The Classroom City ESL activity is a role play setup for practising shopping interactions and everyday conversations.
Divide the class into pairs.
If you want the students to make signs for their stores, you will also need some large pieces of paper.
- Each pair chooses/is assigned a different place in the city (cafe, supermarket, hairdressers etc.).
- They invent some details for that place such as the name of their business, the products they offer etc. Having them make a sign is a nice addition too, and they could even could make or bring in different objects found in their place, for added realia. You could do this step as part of the Create A Company project.
- Depending on the student level, you may also want them to prepare some common questions/phrases they might need as staff. For example cafe staff might say Hi, what can I get you? Anything to drink? That’s £9.50 please. Do you need a receipt?
- When the students are prepared, set up each of the places (as tables with two chairs) spread around the classroom.
- One student from each pair will act as the staff at their place first. The other students stand up and walk around the ‘classroom city’, visiting different places and buying different things.
- After they have visited all (or almost all) the places, the partners switch roles and this is repeated.
- At the end, the students discuss as a class (or in small groups) what their most popular products were and what they bought as customers.
As an extension, what about getting students to review one of the places they went to, using our Write A Review activity?
The Classroom City ESL activity clearly lends itself to practising places in the city and related vocabulary for objects found in those places.
But it’s also a great way to practise shopping interactions and ‘small talk’. Depending on the level of your students, you could introduce commonly used slang and expressions.
If you have a big classroom, you could even add a step to incorporate directions into the Classroom City ESL activity. Arrange the desks in a street layout and make some of them extra landmarks like statues and parks. Students write, swap and follow directions on how to get to different places – this is great for younger kids!
For an activity in which students create a paper map of places in city to practise directions, see the Town Map project.
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