Lesson Ideas: Countries and Nationalities
A common theme in beginner and elementary course books is countries and nationalities, which often appears in one of the first units. However, lessons or speaking clubs themed on countries and nationalities at higher levels can be done which allow students to say much more about them.
I plan to do a separate page (or more than one) for travel related ideas, so these are not included here.
Possible Learning Outcomes:
Beyond being able to name countries and nationalities, it may also be useful for students to talk about countries or make generalisations about them. The following outcomes may therefore be useful in planning a lesson:
(All outcomes should be proceeded by “by the end of the lesson, students will be better able to”)
- identify countries on a world map and name the corresponding nationality,
- say where people are from and what their nationality is,
- talk about what a country is known for e.g. famous people and products,
- make generalisations about a country, nationality or something related to either (e.g. I love Italian food).
Course books often introduce a number of country and nationality pairings that they assume are useful to all students. Certain countries are always represented (the UK and the USA), some may find their way in (Thailand, Argentina), and some never get a look in (Nigeria, Pakistan). However, the countries and nationalities that students need to know most of all are the ones that their country has the most exposure to.
For this reason, when introducing students to countries and nationalities, I like to give them a blank world map and find their country first of all. In teams, I then ask them to find as many countries as they know, mark them and also write the nationality of people from that country. We then go through these and give out points to the teams.
Talking about a Country/Nationality
One activity that students should be able to do from a pre-intermediate level is to prepare a short talk on a country. You could have a student pull a country from a hat each week and next week that student delivers a short talk on that country. You can provide questions to help the student e.g. what is the population, capital, national dish, official language, etc. To make it more fun (and ensure other students listen), you could also ask the student to prepare a few questions for their classmates to answer after their talk.
You could invite students at higher levels to do a pecha kucha presentation on a country. This is simply a 7 minute (6 minutes 40 seconds to be precise) talk with 20 pictures each being shown for 20 seconds each. Students may find it motivating to look for these pictures.
A good lead-in to a lesson on a particular country is the 5 things game. To play you simply need to think of 5 things that you find in a particular country, or 5 things that a particular nationality famously do. Of course these shouldn’t be things that are true to all countries (though not necessarily unique). For example:
5 things that you find in Australia:
- Gigantic spiders
5 things British people do:
- talk about the weather
- drink tea
- use sarcasm
- apologise too much
Another game that can be played here is one minute talks. In this game you just need the name of some countries written on pieces of paper. In groups one student takes a piece of paper and turns it over. The student has to try and talk about this country for minute. Alternatively, instead of trying to speak for one minute, they can speak for an unlimited time, but the other students should try and guess the country.