Divide students into groups. Have them discuss where they would like to visit. Provide them with a world map and brochures of interesting cities. Have them choose countries from around the world to which to travel. Depending on how many students are in the class, some will play the role of travelers, while others play the role of airport staff. They can even create airport staff nametags, such as immigration officer, baggage clerk and customs officer. They can also make imitation passports.
Let’s start with an ESL lesson at the airport where travelers are at the check in desk and asked to show their passport. This lesson gives practice in asking and answering questions politely, the present and future tenses of “to go” and “to travel” and “to stay” and answering the questions, “What is the purpose of your visit,” “Where are you traveling,” and “Where will you be staying?” Students also get to practice pronouncing the names of different countries.
The dialogues can be quite simple as follows:
Immigration officer: - Good morning/Good evening. Your passport please.
Traveler: - Here you are
Immigration officer: - Where are you traveling?
Traveler: - I am going to Calcutta, India.
Immigration officer: Wow! You are traveling far! You would be taking about three planes to arrive there.
Traveler: - I believe so, yes.
Immigration officer: - What is the purpose of your visit?
Traveler: - I will be attending a conference for journalists.
Immigration officer: -That’s great (officer stamps passport). Here is your passport. You have a great trip.
Traveler: - Thank you Sir/Madam.
If there are not many students in the class, and the student has chosen a far destination like India, he or she can pretend to pass through other immigration controls before arriving.
A similar dialogue can be made for passing through customs on return from a trip.
Customs officer: Good morning/Good afternoon/evening
Traveler: Good morning/afternoon/evening
Customs officer: Where are you coming from?
Traveler: I am coming from Florence, Italy.
Customs Officer: How was your flight?
Traveler: It was great, thank you. I enjoyed it.
Customs Officer: Do you have anything to declare?
Traveler: Yes, I have two bottles of wine
Customs Officer: That’s not a problem. That is within your allowance.
Traveler: Thank you Sir/Madam
Customs Officer: Have a good day. (afternoon/evening/ night)
Have students present a dialogue involving the check-out process with an immigration officer at the airport of arrival. Let them include
- greeting the officer
- being asked for and tending their passport
- answer why they are visiting the country
- answer how log they will be in the country
- tell the officer where they will be staying
This should be quite a fun exercise for upper intermediate level and advanced level students of English. The lesson can further be developed to include checking in luggage, passing through security and greeting family or friends when being picked up on arrival.