On Your Left You Will See…: ESP for Tour Guides

On Your Left You Will See…
ESP for Tour Guides

Martin Hendrikx
by Martin Hendrikx 12,943 views |

When you are teaching English for Specific Purposes, it is important to remember that most of your students will have at least a basic knowledge of English and need to improve their English for specific purposes as the name suggests.

When you are teaching ESP to tour guides it is important to remember that the most important things will be vocabulary lists with specific jargon for the field, useful phrases and sentences, and most importantly you will use the most effective tool for ESP which is role playing.

The main responsibilities of the tour guide are to explain all the safety protocols, and rules as well as the etiquette that must be adhered to during the tour, answering any of the questions that the tourists may have about the tour or the destination, to explain the places of interest that will be visited during the tour and they must be able to retain historical facts, anecdotes, and dates, then be able to discuss this information with the visitors in an entertaining, and simple to understand manner. For these reasons teaching English to tour guides is sometimes tricky.

One of the best methods you can use to ensure that the students learn the English which is appropriate for their tours is to have them write down all the terms, dates, and topics for a specific tour then have them give a mock tour in the classroom. It is important to help them with their English while they give their tours and record it if possible then have them write a script in proper English to practice their tour.

The first and one of the most important things any tour guide will need to do will be to explain all the safety regulations and rules which the tour company has stipulated for the tour as well as the etiquette that they must adhere to. This is easily done because most tour companies will have a scripted set of rules and regulations as well as expected etiquette. You can have your students bring in their manual which is provided by the company and help them to practice it and understand what they mean.

Explaining rules and safety

  1. Please keep your seatbelts fastened at all times.
  2. Please do not walk off the designated paths.
  3. There is no flash photography allowed inside the museum
  4. Please remember to hold on to your garbage until you reach a garbage bin.
  5. These rules are for your own comfort and safety.

Explaining etiquette

  1. It is customary to tip your taxi drivers "X" percent.
  2. In this area of the country, it is customary to hug and give air kisses on the cheeks rather than to shake hands.
  3. If you wish to stop the bus, just wave your hand at the driver.
  4. Please to not remove clothing in the villages until you get to the designated swimming areas, in order to respect the local people.
  5. Please to not use profanity in the churches since it is considered disrespectful.

Tour guides will need to answer questions from tourists and this can be one of the most challenging aspects of the job because many times, the questions may contain words they do not understand, however it is possible to anticipate certain questions. You can do this as a teacher by having them give their mock tour and then asking questions as a tourist. Some of these can include the following general questions which can be applied to almost any tour.

  1. When was the site discovered?
  2. What else is there to do in the surrounding areas?
  3. Where is the nearest bathroom?
  4. How long did the renovation take?
  5. Which restaurants would you recommend for my family and I try out?

It is important for tour guides to always introduce themselves at the beginning of their tours and then also to maintain the dialogue since silence can be uncomfortable during a tour. It is important that the students know as much as possible about the history of the sites, the culture of the local people, as well as interesting places to visit in the area. Since many tour companies will give their guides a script which they should follow for the tour, there are times, in between, where silence will arise. One way you can help your students to deal with this will be to teach them some of the following phrases which can be used to show places and things of interest, especially on guided bus tours, or train tours, or walking tours of the city. The blanks will be filled in with whatever information they have regarding the region, site, or history of the place.

  1. On your right / left you will notice _______.
  2. I would like to point out that _______.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled for _______.
  4. As you may have noticed, there are _______.
  5. As we round this corner up ahead, you will see _______.

You should use role playing in as many of the activities as possible in order to get the students familiar with spontaneous situations.

It is also important that along with role playing and useful phrases, that you teach them vocabulary that is appropriate for the field. One set of sites I find useful for teaching vocabulary to people in the tourism industry are listed below. I particularly like these sites because they are interactive and focus specifically on vocabulary.

  1. http://www.englishformyjob.com/english-tourist-information1.html
  2. http://www.englishformyjob.com/english-tourist-information2.html
  3. http://www.englishformyjob.com/english-tourist-information3.html

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