A Transportation Lesson for ESL Teachers

By Heather Marie Kosur

Are you a teacher of English as a second language looking for a lesson plan to teach your students about travel on the road, in the air, on the rails, and on the water in an English-speaking country? Look no further than the following vocabulary and activities focused on travel and transportation.

Teaching English language learners to talk about the different types of transportation common in English-speaking countries is essential for their success in the English language. This ESL lesson plan provides teachers and students of English as a second language with some common transit vocabulary as well as some fun activities to reinforce learning.

English Travel Vocabulary

Begin the ESL lesson by introducing the following English language transportation vocabulary and definitions:

On the Road

  • bicycle – a manual vehicle with two wheels
  • bus – a large motorized vehicle with seats for multiple passengers that usually operates as part of a scheduled paid service
  • bus stop – a place on a bus route where buses to pick up and drop off passengers
  • car – a motorized vehicle that seats five to six passengers
  • highway – a type of street between cities
  • interstate – a type of highway that crosses two or more states
  • minivan – a small passenger van
  • motorcycle – a motorized vehicle with two wheels similar to a bicycle
  • RV – a motorized vehicle used for recreation purposes and often equipped with a living area; abbreviation of recreational vehicle
  • semi – a large motorized truck with a detachable trailer used for hauling freight; abbreviation of semi-trailer
  • street – a paved surface on which vehicles drive
  • SUV – a rugged motorized vehicle designed for occasional off-road use; abbreviation of sport-utility vehicle
  • taxi – a public passenger vehicle; clipping of taxicab
  • truck – a motorized vehicle with a bed or hitch for hauling freight

In the Air

  • airplane – a motorized aircraft with wings
  • airport – an area with facilities for the landing, takeoff, shelter, supply, and repair of aircraft
  • helicopter – a motorized aircraft with rotating wings or blades
  • jet – an airplane moved by jet propulsion; clipping of jet plane
  • tarmac – an airport runway
  • terminal – a station that serves airplane passengers

On the Rails

  • cable car – a motorized vehicle operated on a cable rail
  • monorail – a motorized vehicle operated on a single rail
  • railroad – a permanent road with rails on which trains operate
  • subway – an underground railroad
  • train – a motorized vehicle operated on railroad tracks
  • tram – a motorized vehicle operated on a cable usually suspended over a canyon or between mountain peaks; clipping of tramway
  • trolley – a motorized streetcar propelled electrically from overhung wires or wires between the tracks

On the Water

  • boat – a vessel for transport by water
  • canoe – a boat with tapered points at both ends that is usually made of aluminum or fiberglass
  • cruise ship – a passenger ship used for pleasure cruises
  • rowboat – a small boat designed for rowing
  • ship – a large vessel for transport by water

For additional vocabulary and definitions, please download the accompanying vocabulary sheet from ESL Transportation Lesson Vocabulary.

ESL Activities on Transportation

After teaching the English vocabulary for travel in English speaking countries, use one or more of the following educational activities to reinforce the lesson:

  • Flashcards: Have the students make their own English transportation flashcards by printing an image of a vocabulary word on one side of the card and writing the English vocabulary word on the other. Use the flashcards to practice the vocabulary.
  • Maps: ESL students can practice their speaking skills by using a map to facilitate talking about taking a trip. Have the students explain the various modes of transit they might use while traveling from one location to another.
  • Travel journals: To practice their writing skills, English language learners can write a journal about their travels (both real and imagined). Have the students use their new vocabulary to describe a trip from one place to another.

By the end of this ESL transportation lesson plan, English language learners should be able to talk about some of the most common modes of transportation in English-speaking countries through vocabulary and activities.



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