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Lesson 2
"Describing Locations"


Being lost is not a fun situation to be in, nor is being confused as to how to find a location from someone's description. This lesson deals the topic of describing locations – whether that be either in written, verbal or picture form.

It differs from the asking / giving directions function because this lesson focuses on just describing locations using descriptive location words versus actually directing a person to a specific location.

This is a lesson that we are all taught when we are young, but it shouldn't be assumed that our Adult ESL learners will know how to interpret these descriptive directions. They are adjusting to a new country and dealing with a different language, different cultural expectations and different behavioral norms. This is an important life skill lesson that needs to be covered and done so in an adult-like manner. (This is not the same lesson our children receive, but acceptable for adults)


Length of Lesson: 50 minutes

Target Level:




  • Students will be able to follow directions and correctly locate areas on the map.

  • Students will be able to understand the proper terminology when it comes to describing locations.

  • Students will be able to use the descriptive location words to describe places.


Students will be able to…

  • look at a map and understand how to follow it and use it

  • interpret descriptive directions correctly from knowing the proper directional vocabulary

  • select the appropriate descriptive location word

  • work with partners to negotiate meaning out of descriptive directions



The following materials will be needed:

  • Pencil / pen
  • Blackboard (to write the vocabulary on)
  • Computer with Internet access and connected projector
  • Flashcards with the 11 new descriptive words printed on them
  • 2 versions of the same map
  • (Optional) quiz handout
  • (Optional) Computer with Internet access for all students





Before this section starts, the instructor will write the important vocabulary for the lesson on the blackboard.


Step 1: Lesson Introduction (1 minute)

Introduce the lesson “Describing Locations” and what to expect from the lesson.


Step 2: (10 minutes)

Introduce and explain some of the more frequently used directional terms. This will be done within a jing demonstration viewed online. Click here to view

Here are the important words that will be covered:

straight (on)  / across (from)  OR opposite / adjacent to  OR  next to  / near  OR close to /  between  /  at the end (of)  /  on/at the corner of   /  behind   /  in front of   /  (just) around the corner from  /  diagonal to OR kitty corner to  (Also: catercorner, cattycorner)


Step 3: Vocabulary Review (5 minutes)

If students have access to computers:
Students practice the vocabulary they have just learned with this Quick Quiz and fill in appropriate answers on getting lost.

If students do not have access to computers:
Download this file. Students practice the vocabulary with this quick quiz and fill in appropriate answers on getting lost.


Step 4:  Student Demonstration (10 minutes)

To reinforce the important vocabulary, students will act out the new descriptive words. The teacher will assemble volunteers into small groups (minimum of 4 students per group) to go up to the front of the class. Students draw flashcards (with the new vocabulary item on it) and must put themself in a position relative to their classmates (or objects in the classroom) that apply to the word and then create a sentence with the selected word.

For example, if the student's word was “between”, the student could say sentences like this:
I am standing between Maria and Jaime.  /  Maria is standing between me and Jahn.  /  We are standing between the wall and the table.

Step 3: Partner Work (24 minutes)

Students are divided up into partners. The teacher explains the activity to the students.  Each student will be given a separate map (either Map A or Map B) with a different list of locations on the map and a different list of locations to ask for a descriptive direction of. Students will use the direction words recently covered (and which are listed on the blackboard) to help with the activity. They are also given several model sentences on the map sheet to use for performing this activity (if they choose).

To start the activity off, the teacher will request a volunteer and demonstrate the process that the students will be participating in.



Students will be assigned a writing assignment. They will write up a short paragraph (minimum 8 sentences) describing their neighborhood using street names and surrounding locations using the new vocabulary.

For example: My house is on the corner of 5th and Mason Street, across from the Hair Salon.