Classroom Activity for Jr. High School or High School ESL Students
ESL Level: Lower-Intermediate to Intermediate
No. of Students: 6-40
Activity Focus: learning about world cities, speaking, research skills
Class Time: four 45-minute classes
Travel Agency Role-play Activity Execution:
I teach at a Japanese junior high school. Interestingly, our school is in Prague, Czech Republic. The kids in my advanced class told me they wanted to learn more about European cities, so I designed this travel agency role-play activity. It's a bit complicated but you don't have to do it my way. Just look at my materials for ideas and then design your own role-play that suits your students.
Step 1: Explain Activity & Form a Travel Agency
I told the students that they were going to become travel agents for a travel agency. I told them that each travel agency has two agents, so they should get in pairs.
Next, I told them that each travel agent was going to design a trip to one city in Europe (you can use the whole world if you prefer).
Then I showed them a COMPLETED version of the above travel template (I filled it out with information about my home city in Canada).
I asked each student to include:
- 3 tourist attractions for their location -and-
- one custom (e.g. "people speak Italian there")
"other" can be used for anything miscellaneous (e.g. "Italy uses the Euro currency.")
Feel free to change the template however you'd like.
Step 2: Research One Destination Each
We went to the school's computer room and the students began their research. I had hoped to finish this in one 45-minute class, but we had a few delays so it ended up taking nearly two classes. Students mainly used Wikipedia (in both Japanese and English).
Step 3: Practice Role-Play Dialogue
Next, I gave the class the below travel agency hand-out.
The expressions I decided to focus on were:
- go on a trip
- famous for
I modeled the conversation with one of the advanced students in front of the class.
Then I had the students practice the conversation (without writing anything) with a partner using their hometown as the destination. I told them that I didn't want them reading the dialogue during the activity, so they should try to memorize the key expressions.
Next, I explained that the boxes below the dialogue (the ones that say "Travel Agency Name") can be used to make notes about the trips they hear about from other travel agencies. Since each agency has two agents, each offering a trip somewhere different, there are two destinations to be filled in per agency.
In my class, there were 14 students. So there are 6 boxes (6 other agencies to visit). You'll need to delete or add boxes, depending on the number of travel agencies you have in your English class.
Step 4: Do the Role-Play Activity
You'll have to have pairs alternate between being customers who are shopping for a trip and travel agents who are selling their travel packages. I didn't involve money at this stage. I just had students get information and say "Thanks for the information. I'll be back later."
It took about one 45-minute class and a half for all of my students to visit all the other travel agencies and hear about the other cities they could visit.
Step 5: Decide & Purchase a Ticket
In this class, I had the students look at the notes they took and decide where they wanted to go. Then I modeled the dialogue (see below) for purchasing a ticket with a student in front of the class.
(this page is in the previous document)
Next, I explained some of the more difficult vocabulary on the two "tickets" below. To make it more authentic, I cut the tickets out and gave them to the students (two tickets per student).
Once they understood what all the fields were for, I had them practice with one ticket. With their partner, I had them go through the dialogue and ask the relevant questions about their partner's destination in order to practice filling in the ticket.
Then, when they understood the process, I had them stand up and go to the actual travel agency they wanted to purchase a ticket from. The travel agent there then used his/her last ticket to sell to the customer.
Step 6: Closing
In the end, I had each student stand up and say something like "I bought a ticket to Vienna because I have never been to Austria and I want to eat sausages." After each student had announced their purchase and a reason, we were finished.
And that's how I did it. It was a good activity; the students learned plenty about European cities and they had the opportunity to speak a lot. I recommend designing something similar for your students.
- Matthew Barton / EnglishCurrent.com