Teachers often make use of maps or real information about the town/district students are studying in when teaching prepositions, giving directions or town vocabulary. Here are a few ideas that might help add a spark to those lessons

Describing a town

  • Ask students to think of 5 things they see in town on their journey from home to school (e.g. letter box) that they don’t know the English names for.
  • In pairs students describe their items to each other (without saying a translation!) Their partner must understand the description well enough that they realize what the object is and can do a quick sketch of it.
  • At the end everyone comes to the board and draws the pictures of their partner’s objects – and the whole class can agree (or be told) the correct names for everything.
  • Then ask everyone to draw a town picture that includes all the items – with name labels.

Virtual walk

You need a large empty space (without desks or obstacles) e.g. a gym, hall or playground.

  • In pairs, one student has a blindfold (e.g. a scarf).
  • The other leads their partner around the space as if they are on a guided tour of their town, starting at the school door.
  • The partner should make it as realistic as possible and give a running commentary e.g. We’re just passing the Post Office now. Be careful – there’s a letter box.
  • The blindfolded student can ask questions and make requests to go to particular places. At the end students will probably want to swap roles and take a new walk .

An interesting discussion can come after it’s all over: How did it feel to be taken around town in this way? Did the blindfolded person feel they were really there?

Special towns

Teach the phrase 'twin town'. Ask students to work in groups and think of an ideal twin town for their home town. Groups can present their proposal to the class and take a vote for best twin town.

A local council is considering your district for a street marathon. Ask pairs to agree the best route.

If the International Olympic Committee considered your town for the next Olympics, what would be the best arguments for your town to win? What would be big problems if you won? Decide where people could do athletics, swim, row etc.

Movie director

  • On a large table and with students’ help, build a bird’s eye map of their town using pencils as streets and small objects such as old matchboxes, pens, pencil sharpeners as buildings and street furniture.
  • When your town scene has been made, ask groups to think of a 3 minute movie that could be filmed using this location with small objects or toys as actors. Their idea should make clever use of at least 10 places or objects in the town scene you have made. Allow 30 minutes for students to prepare a script that has a maximum of 100 spoken words.
  • When the movies are ready ask them to perform the film by moving the actors around the location while reading their script aloud.