Think local

Published on 21st April, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Using the local environment as a source of material, ideas and inspiration can be a useful approach, which many of you no doubt exploit already. Localised tasks can be slotted neatly into your courses at any level. Here are some random generic ideas.

Role plays
Incorporate local places such as the tourist information centre, local bus station, museums, shops, the local hairdresser or sports centre into roleplays, eg asking for info at a local sports centre. Such exercises are standard, but localising them gives them a twist!

Reading
Many of the above places have associated reading material ripe for exploitation in class, eg a museum leaflet can provide a scan reading exercise, as can a menu. Such tasks lend themselves well to follow-on spoken fluency tasks, eg interviews, presentations, (phone) dialogues or questionnaires.

Research tasks
Students use the internet or other sources as a basis for written or speaking tasks, eg making a tourist brochure for a local historical site after researching it. In this case, a speaking task such as an interview with a local TV reporter and a visitor might be a natural follow-on.

Writing tasks
Many of the above could be exploited to include a written dimension too. It is also simple to integrate the notion of localisation into relevant writing tasks. For example, if you are doing a letter of complaint, use a personal or local example such as a shop or restaurant; for an email requesting information, write to a local hotel; for a letter of application, use a local company.

Localising your tasks and topics motivates students by encouraging them to connect, thus making English seem more immediate. This tip harks back to the very first that was posted: Designing personalised worksheets. Personalising and localising are two peas in the same pod: they foreground the learner and his or her socio-cultural milieu, making language more meaningful.

1 Comment

  • wonderful lessons much appreciated. particularly tips on using local context as global schema can be a difficult hurdle for students with limited world knowledge.

    eilish Casey on 13 March, 2012