Author: GLE Team | Published on 1 September 2023


Role-play is an exciting classroom activity which can enable learners to demonstrate skills, use their imagination and practise language and actions that they may not be able to practise in real life currently. Incorporating role-play into the classroom adds variety, a change of pace and opportunities for a lot of language production and also a lot of fun! It can be an integral part of the class and not a 'one-off' event. If the teacher believes that the activity will work and the necessary support is provided, it can be very successful.

Gender responsive role-play ensures that this useful teaching activity is free from harmful gender stereotypes, norms and language. 

Stage 1: Identify Purpose 

Consider why you think role play will be most suitable for the lesson you want to use it in. What will your learners gain from taking part or observing a role play? What is it you want them to be able to through or after the role-play has been carried out? 

Stage 2: Plan Ahead

Try to think through the language the learners will need and make sure this language has been presented. Learners may need the extra support of having the language on the board. In order to make the role-play more gender responsive, think carefully about the roles you assign and scenarios you ask learners to play. Ensure you are not reproducing any harmful gender stereotypes or biases through these role-plays. If these harmful scenarios do arise through role play, use this as an opportunity to discuss them with your learners. 

Stage 3: Implement and Evaluate

Implement the role play in your lesson and take time to reflect on the successes of the role play from both a language and gender responsive perspective. Ask your learners of all genders to provide feedback on their experiences in the role play. Use the information and reflections to plan your next role play. 


Gender Stereotypes: a generalised view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by, women and men. A gender stereotype is harmful when it limits learners’ capacity to develop their personal abilities, pursue their education opportunities, professional careers and/or make choices about their lives.

Gender Norms: ideas, standards and expectations to which women and men generally conform and how they should act within a range that defines a particular society, culture and community at that point in time. They are often internalised early in life, gender norms can establish a life cycle of gender socialisation and stereotyping.

Gender Bias: Refers to a person receiving different treatment based on the person's real or perceived gender identity.

Want to know more about the GLE Team?

In a groundbreaking initiative, the British Council, under the English Connects programme, undertook a transformative mission to champion gender-inclusive practices in Sub-Saharan Africa with a cohort of 41 dedicated teacher educators and teachers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan. This dynamic group referred to as the GLE Team worked together to design this resource.

Read about our Creating Gender Pedagogy Resources for Teachers project:

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