Resources

ESL speaking activities

ESL lesson plans

Business English

ESL quiz center

Practice English

Advertisements

Taxi court role cards - a roleplay for ESL or EFL students

Judge:

You are a judge in taxi court. A customer will complain about a driver, and the driver will be there to defend himself. You must decide if the taxi driver should be punished. If punishment is necessary, decide what is appropriate.

Passenger:

You are complaining about a taxi driver because he took you to the wrong destination. You live on Mace Street in The Bronx, but he took you to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn. The driver wasted your time so you don't want to pay. Also, it was a bit dangerous – it was late at night and you and your SO ('SO' stands for 'Significant Other' - it could refer to a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, etc.) had been drinking. Cadman Plaza at night is not a very safe area but by the time you realized where you were the cabbie was already gone. You eventually walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and found another cab but it was very inconvenient and your SO is pissed at you so you are pissed at the driver.

Cabbie:

You do not think you should be in taxi court. Saturday night, you picked up a drunk man and his girlfriend. He was so drunk that you couldn't understand his directions. He said what sounded like ‘Cadman Plaza.’ You repeated "Cadman Plaza?" The customer was already kissing his girlfriend and didn't answer. You didn’t want to go to a bad area but they told you that’s where they wanted to go.

So you took them to Cadman Plaza, like you thought you heard them say. When you arrived, they got out of the cab and acted like everything was fine, like they were exactly where they wanted to be.

Teacher's notes

I used to use this role card for the passenger but students were surprised when they were accused of drinking. This was the previous role card which some of you might like better - maybe the less students know the more they need to negotiate for meaning? For now I'm trying it with the more detailed card above but here is the less detailed one in case you like it better:

You are complaining about a taxi driver because he took you to the wrong destination. You live on Mace Street in The Bronx, but he took you to Cadman plaza in Brooklyn. The driver wasted your time so you don't want to pay.

Teacher's notes:

1. I always use this one after at least 8 weeks of class due to the "naughty" subject matter. I've done this with Korean college students (4 times), government employees (1 time), and with mixed classes of Korean college students and businesspeople (2 times). It has always been a big hit.

2. Set the scene. I use the Culture Watch video (chapter 3). Go over some New York City geography (The Bronx and Brooklyn are boroughs in NYC) and model the pronunciation of Cadman Plaza and all the other names. You can also adapt this activity so that it is based on another city.

3. I break the class into groups of three or four. If there is a group of 4, tell two students they are both passengers. There will be some snickering when the taxi driver accuses them of kissing, but I have never had a problem. In fact, the groups of 4 often seem to be having more fun. The passengers could be two men, two women, a man and a woman, whatever. It has always been a lot of fun.

4. This is an opportunity for meaningful use of the past continuous. Watch out for "She was busy to kiss her boyfriend" and similar mistakes. Since you can have groups of three and four, there is no need for you to take on one of the roles. In fact students might get uncomfortbale arguing with the teacher. Instead, monitor the language that emerges. After 5-8 minutes get the judge to make a decision. At the end of the activity I always provide some error correction on the board.

5. If the activity is going well, let the students have more than one go at it. Have all the taxi drivers stand up and rotate clockwise, have each student pass his role card clockwise, or use a combination of the two.