Before the ESL Field Trip
Of course before you go figure out how you will move students to and from the destination. Also check the options for food and water. Can you purchase it there or do you need to bring it. Finally it is a good idea to scout out the location first and find some areas where you can group your students together for any teaching you want to do there. Is there a nice shady spot in the park? Is there a small cafe in the grocery store with some tables?
Designing Your Lesson Plan
Every ESL class should have a goal that I like to call the TARGET LANGUAGE. It is the language that you want your students to learn, practice, and digest while doing your activity, in this case an ESL field trip. Try to chose small groups of words, phrases or even grammar points that relate well to the destination of your field trip. Here are some examples below of what I have used in different locations.
The Grocery Store
Vocabulary: Section Names / Types of Packaging
Grammar: Where can I find .. ? / Sentences to Give Directions
Vocabulary: Adjectives for Texture and Feel / Colors / Verbs for Physical Activity
Grammar: Comparison sentences / Present Continuous to describe what is happening now
The Local Fire Station
Vocabulary: Fire Safety Equipment at Home / Fireman’s Tools and Gear
Grammar: Future Simple with Will or Going to.. / Procedural Sentences with Linking Words
Fit the TARGET LANGUAGE onto a single printable page that you can pre-teach a class before the actual ESL field trip day. Have students bring this one page reference of the TARGET LANGUAGE with them on the ESL field trip day. They can fold it up in their pocket and reference it easily. It’s a good idea to add images if you can and some sample sentences.
Next you will want some SPEAKING TASKS for the students to do during the field trip that lets them use the TARGET LANGUAGE while speaking. Activities for the Grocery Store could be moving from section to section asking students to identify what section we are in, “This is the PRODUCE section teacher”. Or to practice packaging have students put 10 different packages in their cart and identify them to you by saying, “A can of coke, a tube of toothpaste, a package of shrimp, etc”. Some ideas for the park would be to collect or take you to things with different textures and make a sentence, “This leaf is very bumpy, this tree trunk is very rough, the short tree’s trunk is rougher than the tall tree’s trunk”. Be creative with the tasks and get students moving around and talking!
Most importantly it is up to you to facilitate the use of TARGET LANGUAGE as much as you can during your field trip, question students, make games, divide them into teams and task them with speaking activities that were thought out to evoke the TARGET LANGUAGE from them.
After the ESL Field Trip
We all know that review is essential for student’s memories and understanding to consolidate the TARGET LANGUAGE. I always make sure to give homework after the field trip in the form of a handout with vocabulary fill-ins, finish the sentence prompts, and even a short paragraph writing assignment that summarizes the day or gets students to recycle the TARGET LANGUAGE in their writing somehow.
Moreover dedicate the next class to a discussion about the ESL field trip (the grocery store for example). Let students summarize in the past tense what we did, ask about their opinions about the sections of the store and the products they saw, discuss how grocery stores are different in their home countries or compare the differences to a grocery store and a farmer’s market. Engage them with questions and discussion that allow them to use the TARGET LANGUAGE again. Then end the class with a quick spelling test of your TARGET LANGUAGE. The point with TARGET LANGUAGE is to pre-teach it, teach it with activities, review it with activities, test them on it, then review it again in a week.
Making a solid lesson plan for an engaging field trip does not have to be difficult for you, nor do you have to spend lots of money visiting over priced tourist attractions. Pick somewhere close to your school and apply this method to make a fun speaking based lesson plan that focuses on relevant TARGET LANGUAGE to that locations.
Print and Teach Field Trip Lessons – Ready to Go!
I have made many of these types of lesson plans for field trips already. You can get them all and save yourself the work right here! All you need to do is take your student’s out and have some fun learning. Here is a list of the field trip lesson plans included in my eBook;
GROCERY STORE / CLOTHING STORE / LOCAL FIRE STATION /HEALTH CLUB / ZIP-LINE COURSE / MAKE A GARDEN / GEOCACHING /WALK THE NEIGHBORHOOD GIVING DIRECTIONS / TOUCH, FEEL & DESCRIBE NATURE AT THE PARK.