8. Constructionist Experiential Learner-Enhanced Meeting Role Plays
The significance of simulations and role plays for EAP settings has been noted before. Simulations and role plays exercise a crucial function for linking the academic and professional worlds, or, as Belcher (2009b) has expressed it: “One approach to enhancing authenticity is the use of simulation, or tasks inspired by real-life communicative activities” (p. 9). For this reason, simulations and role plays form stimulating learning scenarios anchored in students’ content disciplines through a careful selection of topics and the provision of relevant background materials. It should be mentioned that simulations and role plays can be classified along a continuum, from authentic workplace interaction with industry locations and participants to pedagogic role plays in the classroom (cf. Tatzl, 2015a). Simulations exhibit varying degrees of task, context and purpose authenticity on this continuum, and depending on the professionalism of their integration into EAP classrooms, they can serve valuable pedagogic objectives. Even though students will not head departments or companies after graduation but rather start working as subordinate employees at entry level, meeting role plays allow for an extension of graduate positions in the classroom. Assigning higher-ranking positions in a company to students for a role play may mean sacrificing task and context authenticity, yet such role reversals are likely to encourage participation and add an element of fun to the discussions. The question whether tendentially authentic simulations of workplace tasks for entry-level professionals or fictional role plays with more room for creativity and role extensions best suit a learning context...
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