ESL field trips and activity based classes can be a great way to break up a long semester or session. Use them as rewards for the end of the session or as an up-sell class for your private lessons. Whatever the reason students will love it and they will retain so much more of the language when they are engaged in a hands on way. It is so much more interesting!

Plan an Effective and Unforgettable Field Trip

The Typical Destinations:

Most teachers go for the tourist type activities for their field trips, and that works great. You can base the lesson around the venue itself as an attraction and come up with vocabulary and grammar suitable for describing and navigating an interesting tourist attraction in your location.

Sporting Event
Zoo or Aquarium
Famous Attraction (Niagara Falls, Eiffel Tower, ect.)
A local Cultural Festival

The Everyday Life Destinations:

These are much easier to set up and offer students a chance to practice very practical language skills. They also usually cost much less and require a lot less effort to organize. I really love doing these kinds of field trips the best as I have found my student’s English benefits the most from them.

Grocery Store
Local Park for Scavenger Hunt
Touch and Feel Lesson in the Park
Walk the Neighborhood Practicing Directions
Local Fire Station
Make a Garden
Local Restaurant
Health Club
Visit a Farm
Visit a Retirement Home

All of these places offer students a chance to practice some pre-taught vocabulary, phrases and grammar structures while gaining the confidence of using English in real life situations and being successful at it. Also they offer a chance to make TARGET LANGUAGE that is limited to a smaller topic or task. I find it easier to make a lesson plan that teaches the 12 sections of the grocery store rather than teaching a much larger topic like the rules of baseball. I think I would prefer taking my class to the supermarket rather than the baseball game for this very reason. It will be easier to make a very specific set of language goals for my lesson plan and the TARGET LANGUAGE I will use to practice those language goals.


Field Trip: The Grocery Store

Before the ESL Field Trip

Getting Organized

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

The Park
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;



Field Trip: The Grocery Store

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