Wednesday, 20 February 2013

This Little Piggy went to Market...

If you're lucky enough to have a good local market, it can be an excellent destination for a class trip, providing numerous opportunities for language practice and discovery.  Here are a few ideas for activities for a market excursion:

Before you go:

Set students to research the the market: how long has there been a market in this location?  (For classes in Britain: what is a 'market town' and why was this important in the past?)  Are there special markets on particular days, like a farmer's market or an antiques market?  If it's an indoor market, when was it built and what was there before?  

Scavenger Hunts:

Possibly the simplest kind of activity is for students to search for different things on sale in the market, such as:
  • something beginning with each letter of the alphabet
  • something from or associated with every continent in the world (Antarctica may seem a bit of a stretch, but look for penguins on logos of frozen food!)
  • ingredients to make a particular meal
  • something associated with every room in the house
Students could photograph the objects to prove they found them, or if there is someone there willing to share a genuine shopping list, people could even buy some things for real.  A scavenger hunt for a more advanced group could be based around budgeting (meals for a family of four for a week), or food miles (whose menu is the most local).


Ask students to compare the market with markets in their own countries, or to talk about shopping and food culture in different countries.  If anyone in the class is actually purchasing, bartering may be an option, and of course map-reading and direction-giving activities could easily be done.


It's possibly less obvious, but many markets will have signs and labels that could be used for reading practice.  My local market provided material for a discussion of deliberate mis-spellings in signs (FONES UNLOCKED WHILE-U-WAIT!!!), while a butcher's stall was proudly displaying notices about the non-equine nature of their fresh meat, which led to some good topical discussion.


Names of items you see in the market is the obvious way to go here, but you could also challenge students to  describe what they see using a range of language (an absolute bargain / overpriced / really fresh / cheap and nasty / etc).

Connection with other topics or project work

I've already mentioned food miles, but a market trip could also easily link to topics on health, inequality and social issues, transport, crime, family and gender (who does the shopping?), history and changing lifestyles, ...  A business group could even assess the viability of markets as simple shopping destinations or tourist attractions, and propose regeneration or development strategies.  

Your ideas here...

Please leave comments and share your own ideas or experiences!

Images made using photos taken from by Roseli Serra, Phil Longwell, @InglesInteract, Sue Lyon Jones, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence,

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