This activity is inspired by yesterday’s teachbytes post on GeoGuessr, a sort of visual, addictive version of that geography game of my childhood – Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? GeoGuessr is powered by Google Maps Street View and presents players with a sequence of 5 street view images from around the world. You need to guess the location using visual clues that can be explored by rotating the view or following the arrows. Some potential clues like license plates, signs and faces are blurred. When you’re ready, click on the world map in the top right corner, zoom in as much as you want and submit your guess. You win points based on how near or far your guess is to the actual location of the image. The author of teachbytes positions the game as a way of understanding geography but I sussed out a language activity.
This is a dictogloss in spirit rather than in letter. Apologies to pedants.
Level & audience: A2 and above; should work across levels since it’s driven by language that learners are already familiar with. I can’t be certain but the activity might work better with adult learners and those who have travelled a bit may enjoy it more.
Materials: Laptop or digital device with internet connectivity; projector.
Duration: 30 min
- Ask Ss if they like to travel and encourage them to talk about places they’ve been to and places they’d like to visit.
- Tell them that they’re going to do a bit of travelling over the next half an hour.
- Divide the Ss into groups and explain how GeoGuessr works. Access GeoGuessr and project your screen. Ask Ss to work out which location the image might be of. As they discuss possible responses, use the navigation tools to explore the location and visual clues.
- After Ss share guesses, validate their responses by identifying the location and congratulating the team who made the closest guess.
- Repeat the procedure with the next couple of images but hurry Ss along.
Describe the location
- After Ss have got a hang of how the game works, turn off the projector (or pause if you have that feature).
- Have the volunteer step in front of your laptop. Only the volunteer should be able to see what’s on your screen.
- Inform the Ss that the volunteer is a famous world traveller who loves exploring little known places. Unfortunately, she has got lost on this trip. She is unable to access GPRS or any web-based services on her phone. However, she seems to be able to make phone calls but she has only enough credit to make a 30 second international call. So, she decides to call you. You’ll need to help her figure out where she is. As she describes her location, make notes by writing down as much as possible.
- The volunteer then describes the location. Encourage her to use the arrows and rotation tool to explore the image and find visual clues.
- Ask for another volunteer and announce that this person has also got lost at the same location. Get the volunteer to describe the location while Ss take notes, checking against details they took down previously.
Reconstruct the description
- Put Ss in pairs and ask them to compare notes and create a coherent description – one they could share with contacts on a social media site.
- As pairs finish writing their descriptions, ask them to write it up somewhere everyone can see it. You could do this in two ways:
- Non-tech version: Assign spaces on the whiteboard where each pair can write their description.
- Tech version: Get Ss to share their descriptions in a shared forum or social media group or perhaps on Twitter if they produce one sentence descriptions.
- Ask Ss to read each other’s descriptions for similarities and differences.
- Encourage peer correction through whatever approach you think works best before sharing your own feedback.
- Turn on the projector, display the image and get Ss to talk about how different the image might be from the way they visualized it.
- Ask them where in the world this could be. Validate their guesses by clicking on the world map.