In this post I will explain the procedure of teaching the adverbials of location and giving directions as indicated in my previous post. Each time I teach location, in whatever language I happen to be teaching, I use LEGO bricks. It may not be particularly original, but it’s the most effective method I know of. LEGO bricks are great for three reasons: (1) people know them and like them; (2) I have children so I have boxes of them at home; (3) they are easy to carry around and play with.
This is how I broke down the task:
- Adverbials of place – Static
- Adverbials of place – Dynamic
- Locating places on a simple city map and giving directions.
- Give directions to your home from the train/tram station
1. Adverbials of place – Static
Lay your LEGO bricks one by one in front of you. Establish the names of colours.
Pick the red one. Put it on the desk. Say: To je červená. This is a red one.
Pick the blue one. Put it on the desk. Say: To je modrá. Modrá je vlevo. This is (a) blue (one). It is on the left.
Swap sides: Modrá je vpravo.
Add new language, slowly and one by one : Červená je nahoře. Modrá je dole. Bílá je uprostřed.
Get faster. Turn the bricks 90°: Modrá je vlevo. Bílá je uprostřed. Červená je vpravo.
Repeat ad infinitum. Change colours. Change pace. Your student will probably start saying the language after you, but it isn’t necessary and you can stay with receptive skills.
Change task, still receptive: Say right and wrong sentences. Ask student to correct you.
If the student is confident (mine is), they can have a go themselves. Swap roles. Student utters the language. You, the teacher, only react if it’s produced correctly.
By now you will have established the meaning of the static adverbials.
2. Adverbials of Place – Dynamic
First, review the static adverbials. Next, using a similar procedure as before, introduce the meaning of the Dynamic concept: make sure there is only a blue brick on the desk in front of you. Take the red brick. Say: Dám červenou doleva. (I’ll put the red one on the left). Repeat with doprava, nahoru, dolů, doprostřed. The student will probably understand because the adverbials are similar, but won’t have realised straight away there are two different situations. At this point, it is very important to illustrate the difference by showing it with the bricks. Either the brick is there, on the left, or it isn’t there and you’re putting in somewhere. Repeat as many times as necessary until the student gets it.
Also, I think this is the right time to write all the words down in two columns. It is the moment when the meaning is understood and the student needs to know the system.
Then repeat all the tasks, changing Static and Dynamic, saying right and wrong sentences, you and student alternating giving instructions, you get the picture.
3. Locating places on a simple map and giving directions.
Now it’s time to enlarge the situation and get closer to our aim – getting around a city/town/village.
I had drawn two same plans and gave one to the student and one to myself. I had also written down two sets of post-in notes. I’d put a name of a place on each one, for example: kino (cinema), stanice metra (metro station), kostel (church). I gave some empty cards to the student to add some places of his choice.
I pre-taught the basic imperative for giving directions: Jdětě – Go! I explained we would stick a card somewhere on the plan and direct the other student to that place. When he was sure where the place is, he would stick his cards on the plan. I did the first several rounds myself to provide the student with plenty of receptive practice. Then we swapped and took turns. During the exercise, I corrected all the mistakes in the static x dynamic adverbials.
The dialogues we ended up with were, for example:
A: Dobrý den, prosím vás, kde je tady kino?
B : Musíte jít doprava, potom rovně. Kino je napravo.
A : Děkuju, na shledanou !
I really like this exercise because it clearly shows if you did the task well or not; it gives the learner choice in terms of which place to choose and where to put it; and it can be repeated many times so that the language is actually practised to fluency.
I assigned homework, a worksheet with sentences. In each one, I highlighted the verb in bold and the student had to make a decision whether it is static or dynamic. Then I gave a choice of two adverbials of which the student had to underline the correct one. I found this type of a structured exercise works much better than a gap fill, which would have been too difficult at this stage. The student completed it without mistakes, which showed me he understood the concept of static and dynamic verbs.
I also made a Quizlet set with 30 short and simple sentences with translations to practise the target language.
4. Exit Task:
There were two, but there should have been three.
I asked the student to tell me the way from the tram stop to his place as if instructing a friend. We worked on in together because it involved more language than the simple language we had been studying.
I asked the student to write a note to a friend telling them the way from Prague’s Main Train Station to their place. He did amazingly well on this, having looked up some of the needed language himself.
What I should have done was to give directions to real places myself and see how well the student understood. I think I might do that in one of our next lessons as a warm-up.
This was the end of our task. We have done several roleplays since then and I know the student understands the concept and knows when to use which adverb.
Thanks for reading and let me know how you teach directions to beginners! Also by now, you know enough to try the homework yourselves.