Introducing Travel-Talk in an ELT classroom

“Winter is coming.”- Lord Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones)

This might be a way of warning for the Northners to protect their families and households during the long,harsh and cold winters in the north of King’s Landing. But for the young students, this is a welcome sign of the beginning of holidays. And in holidays, they would make plans to go visit new places and experience interesting things. These days,  nearly everybody travels to other parts of the state, country/continents during holidays. Whether it is a religious pilgrimage, family gathering or a tourists package trip, it hardly matters to children. They are very excited to see new things, meet new people, learn about new places, definitely eat some tasty new dishes and click some smart selfies. 

The topic of travelling is very interesting for students and they want to share their experiences without much effort in a classroom. Sometimes, they may brag about some things which they haven’t actually seed, done or tasted. Sometimes they may also talk about experiences of others as if they were their own. But, as a language teacher/ trainer, do not be too intimidated with this behaviour. As far as they talk and it makes sense, this is a good idea.
A word of caution for teachers/ trainers working in government schools in India. The classes will have a heterogenous composition of students. This means that the students’ social and financial backgrounds will differ. Not all would have travelled to many places and not all of them would have used affluent means of transport. But that does not mean they would not have travelled. Encourage them to talk about any travel that they would have done. Say, for example: a school picnic, a visit to the city Park, Museum or any Fete/Fest in their city. 

Remember the keyword is : Happy experience= Happy language Acquisition time.

 A linguistic competency will be well acquired by a second-language learner only when it is taught in an impromptu way. This means, the learner will learn certain words, structures and rules of usage unknowingly when the stress is not on the rules but on their usage and meaning. And when this usage and meaning is related to some happy and pleasant memories. Remember the taxi-drivers at any airport and the waiters in a Chinese restaurant in an Indian city? They may not know the spellings of the words they utter, but they know how to say HELLO in many languages, just as the waiters who know the names of all the dishes  such as dim sum, sushi which are otherwise unknown to them.  

Here’s a short plan for a lesson to practice talking in English about travelling. This lesson is designed for Second Language students of secondary classes. You can further modify it to suit your students’ age-group. 
Lesson Plan: What are your plans for summer/winter vacation?

Topic: Talking about Travelling

Activity 1: Mis-Pronounced Words: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes
hotel,                     restaurant,                  café,                         fort,
square,                 street,                            roundabout,            caves,
journey,                vacations,                     holiday,                   museum,
temple,                  church,                         mosque,                   cemetery

Activity 2: Vocabulary: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes

The teacher will write the following words/phrases on the blackboard and will say the words aloud. The students will repeat after the teacher. S/he will explain the meaning and their usage in context when planning a summer vacation. S/he can make judicious use of mother tongue if students fail to comprehend the meaning of words.
·       1.  tourist (by definition): a person who is visiting a place for fun.
·   2.  tourist destinations (by definition/ verbal context): places which are famous among tourists as favourite spots. Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier, a French man. So, we see it is a famous tourist destination for many European travellers.
·       3.   Tube: (by definition/ Illustration): the underground railway system in London.
·    4.  reservation (in hotels/restaurants): (by definition/ verbal context): to ask for a table/ room to be free for somebody’s use in future. Meera’s friends wanted to surprise her and give her a party on her Birthday. They got a reservation for ten people in Gopal Sweets for the evening.
·    5. menu: (by definition/ illustration): a list of food that is kept at hotels for customers to read and choose their meal.
Activity 3: Role Play 1: Teacher Directed: 10-15 Minutes:

The teacher will ask the students when their vacations start and whether they make any plans for spending them. S/he will divide the students in pairs and ask them to enact the following dialogue with their partners.
Learner 1: Hello_____________! Summer is coming!
Learner 2: Yes, ______________!  It’s fantastic. I want to start holidays.
Learner 1: Me too. What are you going to do this summer?
Learner 2: I’m going to visit Amritsar. It’s a very big city in Punjab.
Learner 1: Wow! I stayed there for a week with a Punjabi family. It was a great time. I visited a lot of places in and around the city.
Learner 2: Tell me something about the trip. Is it a long journey to get there?
Learner 1: Well, we took about five hours from Chandigarh.
Learner 2: Oh! That’s nothing compared to going to my hometown in the hills.
Learner 1: Yes, of course. Journey through the hills is very long.
Learner 1: Yes. That’s why I like to stay here at home playing with my friends.
Learner 2: I like to travel in Punjab. We have many places to visit too and food is excellent here.
Learner 1: Talking about food reminds me I am hungry.
Learner 2: Let’s go and eat our lunch.
Activity 4: Feedback: Teacher Directed: 5 Minutes

Ask a few learners questions about their home towns and/ or places they like to visit. Review any common pronunciation problems the learners had.

Activity 5: Classroom Language: Group Work: Teacher Directed: 10 Minutes: 

The teacher will ask the students to imagine various places where they can visit in their summer vacations, say, for example: New Delhi, Jaipur, Chennai, Bangalore, Nainital, Kolkata, Shimla, Dharamshala and so on. The teacher will provide the following structures of questions to the students and assist them to plan their holiday trips.

What do we visit in the morning?
How/ Where can we travel in the afternoon?
How would we travel in the morning?
Where can we have dinner?  What can we eat?
Where can we have lunch? What can we eat?
What can we do in the evening?
What can we see in the afternoon?
Where do we stay during the trip?
Activity 6: Variation: Role Play: 5 Minutes

The teacher can now prepare a different conversation for role play where the students represent various tourist destinations in the world. Divide the learners into pairs and tell them to take turns in knowing each other with the help of the conversation. The teacher can give them various combinations of nations and cities.
Andrew:  Hello Ann! Summer is coming!
Ann: Yes, it’s fantastic. I want to start holidays.
Andrew:  Me too. What are you going to do this summer?
Ann: I’m going to go to visit New York. It’s a very huge city in USA.

I visited a lot of places near the city.

Andrew:  Wow!! I stayed there for a week with an American family. It was a great time.
Ann: That sounds interesting. Tell me something more about the trip. Was it a long journey?
Andrew: Well, We took nearly a day from Mumbai.
Ann:  Oh! That’s nothing compared to go to Australia.
Andrew:  Yes, of course. Australia is one of the farthest countries.
Ann: Yes, I know. I would like to visit Australia one day in the future.
Andrew: Yes, me too. But I like very much to stay here at home playing with my friends.
Ann: I like our country better. We have many places to visit too and food is excellent here.
Andrew: Oh yes, my mom’s dosa is the best.
Activity 7: Home Assignment: 

This activity can be done individually/ in groups. The teacher will divide the class in groups of five students each. S/he will write the following on the board and assist them to plan their holiday in say for example: London. S/he can discuss with the groups- various combinations of places they plan to visit, how and what do they intend to do at these places.


London Eye                                        By tube                                       At a fast food restaurant
London Dungeon                                By taxi                                        A picnic in the park
Madame Tussaud’s                             By bus / Double Decker bus      At a cafe’
Natural History Museum                    On foot                                        In a restaurant
Science Museum
Kensington Gardens                                                               
Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park  
Buckingham Palace
Tower Bridge   
Piccadilly Circus
Notting Hill, St. James’s Park  


Go to the theatre
Go to the cinema
Go to a pub
Walk around London
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