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Giving Directions

This lesson teaches students how to give directions in English by using a map to let students practice describe where buildings are located and then give and follow geographical directions to locate specific buildings.

This lesson teaches students how to give directions in English by using a map to let students practice describe where buildings are located and then give and follow geographical directions to locate specific buildings.

direction-1076223_640Objectives

  • To give students practice in describing the location of places.
  • To teach prepositions and prepositional phrases as used to describe location
  • To practice asking and answering questions about locations
  • To give authentic practice in asking for and giving directions in a town or a city

Materials

  • Map of Downtown Imagineville
  • Giving Directions Worksheet
  • A map of your town. Open Street Map (https://www.openstreetmap.org is a great resource to print road maps of a particular town or neighborhood or even region)
  • Extra blank city maps You can use these maps to make your own exercises if you want to target particular vocabulary or give students extra practice.

Warm Up

  1. Start by asking students where you can buy good vegetables. When they give you the name of a store, ask them where it is. Listen to the problems they have giving directions in English.
  2. When students give you imprecise information, ask them to clarify or if they give wrong information, call them out on it. You might say something such as, “Next to the train station? That’s an office building, isn’t it? I can’t buy vegetables at an Italian restaurant.”
  3. Ask for a few more places. Remember to ask for the location and challenge them to be precise and accurate. This is a great chance for authentic communication with your students as you can ask for places that you genuinely want to go to. You’ll get the whole class arguing over the location and then correcting each other’s directions.

When I’m in another country, I often ask my students:

  • Where can I go to meet other expats?
  • Where can I buy macaroni and cheese?
  • Where can I buy frozen vegetables?
  • Where can I buy nice clothes?
  • Where is there a good Italian restaurant?
  • Where can I get a screwdriver? (or whatever tool or spare part I might need to fix something at home)

Locations

  1. Now hand out the Map of Downtown Imagineville. Call on students one at a time to find the locations below, eliciting the street and the corner street as well as what it is next to or across from.

Students can do this as a whole class or in small groups.

……

Giving Directions

Introduce giving directions by asking a few of them how to go from their home to school.

You can view a more comprehensive preview and purchase the entire lesson at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store: Where Is It? Lesson Plan: Practice Giving Directions on a Map. I always want to hear how people use these lessons in their classrooms and how I can improve my lessons, so feel free to leave me a comment here or feedback at my store!

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Design Your Living Room

This lesson teaches or reviews the names of living room furniture by getting students to design their perfect living room. It could easily be adapted to other rooms in the house as well.

This lesson teaches or reviews the names of living room furniture by getting students to design their perfect living room. It could easily be adapted to other rooms in the house as well.

Materials

Warm Up

Either print out the Living Room Furniture Quiz or have students take it online. Make sure they know the vocabulary of living room furniture. Activate vocabulary by asking them what other items they have in their living room.

Let’s Go Shopping

Now hand out the Living Room Floor Plan [PDF] and have students add a door (1 meter wide) and 3 windows (1/2 meter wide each) to the plan anywhere they want. Make sure they understand the scale, that each dotted line is 1 meter. This is important because it puts realistic limits on how they furnish the room. You can’t put a bookcase in front of a window, or the TV in the door.

Once students have done that tell them they have $450 to spend to furnish the living room. They should use the Price List which also tells them how big each piece of furniture is. You may also want to redo the prices in your home currency or make them realistic for where you live. You also might want to add items that are common in your country, or take away items that are not common.

When they are finished, each student can present his living room to the other students and explain his choices.

Alternatively, you could now practice vocabulary and prepositions by having students describe their living room to a partner. The partner should try to draw the living room without looking at the picture. After one partner has described and the other has drawn the room, they should switch.This will give students a chance to practice the names of furniture and also prepositions like, “next to”, “on the right”, “in the middle”, “on the wall.” In fact you may want to give them this language first, using one of the students’ drawing as an example. Another variation, which gives you more control would be to have a few students describe their living room to the entire class and everyone draws it. That allows you to catch mistakes as they happen.

You can also practice comparing and contrasting language by having students compare their living rooms. For example:
“I put the sofa in the corner.”
“Well, I put MY sofa in the middle of the wall”
“My TV is across from the armchair.”
“My TV is next to the armchair.”
Students then report back: “My sofa is in the corner but his sofa is in the middle of the wall.”

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Describing Change

Worksheet to teach verbs that describe changes in numbers, graphs and statistics as well as prepositions. Designed for the IELTS Writing section, Task 1.

This is the activity I always do with my students in IELTS Writing classes. It helps them remember vocabulary related to describing changes in statistics, graphs and charts. Specifically this activity focuses on verbs like to increase or fall, adverbs like steadily or dramatically, and prepositions (fall from 1 million to 3 million).

Buying access to this activity will get you access to every IELTS Writing Task 1 activity and lesson that links from this page: IELTS Task 1 Writing Lesson

Materials

The worksheet is pretty straightforward. I like to let students work on it on their own first and see how many words they know and how well they can deduce the rules. You can also do the verbs activity by drawing the graphs on the board one at a time and having students call out appropriate descriptions, then fill in any vocabulary that they have missed.

Prepositions tend to be a problem because they are idiomatic and usually don’t translate from one language to another so it’s good to focus students’ attention on the prepositions we use to discuss changes in numbers.

I’ve also included some more more graphs for students to practice describing. You can use these for homework or to target problems students are still having in class. They provide examples of peaks, dips, steady growth, dramatic falls and so on.

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Grammar as Tools, Not Rules

In honor of National Grammar Day, and because of some of the thoughts that I’ve been posting on recently, I thought I’d post on how I approach teaching grammar.

First of all, we need to view grammar not as a set of rules that must be memorized, nor as something that stands outside of other aspects of language. Grammar has to be taught in some kind of communicative context. Having students fill out worksheets where they put the verb in past simple doesn’t help them to use the language. And it’s quite boring (although it does have its place in helping students practice in a controlled setting). If students are discussing what they did that day, they are going to need to use past simple and know when to use past continuous. That’s a perfect context to teach them grammar in, integrated with vocabulary, pronunciation and speaking.

The main reason why teaching grammar in a context is important is that it helps students see why grammar is the way it is. And to see grammar as a way to make their meaning clear, not as an abstract system of rules or something that they have to memorize in order to get good grades. I can say, “I played football this morning,” or I can say, “I was playing football this morning.” Both are objectively correct, so a student writing either one on a grammar worksheet, would get a good mark. But we need to teach our students the nuances between both sentences:

“I was playing football this morning,” might imply that I am about to tell you about something that happened during that time period, or something that interrupted the game. Or I might be emphasizing that the football game took up a long period of time. In fact, “I was playing football all morning,” feels more natural than this morning.

If students are taught grammar as rules, this will be intimidating to them. How do I know which one to use? Can you please put up on the board all 6 cases where we have to choose between past simple and continuous and tell us which one to use when?

If students are taught grammar as tools, however, they can see this as very freeing and empowering. They now have new ways to express themselves. They want to say that their homework took hours to do, now they know that can say, “I was doing my homework all night.” If they want to emphasize that they have completed their homework, they can say, “I have done my homework.”

With this view, they can also start to work on understanding grammar and take their reading and listening skills to a new level. There was a wonderful additional exercise in the Straightforward, I believe, Intermediate coursebook, based around a listening dialogue about a meeting. The beginning of the meeting went something like this:

“Right, well. Thank you all for coming in so bright and early. Let’s start off with Dave. What have you got to report?”

While the main focus of the listening was on the topic of the meeting, there was a great additional exercise to have students listen to that beginning and see how much they could deduce from it. The “right, well” tell you something is starting. “Thank you all” means the speaker is addressing more than one person. “Bright and early” means it’s earlier than usual. “What have you got to report?” indicates that this is a meeting (as well as the overall tone and language) and that Dave has prepared something for it. We can also deduce from all of this that the speaker is the boss or at least the chairman of the meeting.

A good understanding of how grammar is used to express meaning can help students deduce a lot of information, and predict the context of what they are reading or listening to.

Finally, looking at grammar as more than rules, makes learning and teaching grammar fun. Far more enjoyable than memorizing and regurgitating verb forms and prepositions.

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