Are you looking for some fun activities for giving directions ESL? Then you’re most certainly in the right place. We’re going to give you the rundown on the best directions ESL games and activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans, online practice and basically everything you need to teach this popular unit in style!
Directions ESL Activities and Games
Without further ado, let’s get to the best follow directions games and activities for ESL/EFL.
#1 ESL Giving Directions Activity: Role Plays
Using role plays is a fun way for students to get some practice with ESL giving directions. The way it works is that you can give students the start of a conversation, pretending that there’s an international student at your school. For example:
A. I’m new here, could you please tell me where the _____ is?
B. Oh, it’s ______.
A. Okay, I think I can find it. Is it ______?
Students can fill in the blanks as they wish. Once completed, they can either perform the skit in front of the class, or just for you. Learn more about it here: ESL Role Plays.
#2: Picture Prompt with a Simple Directions Map
A quick introduction to this unit on ESL directions is to show a picture with a simple map on it. Then, you can ask the students for directions. For example, “I’m at the school but want to go to the library. How can I get there?”
Then, students have to give directions for you to follow. You might also consider using this as a review at the end of your class, or even for a test of some kind. It’s a versatile activity that fits well with giving directions ESL.
You can learn more about it here: Picture Prompt ESL Activity.
#3 Giving Directions ESL Game: 20 Questions
I’m sure you’ve played 20 questions before. It’s where someone thinks of a secret person, place or thing and other people have to ask yes/no questions to figure out what it is.
With some adaptation, you can also use this activity for directions. You can think of a secret place around your school and students have to ask questions to find out where it is. The questions should be related to directions and use vocabulary like next to, across from, to the left of, etc. I find that 20 questions is too easy, so I usually limit it to 10.
Do you want to give it a try? Check it out here: ESL 20 Questions Game.
#4: Hot Potato
This is a fun directions games that you can try out with your students. The way it works is that students pass around an object of some kind (a potato from home?) or something like a whiteboard marker. Then, when the timer goes off, the person holding it has to do something.
In this case, you could ask for directions for a place at your school. For example:
- Where’s the bathroom?
- Where can I find the principal?
- Where’s Mr. Kim’s classroom?
Students will have to give directions to this place.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)
#5: ESL Board Games
Board games are one of my favourite things to do in real life and that’s why I like to use a few of them in my classes as well! If you want to make one for the ESL direction unit, here’s what you can do:
- Find an ESL map with lots of different places.
- Put it up on PowerPoint.
- Design a game that asks for directions from either a single starting point, or from various starting points.
- When a student lands on the square, they have to give directions based on what they see on the map.
Do you want to know more about how easy it is to design your own ESL board games? Then you’ll want to check this article out:
#6 Giving Directions ESL Activities: Yes/No Questions
When you think about it, asking for directions involves a lot of yes/no questions. For example,
- Is the bakery around here?
- Is the post office inside the pharmacy?
- Can I see it from the bus stop?
Here are some of my top picks for activities and games to work on these questions: ESL Yes/No Question Activities.
#7: Task Based Learning Activities
There are all kinds of possibilities for task based learning and giving or following directions to find some place. Basically, students have to work together to accomplish a task. In this case, it’d be preparing some directions for someone else, or giving them to a partner to help them find something.
You can learn more about this style of teaching that lends itself to ESL directions quite well here: Task Based Teaching and Learning.
#8: Videos for Learning English
Trust me on this one: There is a video on YouTube or English Central for any and every single ESL grammar point, vocabulary set or topic possible. There are a ton of different ways that you can use them in your classes, including as a warm-up or quick “test” activity at the end of the unit.
Do you want to know more? Then you’ll need to check this out: Using Videos in the ESL Classroom.
#9: Dialogue Substitution
Have you ever noticed that many ESL textbooks introduce this unit by showing a map and then having a dialogue of some kind? Students are supposed to read it with a partner, except that the only problem is that they often do this quite mindlessly.
A nice way to prevent this problem is to remove the directions from the dialogue. Then, students have to look at the map and figure out the correct way to fill in the blanks. This is ideal if students have a little bit of previous knowledge about directions.
Do you want to try this out with your students? You can find out more here: Dialogue Substitution.
#10: Vocabulary Auction
This fun game requires a good amount of prep, but the results can be great! I find that it’s worth it if I’m going to be teaching directions to a few different classes.
The way it works is that students receive a budget and then bid on words. In this case, they’ll be direction related. The goal is for each team to make as many true statements about their school as possible, using full sentences. Later on, they can trade words with other teams to assist them.
Do you want to give it a try? Learn more about it here: Vocabulary Auction ESL Game.
#11: Information Gap Activities
The information gap is where each student has one set of information and they have to work together to make the complete set. You can often find this activity in the unit for teaching directions in the teacher’s resource book or the student’s textbook. If you can’t, it’s easy enough to make your own by blanking out the names of buildings on a simple ESL map. You’ll want to do an A/B version with different things blanked out.
Then, students have to ask each other questions about where places are to fill in the blanks on their own map. Of course, they have to do this by speaking English with each other!
Do you want to find out more about this kind of teaching? Find out more here: Information Gap ESL Activities.
#12: Error Correction Relay Game
#13: Running Dictation
This ESL game is some English teaching gold! It covers all four skills in a fun, engaging way. And, it gets students up and out of their seats moving around the classroom. It’s perfect for the unit on teaching direction as well.
The way is works is that you find (or write) a dialogue with lots of directions in it. Perhaps something asking for information about how to get a certain place. Then, cut them up in strips and place them around the classroom.
Students have to work together to write down all the sentences, and then put them in the correct order to make a conversation. Do you want to try it out? You can get more details here:
#14: More Ideas for Teaching English
#15: Telephone Review Game for ESL
If you want to review giving and getting directions, then consider playing this fun game for kids. The way it works is that students have to pass a sentence down the line from person to person until the end. At that point, they compare what they have with the original.
In this case, you’d want to focus your original sentences on directions vocabulary words to make it into a nice review activity. Find out more about how to play here:
#16: Whiteboard Race
A nice activity for following directions is this whiteboard race. Post some print outs of maps on the whiteboard so that all students can clearly see them. Clearly indicate various starting points (A, B, C).
Then, one student from each team comes up to the board and takes a marker. Tell students the starting point and then give some directions to get to a certain building. I generally speak quite quickly to make it more challenging. The first student to write the correct place gets a point for their team. Keep playing until everyone has had a chance.
#17: Direction Flashcards
Create flashcards with different directions (e.g., left, right, straight, ahead). Hold up a card, and students demonstrate the action. Mix up the order to keep them engaged.
#18: Barrier Game and ESL Directions
Pair up students and give one student a map or picture of a scene. The other student listens as the first student gives directions to recreate the scene on a blank paper without looking.
#19: Simon Says
Play a game of “Simon Says” where you give directions using the phrase “Simon says.” For instance, “Simon says turn left” or “Simon says touch your nose.”
#20: ESL Giving Direction Bingo
Create Bingo cards with pictures of locations (e.g., bank, park, library) and directional words. Call out directions, and students mark the corresponding places on their cards.
#21: Interactive Online Maps
Use online maps like Google Maps or virtual tours to explore various places and give students a chance to practice describing routes and locations.
#22: Scavenger Hunt for ESL Directions
Create a list of items or places students need to find around the classroom or building. They follow clues and directions to complete the hunt.
#23: Direction Pictionary
Students take turns drawing scenes that require directions, while their classmates guess the location or route being depicted.
Giving Directions ESL Worksheets
Are you looking for an ESL directions worksheet? Here are some of our go-to sources for things you can use in class, or for homework to help your students with directions.
Directions ESL Online Practice
If your students want some additional practice with ESL directions, then you’ll want to check out the following free resources:
Lesson Plans for ESL Direction
Are you busy and stressed out? Maybe you’ll want a ready-made lesson that you can just print and go? We’re here to help! Here are two of our favourite giving directions lesson plans that are tried and true.
How do you Tell Directions in English?
Here are some of the most common ways to tell directions in English:
- Go straight
- Turn left/right
- Go past
- Cross the street
- Across from
- Next to
- Behind/in front of
How to Teach Directions?
Here are some steps to follow if you want to teach directions:
- Warm-up (video, short discussion, etc.)
- Introduce key vocabulary
- Pronunciation practice
- Controlled practice
- Freer practice
- Follow-up activity
- (Optional) Homework
ESL Giving Directions FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching directions ESL. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
Why is teaching giving directions important in ESL?
Teaching giving directions helps students navigate real-world situations, improves their listening and speaking skills, and boosts their confidence in communicating with others.
What are some key vocabulary words and phrases for giving directions?
Key phrases include “turn left/right,” “go straight ahead,” “take the first/second road,” “it’s on your left/right,” “across from,” and “next to.”
How can I make giving directions engaging for ESL students?
Use interactive maps, role-playing, and real-life scenarios to make the learning experience practical and enjoyable.
What activities can I use to practice giving directions?
Activities like map exploration, barrier games, scavenger hunts, and direction flashcards are great for practicing giving and following directions.
How do I help students overcome challenges in understanding directions?
Start with simple and clear instructions. Use visual aids, gestures, and repetition to reinforce the concepts.
What’s an effective way to teach directional vocabulary?
Show images or drawings of various locations and demonstrate how to give directions to and from those places.
How can I encourage students to use complete sentences when giving directions?
Model complete sentences during lessons, and provide sentence starters like “To get to [place], you need to…”
How do I help students ask for directions politely?
Teach phrases like “Excuse me, could you tell me how to get to…” and “I’m a bit lost. Can you help me find…”
What’s the importance of practicing real-life contexts for giving directions?
Real-life scenarios help students apply what they’ve learned and build confidence in using directions in practical situations.
How can I assess students’ progress in giving directions?
Assign activities where students give or follow directions. Observe their use of vocabulary and their ability to understand and communicate routes.
What’s the role of cultural awareness in teaching giving directions?
Address cultural differences in landmarks, traffic norms, and ways of giving directions. This promotes effective cross-cultural communication.
How can I integrate technology into teaching giving directions?
Use online maps, virtual tours, and interactive apps to simulate real-life navigation scenarios and provide a dynamic learning experience.
What’s the best way to help students retain what they’ve learned about giving directions?
Encourage real-life practice by having students give and follow directions in their daily routines or during outings.
Did you like these Direction Games and Activities for English Learners?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 133 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Did you like this book? Yes? Thought so! Then the book you’re going to love is this one over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. The key to better English classes is a wide variety of interesting and engaging activities and this book will help you get there in style.
The book is available in both digital and print formats. Consider keeping the print one on the bookshelf in your office and then using it as a handy reference guide when doing lesson planning. Or, download the free Kindle reading app and take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go.
Yes, it really is that easy to have lessons! Check out the book for yourself on Amazon, but only if you want a serious dose of some ESL teaching awesome in your life:
Have your Say about Giving Directions ESL Games, Worksheets and More
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Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API