For many ESL students, the biggest field trip was the journey to a foreign country to study English. Nothing compares to full immersion when it comes to language learning. However, just because your students may have already travelled twelve time zones to get to class does not mean that the classroom alone is enough for their language studies.
Field trips can be invaluable to English as a second language students if they are focused, thought out and planned well. To include these types of field trips in your semester’s plans, read on.
How to Plan a Field Trip with Your Class
Choosing the Field Trip
As valuable as field trips are, you should not include them in your plans for the semester just for the sake of checking one particular activity off your syllabus. Wherever you take your students, you should have a deeper purpose than just getting out of the classroom. Do you want your students to have exposure to culture? Are you looking to improve their conversations skills? Do you need to focus on listening skills? The answers to these questions are important if you want to choose the best location or event for your class.
Once you have thought about your purpose and a potential destination, talk to the administration at your school for regulations regarding field trips. Some schools have restrictions for field trips: whether or not you can transport students, what budget is allotted for field trips, and how far you are allowed to travel, to name a few. Make sure you have all these specifications clear in your mind before proposing a field trip to your administration or giving your students any indication that you will be going on location.
Not only that, before you take fifteen energetic students to a new place, be sure to visit it yourself. This way you can make sure the location fulfills all of your expectations and will meet your students’ language needs. In addition, you will know what the best activities for your students will be and if ther are any attractions you may want to avoid.
Planning the Trip
The logistics in planning a field trip can seem overwhelming, especially if you have not done it before. You can rest easy if you take your tasks one at a time and make sure you think them all through. Here are the items that should be on your to do list.
- Submit the required paperwork to your principal or director. You will want to take care of this as early as possible, especially if you have to share your field trip budget.
- Arrange transportation. Whether you reserve a school bus or need parents to volunteer, the sooner you finalize your travel plans the better.
- Plan out your day. You will want to have a tentative schedule (remember to be flexible) and, depending on the age of your students, you may want to have copies of that schedule available to your students the day of the trip.
- Think about your meals if necessary. For a daylong trip, either have students bring sack lunches or money to purchase lunch (if available). You may also want to have water available to your students, especially if the location cannot accommodate you.
- Make a list of supplies you will need on your field trip. You should definitely bring a camera and perhaps a video camera. Also, think through the day and add to your list any other special equipment you may need like rulers, notebooks, etc. Add name tags to your list, too, and make sure you have enough for both students and chaperones.
- Put together as much information as you can to send home to parents. Be sure to include emergency contact information, the details about the trip and the required fees if applicable. You can also attach a permission slip to this communication, and set a due date for parents to complete them.
- As permission slips come back or from your class list, compile your students’ phone numbers and emergency contacts to bring with you on the trip.
- If your students have classes with multiple teachers, make sure your colleagues know that those students will be on a field trip.
Preparing Your Students
To get the most out of your trip, make sure your students know the goals for their time outside the classroom. If they know your hopes and expectations for the trip, they are more likely to be aware throughout the day. You should also take the opportunity to review any specific vocabulary they may encounter on location. You can give your students some advance knowledge by looking at websites or promotional material from the location you will be visiting. If you took pictures on your preview trip there, you may want to show them as well.
Take a few minutes to explain to your students the expectations you have for them. You should communicate not only the activities you want them to do but also the level of behavior that is appropriate to the location and for your school’s reputation. You should also review what assignments your students have to complete while on the trip and give them the schedule before you leave. Make sure your students understand that this trip should be both fun and educational and that you hope they achieve both.
Get Ready to Go
When the day of adventure finally comes, make sure your students are prepared. Give everyone a nametag and a class buddy. You may also choose to assign particular groups of students to specific chaperones. That way everyone will have some accountability from both peers and parents. Look at your list of equipment to make sure you have everything ready to go, and collect lunches from your students after they have put their names on them. You should also have some extra items along for those who may have forgotten their lunch, just be extremely cautious of food allergies.
When the day of the trip finally comes, you can relax knowing that you have made all the necessary preparations for your students’ safety and education.
Most teachers do not get many opportunities to take their class on location for studies, so have fun and encourage your students to do likewise.