Speed Dating Lesson

Practicing Language Functions With Role Plays

Two happy students talking to each other in the classroom.
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This lesson plan focuses on conversational practice to encourage English learners to use a wide variety of language functions such as demanding explanations, making complaints, giving warning, etc. The activity used is a variation on the popular practice of speed dating. In this exercise, students "speed date" each other to practice role plays calling for "chunks" or phrases used for each situation. This type of approach to teaching is based on the lexical approach or the chunks of language we tend to use to speak about certain situations.

Speed Dating Lesson Plan

Aim: Practicing a wide variety of language functions

Activity: Speed Dating Role Play

Level: Intermediate to Advanced


  • Go through a variety of situations calling for specific language functions asking questions like:
    • What would you do if your boss refused to give you a raise?
    • How do you react when someone gives you a compliment?
    • If someone asks you to a party, but you don't want to go, what do you say?
  • Take time to review various language functions such as contrasting ideas, disagreeing, being vague, etc.
  • Arrange the tables in your classroom so that students can change seats quickly. Assign half of your students to remain seated, the other half should move over one chair for each round.
  • Give students the role-play sheet. Assign seated students role ​A or ​B and moving students the remaining role.
  • Start the first "speed dating" role play. Let students role play the situation for one minute and then say stop.
  • Ask the moving students to switch to the next partner. It helps if students move in one direction. For example, ask students to rotate in a clockwise manner.
  • For the next round, ask students to switch roles i.e. seated students now take role B and moving students take role A.
  • Continue on through the ten role-plays.
  • As a class, discuss phrases used for the various situations. Take note of the helpful phrases and forms on the board for students to use in the next round.
  • Ask students to create five or ten of their own short role-plays.
  • Use the new situation role-plays to play another round of speed dating role-play.

Example Speed Dating Role Plays

  1. A: Complain to the store manager that your food is cold and inedible.
    B: Respond to the complaint and explain that the dish the customer bought is supposed to be eaten cold, rather than heated.
  2. A: Invite your partner to a party next weekend and insist that he/she attends.
    B: Try to say 'no' nicely. Be vague in making an excuse for not begin able to come.
  3. A: You've been having difficulties finding a job. Ask your partner for help.
    B: Listen patiently and make suggestions based on questions you ask about your partner's skills and experience.
  4. A: State your opinion about the benefits of globalization.
    B: Firmly disagree with your partner, pointing out various problems caused by globalization.
  5. A: Your child comes home after midnight on Tuesday night. Demand an explanation.
    B: Apologize, but explain why it was necessary for you to stay out so late.
  6. A: Explain the difficulties you've been having finding the restaurant "Good Eats".
    B: Explain that "Good Eats" has closed. Find out what type of food your partner likes and make suggestions based on his / her response.
  7. A: Decide on a plan for Saturday with your partner.
    B: Disagree with most of your partner's suggestions and counter with your own suggestions.
  8. A: Ask for information on an important political event. Keep asking questions even if your partner is unsure.
    B: You don't know anything about politics. However, your partner insists on your opinion. Make educated guesses.
  9. A: Your partner has just walked into your electronics store. Make suggestions on what he/she can buy.​
    B: You'd like to buy something at an electronics store.
  10. A: Ask your partner out on a date.
    B: Say 'no' nicely. Try to not hurt his/her feelings.
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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Speed Dating Lesson." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/speed-dating-lesson-1210289. Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 27). Speed Dating Lesson. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/speed-dating-lesson-1210289 Beare, Kenneth. "Speed Dating Lesson." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/speed-dating-lesson-1210289 (accessed June 5, 2023).