The London Taxi Cab
So, you are an English teacher in a foreign country, and you take a taxi. There is a silence for a minute or so, and then the questions come...
And actually, these first few questions are usually pretty much the same and in the same order, just usual 'small talk', to keep the journey friendly.
"Where are you from?"
"How long have you been here?"
"Do you like Xi'an (or what ever city you are in)?"
"What is your job?"
And this got me thinking...I reckon that these opening questions would be pretty much the same in any taxi cab in the world, and that you could probably get a good speaking activity out of this with your adult English students...
What to do
Tell your class that you are totally new to their country and that you got in a taxi for the first time just yesterday. Tell your class that the driver was trying to speak to you, and that you understood some of it, but not all. Your journey was only five minutes, so he could only really ask a few questions before you got out.
Ask your class to guess the kind of questions the driver might have been asking you. Put your students into pairs and ask them to think of five possible questions he was asking you.
Watch the class closely, and when you see them slowing down and starting to look up at you, then you'll know that they are pretty much done. Ask students to give you some of their ideas and write them on the board.
Now ask them to think of a few more questions had your journey been for 15 minutes. Again, get them into pairs and this time, circulate around and help with language. Once they are done, get more of their ideas written on the board.
Now, time to move on to the next stage...
Tell the class that they are on business in London and it is their first day. They are in a London cab going to a meeting. The taxi driver doesn't know any of their language, but is friendly, and wants to know more about their new passenger.
Arrange four chairs in the middle of the class to make your 'taxi', and you the teacher, in the 'driver's seat. Ask one or two of your more confident students to 'hop in' and take them to the meeting!! Actually pretend to be a driver, moving your arms, and asking them the questions from the board! Your students now have to answer these questions as though they were actually in London!
Change passengers frequently and give everyone else a chance to ride in the cab. You can also change drivers and have a student be the driver to get them practicing the questions, too!
This is a good activity for lower level students, with lots of really good speaking practice in a fun way.
by Stuart Allen