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Give your learners Google Streetview, and without doubt they will look for their house. So says Phil Bird says, or words to that effect. And this can be a good thing. After all, as Phil suggests, get your learners to describe the area where they live to each other. Monitor this, listen to their chat, make notes and suggestions where appropriate. So far, so plugged/unplugged.

But can you go further, supporting learners with language for describing their area and then use this for practising some fluency and grammatical accuracy?

I think if you add in a language plant, this is definitely possible. And can leverage a connected classroom (i.e. one with computers and internet access, either connected to a projector for the whole class, or individual pcs).

[NB – If you are worried about your Language Plants disappearing, you can always use the Print Screen key on your keyboard to copy your computer screen and paste it in Microsoft Paint or another image editing program]

Ingredients: A map of the local area, or learners’ own mobile devices, or individual class pcs, or one class pc connected to a projector; learners; learners talking; the Language Garden Plant Maker, courtesy of the Language Gardener himself, David Warr (click on Have A Go! when you get there).

Step 1)

Get your learners to find an aerial view of their local area on their pcs/mobile devices/maps and talk to a partner about what they can see. Monitor and note down language. If you can, display the image so that everyone can see, and get learners’s suggestions. In my case, this would be Bromley:

Immediately, my learners could see a few things that were in Bromley like: a church, railway/train stations, and parks.

Step 2)

Ask learners what words we use to describe an area and its surroundings and elicit the structures:

in + place name

near + place name

example: in Bromley

Use the Plant Maker to show this on the screen:

Step 3)

Board all the words and longer phrases that your learners come up with: (you could do this on the Plant Maker again)


Step 4)

Try to elicit the forms we use to describe what is in an area like Bromley, i.e. there is/are. And aim to end up with something like this:

Step 5)

Focus on the meaning, form and pronunciation as necessary. Then take it away. Perhaps rewrite with just there is/there are as a prompt.

Step 6)

Ask your learners to describe the area to each other. Is there anything that they missed? Further discussion can centre around what you can do, for example, at the park or theatre.

Why not join the Language Gardening Facebook Group and share some of your plants?

You can find David’s Language Garden blog here.