A Free, Fun EFL and ESL Lesson Plan: Teaching Travel and Transportation Vocabulary to Beginners

teaching thailand students
As an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher in Thailand, one thing I always taught early on to all my beginner level students is travel and transportation vocabulary. Talking about getting on a boat, taking a train or going on a plane journey is imperative if beginners are going to be able to hold an every day conversation.

But, like everything else I did with beginner students, I always made my lesson plans fun.

If you’re an EFL or ESL teacher looking for a free, fun lesson plan to teach travel and transportation vocabulary to beginners, try this one. It worked for me many times over, so will work for you too.

Expected Outcome: – EFL/ESL students will be able to remember at least five new words for types of transportation and five new travel phrases, as well as use them in short sentences.

Materials and Resources: – Whiteboard markers, whiteboard, travel vocabulary handouts, blank sheets of paper, colored pencils

Time Frame: 60-90 minutes

Teaching Procedures:

Step One: Distribute a simple transportation vocabulary handout with pictures of types of transportation and the English vocabulary written next to it, eg: train, plane, bus, car, taxi, tuk-tuk etc. Read through the list and have your students repeat the vocabulary after you at least three times.

Step Two:Distribute a second short handout (I always distribute them separately as kids get distracted if given too much information at once), this one with short phrases pertaining to travel next to pictures of people doing the action eg, “I get on the bus”, “I get in a taxi”, “I take a plane” etc.

Read through the phrases and pick out individual students to act out the action. (I have a points system in my class for everything my students do and at the end of the month, the top three students get a small prize – for a task like acting out an action phrase, I’d give each student 10 points or 20 points if they were exceptional).

Step Three: Once you think the majority of students understand the vocabulary and the phrases, distribute blank sheets of paper and explain to your children they’re going to draw a map of their town, which must include their house, their school, the local park, shopping mall and anything else you choose that might be appropriate to their area. (I have an example map all ready that I’ve drawn myself so they understand how to do it – also, if you have a co-teacher who speaks their language, have her explain it to them).

Step Four: Allow the kids 20 minutes to draw a map and color it as much as they want. When each child has finished, tell them you’re going to read a phrase and they have to draw this on their map.

Give them an example first, eg: “I take the bus to school”, then the kids must draw a bus on their map going in the direction of their school. (I always have the map I’ve drawn myself pinned up on the blackboard, so my students can see what I mean – remember, they’re beginner students so basic English vocabulary is still difficult for them) and write the phrase next to the bus.

Step Five: Read out five or six phrases “I take the bus to school”, “I ride my bike to the mall”, “I take a tuk-tuk to my house” etc. and wait between each phrase while each student draws it on their map and writes the phrase next to their drawing. Stop once you have five or six little cars, buses, or tuk-tuks on each students map.

Step Six: In the last five minutes of class, I choose individual students and say one transportation word eg: “boat”, then they have to give me the ‘boat phrase’ they wrote on their map. Again, saying each correct phrase wins 10 points.

Expected Outcome – Students will learn five new words for transportation and five new phrases for travel. Over the many times I’ve used this lesson plan, it’s worked perfectly because the acts of listening and repeating the words and phrases, then hearing them, drawing them, writing them and repeating them gives each student so may ways to remember them, they rarely ever forget them afterward.

Plus, they have a blast drawing their maps and adding on little tuk-tuks, cars and boats.

Related: Free EFL Lesson Plan – Teach English Numbers by Playing Games