Are you an English teacher that loves to travel? Or did you swap the actual classroom for a digital classroom so you could travel the world, for example via the NET scheme Hong Kong development? Then you are in the perfect position to create more engaging English lessons as you incorporate your travel experiences. This article will explain why traveling can be so enriching for teachers and how you can use your travel experiences in your lessons.
The benefits of traveling for English teachers
Traveling gives the opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures. This is especially beneficial for teachers, because it can give a deeper understanding of their students’ backgrounds and perspectives. Cultural immersion allows teachers to use authentic cultural content in their lessons. This can either be relatable to students who share that culture, or exotic and interesting to students who are from a different culture. Either way, the use of cultural content in your lessons makes them more engaging and therefore interesting for your students.
Traveling or living in a foreign country also brings you into contact with a wide range of dialects, accents, and new languages, which can be advantageous for language teachers. Secondly, you’ll most likely come into contact with different teaching methods and educational systems, which can be inspiring. Teaching is always evolving, and incorporating innovative teaching techniques in your own classroom will only help your students that much better.
How to create engaging English lessons while traveling
- Use authentic materials
As mentioned before, the use of authentic cultural content will make a lesson more engaging. By bringing back authentic materials from your travels or incorporating local materials if you’re teaching abroad, you can immerse your students more fully.
If you are teaching English as a foreign language abroad, you can use items such as menus, brochures, maps or newspapers as a translation exercise. Let your students translate these familiar, authentic materials into English. Incorporating these practical, real-life resources will bring the language to life and make the lessons more relatable for your students.
If you are teaching English in an English-speaking country and you’ve just gotten back from holiday, you can use authentic materials you’ve found during your travels in your lessons. For example, bring your souvenirs to the classroom and talk about them.
- Roleplay a cultural exchange
When we ask someone “how was your holiday?”, they usually have a lot of things to say. Use that inspiration to roleplay a cultural exchange with your students. Re-create situations you’ve encountered on your travels and let your students improvise on how they would handle it. You can even incorporate photos and videos to make it a more immersive experience.
Typical examples of situations are ordering food at a restaurant or asking the way to your hotel, but there are no limits to what you can roleplay. For example, why not pretend you’ve just met an interesting friend from another country and you want to explain more about your own country and convince them to come with you?
- Virtual tours
Today’s technology allows you to travel to exotic countries without leaving the comfort of your own home. If you’ve travelled yourself, use your own videos and photos to take your students on a virtual tour of your travels. Or ask your students to bring their own videos and photos of holidays they themselves have been on and let them take the class on a virtual tour.
If you are teaching English as a foreign language, you can take your students on a virtual tour to your home country and let them experience a different culture. A lot of museums and cultural sites have been documented by Google streetview, so you can literally take a walk in them without being there.
- Collaborative projects
Some students love collaborative projects while others hate it. One thing that is universally true, is that they are very immersive and most students will remember these projects much better than just normal lessons.
Creating a collaborative project around traveling can go in a lot of different ways. You can assign countries or specific places, different kinds of foods from around the world, or different kinds of cultures. A fully immersive, collaborative project combines all three of those.
For example, work out a project about Italy. One part of the class can work on Italy’s history, another on typical Italian food (with a tasting session, of course!), and another part of your class has to recreate typical Italian art. By presenting this as a group, you encourage collaboration between students. Not only will your students learn about the country, but by making them do the assignment in English, they also practice their speaking, reading, and writing skills.
- Personal reflections about travel
Set up assignments in which your students must write personal reflections about their own travel experiences. This allows them to fondly look back on holidays while also practicing their written language skills, which is essential for when they need to write an essay for college applications.
After the writing assignments, you can use those personal reflections as a reading example and let your students tell the class about their travels and what they’ve learned from it. If students experience too much stress talking in front of a group, you could allow them to record a video beforehand and play that in the class. This exercise is especially fun right after or before a holiday, so students can either reminisce or dream about their next travel experience.
If your students haven’t travelled before, ask them to write about their dream trip. They can pick any place in the world, but they will have to research the place so they can accurately describe it. Alternatively, you could also let their imagination run wild and make up a dream trip that doesn’t have to be real. When presenting their trip, they can use a moodboard instead of their own photos and videos.
In conclusion, traveling benefits English teachers by providing cultural immersion and exposure to diverse languages and teaching methods. To create engaging English lessons while traveling, teachers can utilize authentic materials, engage in roleplays, incorporate virtual tours, facilitate collaborative projects, and encourage personal reflections. By integrating travel experiences, teachers can create dynamic and immersive learning environments that enhance students’ language skills and foster a deeper understanding of different cultures.