I have a Japanese EFL student who dislikes studying formal grammar. He easily gets bored. I suppose he’s an outlier in the world of ESL because he’s not studying for an exam such as the TOEIC or TOEFL unlike most of the professionals that I teach. He dislikes studying academic and business vocabulary. What he’s really interested in is learning English for everyday communication, from talking about the weather to introducing himself to a traveling tourist on a park bench (This scenario was his idea!). He is treating EFL as a hobby and expects to have fun and variety in every class.
His case is interesting because it provides me with the opportunity to experiment with my activities and materials. The situation lends itself well to the communicative approach otherwise known as communicative language teaching (CLT). So in keeping with CLT, my student and I have been role playing as jet setting tourists exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. This strategy was developed with the student after he expressed his desire to become more familiar with these popular tourist destinations. There are many in Japan but he has only been to a few.
For every session, I make a script about traveling. It can be about mundane must-do’s such as booking a reservation and asking for room service. It can also be a guided tour around famous landmarks and heritage sites, which I put together after an exhaustive research. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of travel information available on the Internet and a plethora of pictures. My student has exclaimed that with a sprinkle of imagination, using the pictures and maps online has been just like the real thing for him, only cheaper. 😀
The preparation isn’t all on my side either. He makes sure to read up about the cultural practices tied to these heritage sites, and takes pleasure in explaining them to me. In this way, I’ve learned a lot about his own culture in the process. He has expressed interest in expanding our virtual “trips” overseas, starting with the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
I am sharing here one of the first scripts I made. The script is about packing up for a tour overseas. Using the script, the teacher and student can role play as friends whom I’ve named Sue and Retu for the sake of convenience.
You may download the script from this link: ESL Packing Up for Travel.
P.S. I learned as I was making this script that travelling is another spelling for the gerund form of “travel” aside from the more common traveling, which only uses one l.