If you’re looking for some fresh, new ideas for teaching places, including adjectives to describe cities, buildings, continents and oceans, or neighbourhoods, then you’re in the right place. We have the top ESL place games and activities, along with vocabulary lists, lesson plans, worksheets and more for all things places ESL.
Teaching Places Games and Activities
Let’s get into the best places games and activities to consider using in your TEFL classes. Here are the best options to try out today for teaching places around town to English learners.
#1: Presentation Project about Places
If all my students are from different neighbourhoods or hometowns, one of my favourite things to do is a presentation project about where they live. I’ve always learned so much about places that I wasn’t familiar with and of course, everyone is an expert about the place they live and have all sorts of insider knowledge.
Here are some of the top ideas for how to get started with this:
ESL Presentation Project Ideas.
#2: Places ESL Board Game
In real life, I love to play board games so it’s natural that I’d use them in my English classes as well. It’s easy to design board games for just about any topic, including places, or describing places using adjectives. Fill the board with questions such as:
- Describe your neighborhood using 3 adjectives
- What’s your school like?
- What’s your ideal place to live? Why?
Find out all the details about making your own games here:
Board Games for English Learners.
#3: Postcards ESL Writing Activity
#4: Running Dictation and Teaching Places
If you’re teaching places, then you may want to consider using running dictation. It’s kind of the ultimate 4-skills ESL activity and the students love it.
In this case, you’ll want to find a conversation that has lots of adjectives to describe a place or whatever your target vocabulary is. Then, students have to work together to dictate the conversation and then put it into the correct order. Check it out for yourself here:
#5: ESL Survey for Places
Just ask my students and they’ll tell you that I love to use surveys in my classes. They’re engaging and student-centred and they also get sleepy students out of their seats and moving around the classroom.
There are lots of possible questions for places or describing places that you could include in yours. Here are just a few of the yes/no questions you could use:
- Do you live in a busy city?
- Are you happy with where you live?
- Do you dislike your neighbourhood?
- Do you want to move to another city when you get older?
Find out more about them here: ESL Surveys.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 122 Pages - 02/23/2020 (Publication Date)
#6: Telephone ESL Speaking Game
If you teach kids, a fun game to consider is Telephone. I’m sure you played it yourself as a kid. The way it works is that students have to pass a secret sentence down the line and then at the end, compare it with the original. The results? Usually hilarious.
In this case, you’d want to include lots of your target vocabulary, namely adjectives for places. See how to play this game here:
Telephone Game for English Learners.
#7: Teaching Places ESL Speaking Lesson Plan
Maybe you’re kind of like I used to be and feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought of planning an entire lesson from scratch? I have some good news for you. It’s actually not super difficult if you use a lesson plan template with step by step sequences to follow.
When teaching about places, or adjectives to describe a city or town, it’s easy to create an entire lesson around this. Find out how:
ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template.
#8: Word Association
#9: Would you Rather
This is a quick, fun warm-up activity that it perfect for talking about places. Here are just a few of the questions you could talk about with your students.
Would you rather…
- live in the city or country
- go on vacation to a touristy place or somewhere very secluded
- live in a crowded apartment building in the middle of the city or a house in the suburbs
Find out more about this here: Would you Rather ESL Activity.
#10: ESL Adjective Activities
Describing buildings, cities or other things is ALL about adjectives. The good news is that teaching these vocabulary words can be quite interesting and fun if you use some of these ideas:
#11: Charades for Place Adjectives
A fun way to review adjectives that describe places is to play charades. Words like boring, exciting, tall, dull, etc. can be easily acted out or shown with facial expressions.
#12: 120-90-60 Speaking Activity
This can easily be used to get students to talk about one of their favourite places. Have a look:
#13: Dialogue Substitution
A common way the unit on places, cities, houses, or buildings is introduced is through a dialogue. But, you may also have noticed that most students just kind of blow through it without really paying attention to what they’re reading. Of course, it’s not their fault. It’s just that they really have a reason to read it carefully.
A better way is to remove some of the key words. In this case, it’s a reading activity that also focuses on meaning in a big way. You can see all the details here:
Dialogue Substitution Activity.
#14: Chain Spelling for Place Adjectives
If your lesson is heavy on adjectives for describing places, then a quick spelling review activity is chain spelling. All the students have to stand up. Then, you say a target vocabulary word and students have to take turns spelling out the word, letter by letter. If a student makes a mistake, they sit down and you can continue to play until the last person is left standing.
Here’s how to do it with your students:
#15: Likes and Dislikes ESL Activities
If you teach adults, an interesting topic of discussion is about places where your students may want to live and things they like or dislike related to that. I always find that people have strong opinions about this kind of thing and often find that there are equal numbers of people who want to live in the countryside as want to live in a busy, crowded city.
Here are some of the activity ideas:
#16: Picture Prompt
A nice way to introduce a unit on describing places, including cities or buildings is to show some pictures to your students. Then, they have to use some words that they know to describe it. Of course, you can guide the conversation to get students to use some of your target vocabulary for that lesson.
#17: Just a Minute Speaking Activity
Another option for teaching places is to get students to talk about their hometown or area around their home for one entire minute without stopping. There are also additional options to turn this into a listening and conversation activity instead of just a speaking one. Find out all the details here:
Just a Minute ESL Speaking Activity.
#18: Dictation Practice
#19: Conversation Starters for Teaching Places
If you tell students to talk with a partner about where they live, or their house for example, you may be met with a whole lot of silence. This is particularly true in places where students might be a bit shy.
The better way is to give students a list of questions to get them started. Of course, encourage a free-flowing conversation and allow freedom to go wherever the conversation takes them. But, the questions are there as a kind of fall-back in case they get stuck.
Here are some tips for doing this: ESL Conversation Starters.
This is a challenging listening activity that’s heavy on the listening skills and lends itself well to any unit, including when teaching places.
The way it works is that you have to find a reading passage that’s heavy on the target grammar or vocabulary. Then, read it at a faster pace than normal for the level of the students. Students take notes and in pairs, have to work together to recreate what they just heard. Read it again and students add more to it. Finally, they compare what they have to the original.
Learn more here: ESL Dictogloss Activity.
#21: ESL Countries and Nationalities Games and Activities
A natural fit for places is talking about countries and nationalities. Here are some of the top recommendations for this topic:
#22: What Place Am I?
This is a simple party game that you may have played before. Each person gets a secret word (or famous person) taped to their back and they have to ask the other people yes/no questions to find out what it is.
In this case, the words should be places in a city such as a school, bank, park, department store, restaurant, swimming pool, etc. Find out how it works here:
#23: A-Z Alphabet Game
Try out this simple warmer game if your students are already familiar with a number of places:
#24: ESL Places Around Town Reading Lesson
It’s very easy to plan a whole lesson around a reading passage about a city, town, neighbourhood or place. It can be used to focus on just about any grammar or vocabulary that you want.
Then, consider doing some post-reading activities to get the most value out of the lesson. Here are some of the top ideas for doing that:
#25: Describing Games and Activities
Descriptive adjectives and places around town or in the community are often combined together in ESL/EFL textbooks and for good reason—they’re a natural fit! Another option is to design your own lesson combining these two things. If you need a few ideas for doing this, have a look here:
ESL Describing Places Games and Activities.
#26: Places Around Town Guessing Game
Try out this simple guessing game with your students. it makes a really nice review activity:
List of Adjectives to Describe a Place
Here are some of the best adjectives to use to describe places:
List of Words to Describe a City
There are lots of interesting words that can be used to describe a city besides big, small, crowded, etc. Here are some that you might consider teaching your English learners:
Words to Describe Buildings
There are lots of interesting words besides big, tall, etc. to describe buildings. Here are some of the better ones to teach your students:
Teaching Places: ESL Lesson Plans
A huge time-saver can be using ready-made lesson plans for places, around towns, neighbourhoods or buildings. Here are some of the best resources to take a look at:
Worksheets for Teaching Places
If you’re an English teacher, I’m sure you like to save time whenever possible, right? One way to do that is to use worksheets that other teachers have made. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to! Here are some of the best places worksheets to check out:
Printable Maps Without Labels
If you’re teaching about geography and countries, then you’re certainly going to be looking for printable maps without labels. Here are some of the best ones that we’d like to recommend:
ALL ESL (continents, USA, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa)
Printable Middle East Map Without Labels
South America Map Without Labels
Did you Like these Places Games?
- 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 over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. The key to better English classes is a wide variety of student-centred, engaging and interactive games and activities. This book will help you achieve that in style!
You can pick up the book in both digital and print formats. Consider keeping a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide when doing your lesson plans. Or, take the digital version with you on any device to your favourite coffee shop for some lesson planning on the go.
Yes, it really is that easy to have better English classes! Head over to Amazon to pick it up today:
Have your Say about Teaching Places to English Learners
Do you have any game or activity recommendations for teaching adjectives related to places for ESL/EFL students? 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 2022-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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