Posted in Elementary School, Teaching Techniques

Teacher in Role

Hello, everyone! This is Chris, the other half of the Dinosaur Sensei blog. Today I want to talk to about one of my specialties and favorite teaching techniques: teacher in role.

My teacher training and license is specifically in theatre and voice/speech, and this has really come in handy with teaching EFL. My first experience doing this was during a social studies lesson for 5th graders back in America:

It was a unit on the American declaration of independence. I did an “imaginary field trip” back to the colonies. All of the children closed their eyes while we took a bus through time. I had them bring their textbooks just in case.


When they opened their eyes, I was wearing period attire that I borrowed from the costume shop at my university, UW Milwaukee. I explained to them that I was a blacksmith and I would show them around Massachusetts. I talked to them about growing tensions and gave them a chance to ask questions about my life and my city. They all played along. They suspended their disbelief.


Here in Japan, one of my favorite “teacher in role” lessons is the photo above. I taught a small group of elementary school students every week, and the topic of the month was zoo animals.

I showed up to class wearing my safari hat, name badge, and chimp puppet. I told them that my name was Mike, and that their regular teacher asked me to come as a special visitor. We introduced each other (hello, my name is, what’s your name, where are you from, etc).

After that, we did many different activities. We used small plastic animals instead of flash cards. By the end, all of them remembered the names of the animals and could ask each other which ones they liked. They also used many adjectives to describe them. For example, “the elephant is big” and “the lion is strong.”


When I teach foods, I wear a chef hat made of paper and do a restaurant roleplay. When I teach adults, I have them act out the dialogs with chairs and desks as the location of the roleplay, such as a department store or a taxi cab.

It’s fun, and it’s memorable, but more importantly this technique is an easy way to appeal to different learning preferences.

What do you think? Can you think of any lessons you teach that can benefit from you being “in role”? Thank you for reading!



Hello! I am a native English teacher in Kyushu, Japan. I have lived here with my wife since 2012. My education background is in theatre and voice & speech, and I have a K-12 license in theatre education. I enjoy collecting pottery, making models, and photography.

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