A fun way to teach vocabulary in travel English classes

(Para português, clique aqui)

Trying to come up with a fun way to introduce new vocabulary in Travel English courses? Here's what you can do to select and present new words to students. I will talk about what to do and briefly describe what I did in my class:

1. Do a quick internet search on the place where your student is planning to go 

You should look up places, tourist attractions, food, drinks and make a vocabulary list... I love using tripadvisor for that. What is really wonderful about the internet is that you don't actually need to have been to or even know much about the place where your student is going; a quick search will turn a lot of interesting results provided by other people.

My class: One of my students, for instance, is going to Southest Asia. Here's what her personalized class page looks like:

Here's how you can create pages like that

I prepared a class I called "Fun things to do". I have never been to Southeast Asia and know very little about it, but here's the vocabulary list I came up with:

- shrine
- full moon party
- tourist trap
- off the beaten track
- coast
- beach town
- snorkeling
- palace
- street food
- bonfire

2. Find photos of these things on the internet.

You may print them or add each one to a different slide on a powerpoint or eboard presentation. Don't let your student see the words or the pictures. These will be used for a dictation which will aim at preparing students to listen for these words in conversations. After all, when while on holiday we hear names of places, foods, attractions and events before we actually see them and without actually being in front of them. A dictation will prepare your student to identify these words when they hear them. And since you are picking words that appear on top searches, it is very likely they WILL hear people talk about it. 

My class: I compiled the terms on a google doc and had them ready to use on a presentation.

3. Dictation time, yay!

Dictate the words/phrases and have your students write them down on a piece of paper. If it's a phrase you might want to show them how many words you are pronouncing. It's completely ok and acceptable they mispell words or have no clue what you are saying.

My class: I had her number a piece of paper and dictated words. For the short phrases I let her know the number of words and also showed it with my fingers. 

4.  Provide clarification at feedback.

Have your student repeat word by word.

Pause after each repetition to do three things: show the corresponding picture, the correct spelling/pronunciation and have them ask a question related to that thing/place/event.

At this point your student should be confident about having understood some of the words, and completely lost with others. This is a great opportunity for you to work on pronunciation, spelling and meaning, as they will have probably spelled the words the way it sounded to them (which means closer to how they sound in their first language), so they might realize they heard it all wrong. Great thing they have you, right?

My class: I had my student repeat each one of the words/chunks to me the way the sounded to her, and when she did that I showed her the corresponding picture and provided the correct spelling. Here's a funny thing: with the word palace she actually heard me say tellis, which means we both needed a minute to realize what the heck that was. 

The procedure was: first she said the word. Then I showed the picture and wrote the correct spelling. And finally I asked her to think of a couple of questions she would ask about that thing/place/event, so we moved on to revising question formation in English. She is a false beginner so it didn't take her long to come up with great ideas of her own, but you may also add the words and have them reorder the terms to create questions. You may also talk about likes and dislikes, teach verbs they can use in these places, show webpages and tours...

5. Homework:

Encourage your student to look up things to do too! You can have them read about attractions, check out things they'd like to do or food they'd like to try. 

My class: For homework I asked my student, who's A2+, to choose a couple of interesting tours she would like to do on trip advisor and prepare questions she'd like to ask for next class. Additionally, I added all pictures to a google document so she can try to remember the names and write them down again (check it out here)

I personally like to share all my course material on personalized pages on google classroom:

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I hope your students have a very good time!