This is a role-play speaking activity based on Henry VIII for upper-intermediate students and above. This is a topic that reappears in course books and he is a historical character who is well known throughout the world.

Author: 
Jo Adkin and Jeff Fowler

This activity creates a lot of interest both historically and on a more personal level. It also involves research on the internet.

Preparation

You will need the following:

  • A picture of Henry VIII
  • Internet access

Procedure

  • Use a picture to elicit Henry VIII. In small groups students brainstorm what they know about him. Feedback to open class.
  • Elicit/ teach the names of the wives and what happened to them. It doesn't matter if the students don't know about them already.
  1. Catherine of Aragon - divorced
  2. Anne Boleyn - beheaded
  3. Jane Seymour - died
  4. Anne of Cleves - divorced
  5. Katherine Howard - beheaded
  6. Catherine Parr - survived
  • Assign a different wife to each student and also assign a student to Henry VIII.
  • Students use the internet either in class or for homework to research their wife (or Henry).
  • Tell the students that they will be telling their character's story to the class but they can only have a list of ten keywords to help them remember their story. They should choose the ten keywords themselves.
  • The same lesson or the next lesson students sit in groups comprised of a Henry and six wives. Tell the students that they ARE the character and ask them to tell their story in first person.
  • Each wife takes turns to tell their story from their perspective using their list of ten words to help them. Before starting the activity encourage students to ask Henry (or the wives) to justify their actions.
  • Feedback open class. Ask students if they found out anything surprising.
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