cheque / cheque clearing: We use the expression, “write a cheque”, because that is exactly what we do, we write in the information including the date, people to pay to and the amount of money on a cheque.

When you write a cheque and use it to pay someone for something, you are actually giving that person permission to make a demand on your bank account to pay the amount you write in the cheque. This is called cashing a cheque.

When the payee (person you make the cheque payable to) cashes the cheque, your bank will take money in the amount you indicated on the cheque from your bank account and give it to the person. This is called the cheque clearing process. If you have enough money in your account the cheque will clear, if you don’t have the money, the cheque will “bounce.” This means it will be sent back to the payee from the bank with a message saying that there is not enough money in the account.

Cheque writing role play: You can set up role plays such as in a department store or an open air market, the options are endless. ESL students can barter or negotiate over the price in English and seal the deal with a cheque.

Extra lesson / vocabulary / discussion: What happens if a cheque bounces? Will you charge an NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds) fee? Did the cheque clear yet? Use your imagination and use our props to make it happen. Do you have to give post-dated checks for your rent, or other purchase?

Cheque Tips & Vocabulary:

  • Date: always be sure to date your cheque to ensure you, as the cheque writer, state when it is valid. What could happen if you don’t date the cheque?
  • Payee: You, as the cheque writer are the payor, and the person you give it to is the ‘payee’. This means that the payee can “cash” the cheque, or “deposit” the cheque into his or her bank account. What could happen if you leave the payee blank?
  • Pay to the Order of: a cheque is a type of demand currency note. In other words it upon the demand by the payee, the cheque is treated as money. However, the person or bank cashing the cheque does not have to accept it. There is risk involved to the person taking a cheque, it may “bounce”.
  • Bounce a cheque: for a cheque to bounce means that the bank returned it, after depositing or cashing it and said that the payor has not enough money in his or her account to pay the amount of the cheque.
  • Post dated cheque: this means you date the cheque for later, in the future. Often in Canada and the USA, when people pay rent for their apartment they have to give their landlord post-dated cheques for the rent payments.

Use the below sample cheques to learn how to write a cheque. 

Practice cheque