In the Town

This is a popular topic with young learners as it is easy for them to relate to the situations and it provides many opportunities to practise using the language in a communicative and real context. 

Jo Bertrand


  • To provide lots of speaking time
  • To enable students to concentrate on their fluency (role-play conversations) but also their accuracy (drill pre-role-play)
  • To use real photos in order to arouse and maintain interest


  • Library, bookshop, toy shop, bakery, post office, school, park, sweet shop, clothes shop, swing, slide, see-saw, sand pit
  • Your own selection of objects you can find to buy in a town


  • Lots of picture cards of objects you can buy in the town at various shops
  • Role-play cards
  • Space (although there is an alternative)
  • Homemade game board
  • Dice (enough for one for every four pupils)
  • Counters (these could be paperclips or pieces of paper)

7 years old +

Role play workshop

  • You can set up your classroom as a town and get the children to make their own signs and posters to show what part of town they are, whether it be the post office, sweet shop, café or park.
  • Put them into eight groups. This should be in pairs but can be more if you have a large class. The extra pupils should be placed with the groups that are stationed around the room and not with those who are visiting the town. This is purely a logistics solution so that at any one time you only have four pairs walking around the room.
  • Each work station should have role-play flashcards for a simple conversation.
  • Each couple of town visitors should have a set of four different conversations to use at each corner of the room.
  • They can move around the room and choose where they want to go. They just can’t go to the same place twice or go somewhere where there is already a couple.
  • They should only go to two different places so that everyone can have a go at walking around the town.
    • If you don’t have the space then simply allocate places in the town to each pair.
    • You can still set up a rotation system in that each pair has a random role-play card and then when the set time is over everyone passes along their cards and takes the cards from the pair sitting next to them.
    • Just make sure when handing them out at the beginning there are no two the same next to each other.
    • So it is not too long and too much of a vocabulary overload you should limit it to two role plays.

Work on an example conversation as a class together before they start working on their own to help ensure they are producing some relevant language.
A: Good morning
B: Good morning
A: Please can I buy a stamp.
B: Yes of course. Can I have your letter please?
A: Yes. (The customer gives his letter to the post office worker.)
B: Thank you. (The post office worker weighs the letter.) That’s 40p please.
A: Here you are. (The customer gives some money to the post office worker.)
B: Thank you. (The post office worker takes the money and gives the customer his letter and stamp.)
A: Where do I post the letter?
B: Over there.
A: Thank you! Goodbye.
B: Goodbye.

This is one that I have already created for you to use. You could give this to them as an example to do some intonation and pronunciation work as you do a class drill. This is when you say the sentence and they repeat it back to you.

  • Then think about a frame for another of the situations and together with your pupils you can create the finer details of the conversation. This way the language is at their level and you can guide them but the onus is on them to use what they know to create a conversation.
  • You could then brainstorm some essential language for each of the other situations if you think your class is capable of creating a short simple exchange.
  • Monitor as they are having their conversations and help where necessary. Only intervene if they ask for your help of if you hear some major errors but otherwise let them work on their fluency.

Possible situations

  • Posting a letter
  • Buying sweets
  • Trying on clothes
  • Playing with friends in a playground

Giving directions
Obstacle course

  • If you have space in your room to move around then make the space as safe as possible. Remove any bags or pencil cases that are lying around and push the tables and chairs out of the way. You need to let people walk around, blindfolded without them getting hurt.
  • Put the class in pairs. One person from the pair puts on a blindfold and the other one will be their guide.
  • Do a demonstration run before you begin putting the blindfolds on with you as the guide and one person as your partner. To make it easier for the pupils you can set up the room before the blindfolds go on by carefully placing three of four obvious objects around the room. Once the blindfolds are on you can place town picture cards around the room. Each couple has to collect as many as possible.
  • Split the class into two groups if you have a large class. The couple with the most cards at the end wins. The cards could be objects you buy in a supermarket or places in the town.

The language you are practising here includes; go straight on, turn left, turn left, in front of you, behind you, next to you, on your left, on your right, stop, wait.

Find a selection of photos related to the town. With real photos you make the language context more life-like and interesting compared to drawing pictures on the board or having cartoon characters, although these are obviously valid visuals as well.

  • Show them parts of the photos and they have to guess what it’s a picture of.
  • You can copy the photos and cut them up into jigsaw pieces. The children have to put them together and describe the photo.

Shopping game

  • You will need to create a game board with about 50 squares on it. You do not need a finish square.
  • Every few squares stick a picture card of a shop.
  • Each child should have a counter and each group of four should have a game board and a dice.
  • On the board you can stick several picture cards of possible objects you can buy in the shops on the board.
  • The children go round the board using the dice.
  • When they land on a shop they look at the board, choose an object that corresponds to the shop they are in and then ask their team mates the following question; ‘May I have a bike, please?’
  • One of the group goes and collects the object by answering ‘Yes, of course.’
  • The ‘customer’ cannot help the sales assistant to find the product on the board.
  • When all the objects have been taken from the board the games must finish and the winning team is the one with most objects.
  • They will be practising the object vocabulary and their polite questions and answers for shops. The customer need to produce the word for an object (as well as get an object which corresponds to the correct shop) and the sales assistant need to recognize what the object is that they’ve been asked for.

This idea has been adapted from Games for Children by Gordon Lewis and Gunther Bedson.

Further suggestions
They could design their own town at home and label the names of the different sites, including toy shop, park, clothes shop, café, cinema etc. Then the following lesson they could compare with their neighbours’ pictures asking ‘Where is the…?’ ‘Next to the park’ etc.

Language Level

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