How to Give Directions for ESL

Written by drew woods
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Many English as a Second Language (ESL) students have trouble giving directions for a number of different reasons. For example, the students either do not know the necessary grammar and vocabulary or do not know what information to include when giving directions. By using the activities below you will be able to teach ESL students how to effectively give directions. The activities will also help to broaden the students' vocabulary of the English language.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Local street maps
  • Handouts on giving directions

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  1. 1

    Go over basic directions with your students. These include directions by street name or landmark, directions by subway/bus directions, directions by foot or car and directions by car route/highway.

  2. 2

    Give each student a copy of a local street map. These maps can be downloaded and printed from the Internet. Also, provide each student with a handout that covers the instructions on how to give directions.

  3. 3

    Decide on at least 10 places of interest on the maps. Have your students highlight these places for use as reference points in the activity.

  4. 4

    Put students into groups of two. Have each pair pick a location on the map and describe how to get there. One student practices giving directions while the other practices taking directions. Upon reaching the destination, have each student switch the roles of giving and taking directions. Continue with the activity until all locations have been used.

Tips and warnings

  • To help students learn, have them practice writing directions down prior to the activity.
  • Have students use introductions, greetings and small talk to enhance the realism of the activity and help students broaden vocabulary.

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