Activities About Travel for ESL Adult Students

Written by jonathan rigden
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Activities About Travel for ESL Adult Students
Forms of transportation are an important part of any lesson series on travel. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

English as a second language (ESL) students are generally understood as immigrants to an English-speaking country, so the subject of travel is readily apparent and poignant to them, perhaps more so than lessons about American history or British pronunciation. Activities about travel are wide-ranging and easy to find once you know what you are looking for.


Regardless of where the ESL class takes place, understanding the vocabulary involved in transportation is important. For beginning students this might involve basic vocabulary lessons in which students acquire words like "taxi" and "plane." For more advanced students you could have them role-play dialogues with taxi drivers or fill out the necessary paperwork to rent a car in an English-speaking country. Take care to explain the transportation of the relevant country according to the students' learning goals. This can help with both speaking and writing skills.


Hotels can be a complicated cultural dance for foreigners, because hotel protocols vary internationally. Find some case studies of individuals confused by the mints left on pillows or about room service barging into their sleeping quarters into the morning, to illustrate cultural differences that students may have with hotel operations in English-speaking countries. Walk them through various scenarios such as ordering room service, requesting a wake-up call, informing the front desk about noisy neighbours, and the cultural expectations associated with them. This is a good way to bring up English speakers' cultural differences with the students.


Many ESL students have encountered tourists in their home country. Talk with the students about what that first impression was like. Talk about what cultural taboos the tourists violated and what misunderstandings might have taken place to cause these incidents. Next, bring their own sightseeing experiences into the discussion. Try to elicit as many stories from the students as possible. This is a useful way to practice both speaking and listening.

Vacation Fliers

Get some authentic materials from local tourist spots and distribute them to your students. These can include brochures from cruise lines, pamphlets from historical sites and suggested vacation packages from travel agents. Have the students read over the materials in small groups, then make up the ideal vacation package that they as a group would like to go on. Have fun with this activity and let the students get creative with their presentations. This activity can improve reading and public speaking skills.

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