Stop Right There!: ESP for Police Officers

Stop Right There!
ESP for Police Officers

Martin Hendrikx
by Martin Hendrikx 38,404 views

Teaching English for Specific purposes can sometimes be a difficult task, however it does not always need to be.

There are some useful tips which teachers can use in order to make it easier on themselves. When teaching ESP it is always important to remember that your students will usually have a basic grasp of the English language and they simply need to learn specific English that relates to their fields. Police officers are the hands of the law, and their duty is to serve and protect the people. As police officers, in English speaking countries or elsewhere, you will come across people who only speak English, typically tourists or retirees. Sometimes, getting information is the key and will help to solve a crime more quickly and your students may not always have time to wait for an interpreter. Today we will talk about some phrases and roleplaying activities you can use to help your students become more fluent. I will also give you some excellent vocabulary resources for teaching English to police officers.

How to Teach Police Officers: Phrases and Roleplaying Activities

  1. 1

    Pulling People Over

    One of the most common things that police officers will do when on car patrol or speed patrols will be to pull people over for various traffic offences. You can work through some roleplaying exercises with them where you pretend to be the driver who was pulled over and have them approach the car correctly. They will normally have training that teaches them the proper etiquette for pulling someone over and you can have them bring in the training manual given to them and work on the phrases given in the book. There are some phrases that will come in handy such as the ones listed below.

    1. Have you been drinking tonight?
    2. Do you know why I pulled you over?
    3. Is this a rental car?
    4. Do you know the speed limit in this part of town?
    5. You are driving down a one way street.
    6. You ran a red light.
    7. Why are you not wearing your seatbelt?
    8. I am going to have to give you a ticket, which you can pay at the police station or city hall.
  2. 2

    Interrogation and Solving Crimes

    Another excellent roleplaying exercise which you can use to involve the students and get them to practice their English and deductive skills, will be to solve a mock crime. For a great sample, check out

    You can assign roles to different people, then have a team of your police students solve the crime. The roles of witnesses will be assigned to some students and you can have the police team question the witnesses and figure out “who done it.” Some questions you can encourage them to ask are listed below along with sample answers. You should also encourage them to ask any other questions they may feel like they need to ask to solve the crime.

    1. Did you see what they were wearing?
      a. Yes, the 3 of them had on black ski masks, brown pants, and white t-shirts.
    2. Did they have any weapons?
      a. Yes, they all had big machine guns and one of them had a knife.
    3. What kind of car did they escape in?
      a. They were driving a black pickup but I do not know what kind; and I saw the first couple numbers of the license plate. They were 34f5.
    4. Did you see any distinguishing marks?
      a. Yes. One man was missing his thumb on his right hand, the second man had some scars on his arms, and the third guy had a huge tattoo of a dragoon on his whole right arm.
    5. Do you know if their weapons were loaded?
      a. They definitely were because they shot their guns a couple times.
  3. 3

    Helping Tourists

    Police officers are also very commonly regarded as people who are trustworthy to talk to and reliable when it comes to getting information from them. For this reason, tourists will often ask police officers for directions and for information about other things and problems they may have encountered. It is important that you let your students know about this and have them prepare for it by doing some simple roleplaying exercises with answering questions that tourists may ask. It is also important that they are fluent when it comes to giving directions to local hotels, landmarks, embassies, etc... Some questions they may encounter are:

    1. I am lost. Do you know how I can get to the Grand Plaza shopping mall?
    2. Do you know where I can find the British embassy or consulate?
    3. Who can we trust to change money with?
    4. I lost my wallet, what should I do?
    5. A thief just stole my purse, please help me.
  4. 4

    Getting ID’s

    Police officers will often need to ask for some form of identification so it is important that you teach them about the different types of identification card they may encounter, especially if they work somewhere with many tourists since every country has their own forms of identification. In some countries, people will carry a social security card, or a driver’s license, while in others people are required to use a national ID card, and in other countries, people will need to carry their voter’s registration cards. Some of the useful questions that you should teach your students include the following:

    1. May I see your passport please?
    2. Can I have your driver’s license and car registration? (if pulling someone over)
    3. Are you here on holiday? How long have you been here?
    4. Do you have another form of identification?
    5. Can I see some form of photo identification?
  5. 5


    It is very important to remember that when you are teaching ESP that there will always be vocabulary lists that you will need to assign to your students. For some excellent vocabulary lists for police officers please refer to This is a very comprehensive resource with 463 different terms that are applicable to the law enforcement and police field. It does not however, come along with definitions. It is a great resource to assign homework from to encourage the students to personalize and internalize the information.

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