If you’re looking for some fun ESL directions games and activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans and other teaching goodness, then you’re in the right place! Keep on reading for all the top picks for the ESL classroom.
ESL Directions Activities and Games
Let’s get into the best giving directions ESL activities.
#1: Bumbling Blindfold
A fun way for students to practice giving and getting directions it to do this activity! Send out 1-2 students into the hallway and then quickly set up an obstacle course of sorts in the classroom. Blindfold the students in the hallway and they can come into the classroom. Match up each person with a partner and they have to give directions for how to get from one side of the classroom to the other.
This activity can get really loud and chaotic so I recommend not having more than four students doing it at the same time (2 giving directions and 2 getting directions). This makes it best for smaller classes when you can complete the activity in just a few rounds.
#2: Is that Sentence Correct?
A nice way to challenge students with both form and meaning is to find an ESL directions map and then make some sentences related to it. The sentences could include the following:
- Some correct sentences
- Sentences with errors in form (The bank is across the park.)
- Some with errors in meaning (wrong location on map)
- Sentences with both form and meaning errors
Students have to find incorrect sentences and then make the required changes. Try it out today:
#3: Ball Toss Directions ESL Speaking Activity
A fun way to bring a bit of excitement into the classroom is to play this ball toss activity. Using a marker, write a bunch of directions word on a beach ball. Then, students toss the ball around the class and whoever catches it has to make a sentence using the word under their right thumb.
My two rules are that the sentence must be true and based on something they see around the classroom and also that the same sentence can’t be repeated twice. Check it out:
#4: Directions Songs and Chants
If you teach kids then you’ll certainly want to take advantage of some songs and chants that can be used for teaching about directions. If you’re not musical, not to worry! There are a ton of great options on YouTube so have a look and you’re sure to find something that’ll work for your students.
#5: Dictogloss Giving Directions ESL Activity
If you teach more advanced students, consider trying out this challenging listening activity. Find (or write your own) passage of someone describing how to get somewhere. The more complicated the better!
Then, put students into pairs and read it out at a faster than normal pace. Students can take notes and then work together to try to recreate what they just heard. After that, read it again at a fast pace and students do the same thing.
At the end of the activity, students can compare what they have with the original version. Want to give it a try? Learn more here:
#6: Concentration Giving Directions Game
A fun way for students to get some practice with the basic direction vocabulary words is to play concentration. Make up some matching sets of cards. On one card put the direction (across from, behind, etc.) and then on the other card, put a picture of the word.
Put students into small groups and they have to play a matching memory game. To make it a bit more difficult, once they get a match, they can use the word in a sentence with objects that they see in the classroom. Find out more:
#7: Information Gap Map Activity
I love to use information gap activities in my classes. This is where each person gets half of the required information and then has to work together with a partner to put together the complete set. They can do this by asking and answering questions.
In this case, use the same simple map but omit some buildings in an A and B version. Then, students have to talk to their partner to find out which buildings aren’t labelled on their map. This is a classic activity that can often be found in ESL textbooks for this unit.
#8: Listening Lesson for Giving Directions
A nice way to introduce this topic is to find a conversation between two people where someone is asking for directions and the other person is giving some directions. It’s easy to plan an entire lesson around that! Find out how here:
#9: Dictation Practice for Directions
I know that dictation has kind of fallen out of favour in recent years but it can still be quite a valuable activity. In this case, use an ESL directions map on the PowerPoint. Then, dictate some questions to the students. For example:
- Where is the bank?
- I’m at the school. How can I get to the grocery store?
Students have to write down the questions that they hear and then answer the questions based on the map. Find out more:
#10: Direction Map Memory Challenge
A nice way to test out these new vocabulary words along with memory skills is to show a simple map on the PowerPoint. I like to include one with not only buildings but with a few cars, people, or random kinds of things too (a cat or dog).
Then, I give my students a couple of minutes to memorize as much as they can. After that, I take the picture down and then ask a series of questions about where things are. I also like to throw in a few other kinds of questions like what colour the car is for example. Students have to answer and the winner is the person with the most correct answers! I make a joke about that person would be the ultimate police officer!
#11: Mixed Up Sentences
A nice way to give students some more practice with making correct sentences is to do this activity. It’s ideal for in-class or as a homework assignment. Make some directions sentences but then mix up the order of the words. Check it out:
#12: Reading Lesson for Giving and Getting Directions
A nice way to introduce this topic is through a reading lesson. Find (or write) a conversation between two people that contains the relevant vocab. Then, plan an entire lesson around it. Follow these simple steps:
#13: Error Correction Relay Race
I like to use this game because it takes something old (error correction) and makes it new again. In this case, use an ESL map on the PowerPoint and then make a number of sentences that contain errors in form or meaning. Have a look at this fun relay activity:
#14: Word Association
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they know at least a few directions words. Things like left, right, across from, behind, etc. are common vocabulary words for beginners to learn.
If this is the case, consider using eliciting to get these words from the students and then organize them into a kind of mind map on the board. This can be really useful for helping make new words more memorable because students have already activate their prior knowledge. Check it out:
#15: Prepositions of Place Quiz
Check out this fun game that has much of the same vocabulary:
ESL Direction Lesson Plans
There are a number of giving directions lesson plans to consider using. They can save lots of time if you’re a busy teacher with lots of different classes. Here are some of the best resources online:
Directions ESL Worksheets
If you’re a teacher, then you know how much time you save by using some worksheets that are already made! Here are some of the best ESL directions worksheets and ESL maps to choose from:
Did you like these ESL Directions Activities?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book that you can easily find on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. The key to better English classes for teens or adults is a wide variety of interesting and engaging activities and games and this book will help you do just that.
You can find the book in digital, audio or paperback. Pick up a copy to keep on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the e-version with you on any device to your favourite coffee shop to use for some lesson planning on the go. Finally, consider listening to the audio version on your commute for some inspiration on the go.
Whatever the case, this book is going to be some ESL teaching awesome in your life. Head over to Amazon to find out all the details you need to know:
Directions ESL Games and Activities: Join the Conversation
Do you have a top pick for teaching directions activities? Is it one of the options from this list or do you have another one that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API