written by: Anne Vize
• edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
• updated: 12/30/2013
For students traveling in Australia, ESL lessons can provide a fun introduction to common and proper nouns in English. You can also encourage use of technological tools to support their learning. Introduce students to some Australian place names and watch their interest in ESL-based travel soar!
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Common And Proper Nouns
The key learning objective embedded within this ESL lesson on visiting Australia is to gain an understanding of common and proper nouns. It will also improve students' ability to use both noun forms appropriately and confidently. Another objective is for students to be able to access and use Google Maps as a technological tool to locate places within a country via the search function.
Common nouns - They are the part of speech used to refer to objects or items. Common nouns do not require a capital letter at the start of the word (except at the beginning of a sentence). For example: table, chair, house, seat, paper, book, sofa, calculator.
Proper nouns - They are the part of speech used to refer to people or places. Proper nouns require a capital letter at the start of the word. For example: Mr. Smith, Mrs. Blogs, Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Rode Street, Sydney Opera House.
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Points for Your Lesson Plan
1. Introduce students to the two types of nouns and discuss some everyday examples.
2. Use Google Maps to locate a map of Australia and provide general information about the country:
Population of roughly 20 million people
Capital city is Canberra
Most major cities are on the coast, and the majority are on the eastern seaboard (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane)
Large desert area in the center of the country
Modern cities, with Sydney having the largest population and Melbourne the second largest
Industries include mining, agriculture, travel and some manufacturing
Strongly multi-cultural country with many different languages spoken
First language is English
Indigenous Aboriginal population speaks a variety of Aboriginal languages
3. Set students' individual research tasks to generate lists related to Australia of both common and proper nouns, and remind them that proper nouns require capital letters.
4. Ask individuals to share their lists with a partner and discuss any words that are new or challenging.
5. Ask students to plan a "Traveling in Australia" route that they could complete over a two-week holiday in Australia. They need to provide distances between place names (use a variety of web-based tools to calculate this, or use library resources or a map scale) and suggest approximately how long it would take to complete each stage of the journey. Encourage students to research places to visit as an extension task--they can be easily researched via keyword searching through Google. For example:
Fly into Sydney - visit the Sydney Opera House and The Rocks and Harbour Bridge and Sydney Aquarium
Drive to Melbourne - visit Fairy Penguins on Phillip Island, Melbourne Zoo and Healsville Sanctuary
Fly to Alice Springs - visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) and travel to Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park
Fly to Sydney for return journey to home country
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As an extension task for early-finishing or more competent students, ask them to provide a verbal report to the class about their favorite location to visit on a virtual tour of Australia or to extend their learning to include an understanding of Australian colloquialisms and sayings.