Teaching ESP (English for Special Purposes) can be a challenge at times because the English you are teaching is very specific to the field of the lesson.
There are always things you can do to make it easier for yourself as the teacher as well as for the student to commence with the English lessons. Today we will talk about some neat tips and tricks to help you teach English to students who are planning to travel.
How to Teach Potential Travelers
Depending on the mode of transportation your students will be using, there are several different sets of phrases and vocabulary they may need. I find that there is one exercise that really helps. Ask your students to come up with some questions and phrases they may need for different situations such as getting a taxi, and figuring out their situations in airports. They can do this in their native language since it is easier for them and they will have the necessary vocabulary. The next step will be to write all the phrases your students have come up with on the board in class and then work with the class to translate them. You should also have a list of possible phrases for the situation you will assign to them and retain it for afterwards as homework or to supplement the phrases they come up with. For a good list of hypothetical phrases for airports check out this site: http://www.teacherjoe.us/TravelAirport.html
Effective Role Play
Role play exercises are also a great way to prepare your students for travelling abroad. From my experience, role playing activities are the most effective way to get students to practice their spoken English as well as to react in appropriate ways to different situations. I found a page which I have used several times in my classes for travelers. It gives a sample role play exercise. It focuses more on getting through customs in English speaking countries as well as an accurate portrayal of the scenarios they may encounter. I really like this page because they provide you with worksheets and all the necessary items for the lesson, including a teacher’s lesson plan. It is very detailed and extremely helpful. http://bogglesworldesl.com/survival_travel_english/airport_english.htm
Another situation your students need to be prepared for is taking a taxi. It is always important to give travel students helpful travel advice, such as making sure that they check to make sure that taxi drivers turn on the meters after they enter the cabs, and if they seem to be “taking the scenic route” (going in circles or taking you on a long roundabout way), they should write down the registration number and call the taxi company later. Another thing would be to tip the taxi drivers 10-15 percent depending on where they are because in many cultures tipping is nonexistent or rare. It is also good to let them know that most taxi drivers are honest and so it is good to relax and talk to the driver about the city or town they are visiting. There are some useful phrases which can help them to get to where they are going in a safe manner. Some of these useful phrases may include:
- I need to go to _____ hotel / restaurant / address.
- Where can I go for good _____ food? (Chinese, Korean, Indian, Greek etc…)
- Where do you suggest I go while I am visiting?
- Are there any good places to go out dancing near _____ (your hotel, or destination)?
Talking to Strangers
Another useful skill for you to teach your students would be how to start up a conversation with a stranger. The best time to do this would be when they are sitting somewhere or standing in line where you will be stuck for a while. It is easy to do by saying something generic such as talking about the weather, or by asking if they are from the area. Many times, people will also start talking to you if you look like a tourist by asking where you are from and if you are on vacation or if you are traveling with people. It is important to teach them how to recognize if someone doesn’t really want to talk as well, by teaching them about one word responses, or moving away or being rude. Usually, you can tell if people want to talk by looking at their facial expressions and by their responses and whether they turn towards you and other such gestures. It is also important to let your students know that these conversations usually only last a few minutes and that they should not feel bad if the conversation dies out pretty quickly because there are innumerable opportunities to converse with people while traveling.
Finding Your Way
One of the most important things people will need to do when traveling is asking for directions. When your students are looking for a particular place and they cannot find it, it is necessary to ask for directions. When they ask for directions, then they need to do the most important part, which is to understand and follow the directions given to them. The examples below will be labeled “T” to refer to the student who will be traveling and “L” will represent the answer of the person giving directions.
- T: Excuse me; do you know where the Post Office is?
L: Yes go down this street for 4 blocks and it should be on the right hand side on the corner of 21 and 46.
- T: Excuse me sir, would you happen to know where the Bus station is?
L: Yeah, just go down two blocks, take a right, then walk two more blocks, and then on your left will be a grocery store. It is right behind the grocery store.
- T: Excuse me; do you know where the Post Office is?
One of the last things you will need to teach your students are the same thing you will need for every English lesson; vocabulary. I have found that it is very hard to narrow down the words needed for traveling because so many of them also relate to different fields, however I have scoured the web and found a couple sites with pretty good lists of vocabulary and exercises for teaching English for travel students.