Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Goolge Maps for Directions

Love them or hate them, you have to admit that Google does offer us all manner of useful free tools. One of my favourites is Google Maps, especially useful on my odd trips to London (when I never seem to be able to remember my A-Z!)

So, I've been thinking about how we could use this 'real world' tool to help our EFL students and to develop their abilities to give and understand directions. It's actually quite simple to use. You just go to or Click on 'Get Directions' and then enter your start point and destination. Click the Google logo below for a quick video tutorial that shows some of the features.

Click for flash video tutorial (1.4 Mb)

So how can we use this with students?
  • Choose a location and destination and get Google Maps to create your directions, then print up a map of London with the two destinations on and ask your students to mark the route on the map.
  • A variation on this would be to have the map printed with the route on and cut up the directions and ask your students to put them in the correct order
  • Print up a route map and directions and edit out some of the key words, then get your students to write in the missing words.
  • Give your students a map showing only the start point and read out directions for them to follow. They have to listen and tell you what the destination is.
  • Print out close ups of each stage of the journey and use them as flash cards. Get your students to match each step of the journey to the correct flashcard.
  • Print out a route map and ask students to write their own directions for the map (You could give two groups different destinations then get them to exchange directions to see if the other group can use their directions to find the correct destination.)
  • To download an example set of directions + route map and blank map to print up and use for these activities click here: Example materials >> (500k pdf)
  • To print up maps and directions for yourself just click on the Google maps 'Print' icon.

What I like about it
  • Google maps is free and really simple to use
  • If you have an i-pod touch or an i-phone, there is a fantastic Google Maps widget which you can install (great for mobile learning)
  • Gives good clear instructions and easy to print maps (just use the 'Print' icon)
  • A really useful 'real world' tool
  • You can use it live if you have a computer room or data projector / interactive whiteboard in class, or just print up materials for use off line.

What I'm not so sure about
  • The detail of the maps for some developing countries is pretty sparse
Hope you find this tool useful and if you have suggestions for other activities I'd love o hear them.




Tom said...

Smart use of Google with no sign-ups for teachers and hassle. Thanks for the ready-made lesson, too.
More uses:
- To up the stakes teachers might want to scrub the end address so that pupils really have to follow the map to be able to fill it in. (Could be made class competition: who gets the right answer first?)
- As a listening exercise one pupil reads the directions to a partner who has to find the finishing point.

Jesroddy said...

You can also make your own map. This means adding text pictures and video to an interactive Google map. The link to this map can then be publicised. Here in NZ we are using this as a sort of 2D Wiki for class projects. For example a senior technology class is studying Art Deco buildings of Wellington. They are required to take photos and write information about significant buildings. This information is then transferred to a Google Map.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Jesroddy

That's a really nice idea. I have heard that Google maps is now integrated with Wikipedia so that you can get information from there about each place you click on the map. Haven't tried it yet though. Sounds like it might make for interesting treasure hunt type activities.

Thanks for the suggestion