Learning a new language can take you anywhere. Pupils sometimes need reminding of this to motivate them. In the cold grip of January, they are learning words that could one day take them to new worlds.
Travel is a great topic for language lessons, especially if you make it feel as real as possible for pupils. Cover a wide range of language situations by dividing the topic into two parts: "Before you go" and "Now you're here!" The pre-travel section could include the conditional and future tenses as well as the present tense.
Pupils could research a place online that they really want to visit one day. If you teach a language, such as Spanish, that is spoken in many parts of the world, they could choose to research one of those places. Wherever it is, they must read about their chosen destination on websites in the target language.
Using Google in a foreign language encourages pupils to learn independently. They could then write an email asking to book flights and a room. They could also make a list of things to take on holiday and any inoculations they may need.
Once on foreign soil, what are the language situations you are most likely to meet? Practise the vocabulary of booking rooms, asking directions and finding out about train and bus timetables.
Liven this up by asking pupils: "What could possibly go wrong?" Make a list of potential disasters, big and small, down one side of a page. On the other side, list the things you would need to be able to say in order to get out of these tight spots.
The problem that arises for many travellers is that they know how to ask a question so well their listener thinks they speak the foreign language fluently. How do you politely ask someone to slow down, repeat their answer, or even write something down? Pupils could create their own phrasebooks to keep for future use when one day they travel on their own for real.
Monty Python's "Dirty Fork" sketch is a hilarious way to teach the vocabulary of eating out abroad. Show the class a version that has foreign language subtitles. Get pupils to write down as much of the new language as they can. Show it twice, perhaps. Give them the expressions and vocabulary that they will find most useful, then divide them into groups for the role play.
They could either create their own versions of the "Dirty Fork" sketch in the target language or make up their own scenarios. They could write menus for use as props during the role play. This will give them something to talk about if they get stuck, while at the same time keeping the role play spontaneous. The sketches will be so funny that they won't have time to be afraid of speaking in a foreign language.
Catherine Paver is an English teacher and singer-songwriter who writes songs about her travels. Listen to these at www.paversongs.com
TES has a great choice of MFL resources on travel.
Help pupils describe a past holiday in French with rosaespanola's scheme of work.
Or try her vocab sheet to help pupils structure sentences on future holiday plans.
Pupils can practise speaking about holidays with chatterbox81's prompt cards.