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Use Google Earth to Teach Geography, Foreign Language, and More! Lesson Plan

By Eric W. Vogt

Google Earth is exciting largely because it's user driven. Teachers can exploit this tool in a number of ways. This lesson plan suggests a few ways to use it to teach commands and geography terms in an interactive, enticing environment.

Let's Use Google Earth to Teach Spanish!

One of the most exciting things I have found on the Internet is Google Earth. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is easy to download the free version at

If your classroom is equipped with a computer or if there is any other way you can log on to this site and project it on your screen, you should. This lesson plan is rather open-ended, since the only limits to using it are your imagination. I have concentrated on the most obvious use – for teaching vocabulary about geography, maps, geo-political boundaries and so forth. In most textbooks, Ud. commands are often introduced in the context of asking and giving directions. Since many places such as sites of interest are also displayed and identified on Google Earth, it is perfect for asking the typical question “¿Cómo se llega a… desde…?

You will have a lot of fun using Google Earth to teach the vocabulary of geography, names of countries, rivers, mountains, and cities. You can begin by positioning your view at nearly any altitude, from satellite altitude to that of a pigeon. From that position, say, your own school (!), you can “fly” over (mostly) clear photos of large parts of the world. You can position yourself directly above a known address, zooming in and out, turning to any direction of the compass.

Because of its high-quality images and easy handling, Google Earth is a perfect classroom tool for teaching students how to give instructions for navigating maps of all sorts. You can take turns with students and model what they too can do with partners on their personal computers, as they practice later, or depending on whether they can have PCs in class, in small groups, or ideally, as partners. They can also play “battleship”-like games, with each student on Google Earth without seeing their partner’s screen and take turns guiding each other to destinations.

Geological features and their names can come to life in this user-guided environment.

There is also a flight simulator… and guided tours of famous places. There is much of the world to see and to talk about on Google Earth for foreign-language teachers and their students.