Andrew Luskus Andrew Luskus

The and Geographical Names
Upper Intermediate level


The goal of this lesson is to introduce the proper use of the determiner "the" in the context of geographic locations across the world. Students will utilize their receptive skills in reading for specific information from an article. Students will have the opportunity to utilize their productive skills of writing (in the context of creating an itinerary for travel), as well as speaking.


Abc Workbook Handout
Abc Whiteboard
Abc Audio CD
Abc Blank Work Paper

Main Aims

  • To provide clarification of the definitive "the" in the context of geography. The lesson plan will inform them of the appropriate use of "the" in geography, with the main aim of having them able to independently use the definitive in this context (emphasized in the final activity).

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide scan reading practice using a text about geographic locations


Warmer/Lead-in (3-3 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Continuing from the previous lesson, we will begin by examining the text about Zheng He. Talk to the students about the many places that Zheng He went. Ask the students to underline the names of all the places that he (allegedly) visited. Write on the WB two examples from the text. Write Brazil and the Atlantic, China and the Straights of Magellan. Add "Mount Everest" and "the Himalayas". Use this as the example to launch the lesson itself.

Exposure (10-12 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks through reading/listening

Try to elicit why "the" is used in front of certain locations, but not others. Write out on WB: America, Europe, China, Britain Underneath, write USA, EU, People's Republic of China and UK. Give an example, tomorrow I am taking a plane to EU. Next week, I am taking a ship to USA. Try to elicit "the" from the students, writing in "the" in front of USA, EU, UK, PRC. Reformulate sentences, I am taking a ship to THE USA, I am taking a plane to THE PRC. Write on the board "The Paris, the Tokyo, the Ankara." Elicit whether "the" is proper in this case. Write on the board "the Pacific, the Amazon, the Philippines, the Himalayas." Emphasize that "the" comes before rivers, mountains, oceans. Use Mississippi example. Write on WB: I am going to Mississippi I am going to the Mississippi. Emphasize that one is a US State, the other is the river. Determined through definite article. Write "Baikal", a lake in Russia. In English, it's just "Lake Baikal", or "Salt Lake." Explain to the students that there are several uses of "the" used incorrectly in this text, and that they have to find them and remove them. Divide sts into pairs for this exercise, and have them check their answers outside the class. Tell the students to work individually, and perform the gap fill exercise, where they must add "the" in the appropriate location. Go over the answers with the whole class.

Geography Expert Quiz Activity (7-9 minutes) • To further reinforce the use of "the" in the context of geography

Explain to the sts that you have a map of the world. Some of the places on the map are already filled in. There is a list on the top of the paper with the matches for the empty spaces, and it is the sts job to match the location to the map. Divide up the sts into pairs and hand out the maps, giving them 5 minutes to work on it (Note: Keep the map groups separate to prevent peeking). After the sts complete the map, explain to them that the other side of the room have different maps, and they have the answers. Have them speak with another pair which did the opposite map to error check.

Gap fill activity (5-5 minutes) • To get Sts to use their receptive skills to scan for the lack of "the"

Explain to the class that you have an ad for a ship tour of Spain (don't say the Mediterranean). It is an itinerary (explain the word if necessary). It is lacking "the" in front of several place names, and they must fill it in. Students will work individually, and the answers will be checked as a whole class.

Productive (Writing) Task (8-10 minutes) • To encourage students to show their knowledge of the use of determiner "the" in geography

Tell the students that you would love to travel. Follow text: "If I had the time or money, I would go to Africa. I've always wanted to see Africa, so I would fly to Ghana. After that, I would take a ship across the Atlantic to South America. I have friends in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre Brazil. I would then travel to Argentina, cross the Andes mountains to Chile, and go north to Peru and Colombia. I would then take another ship across the Gulf of Mexico, where I would land in New Orleans in the United States." Tell the students that they have performed very well. Because they are such good students, the teacher has decided to send them on an all expense paid trip around the world. They can fly, take a boat, take a train, etc. Where they go is at their discretion. Inform them that all they have to do is write an itinerary, and they can go. BUT, as this is a class trip, they must go with another student. Pair the Sts up to write their itinerary together.

Productive (Speaking) Task (10-15 minutes) • To have Sts comfortably use "the" in spoken English

Tell the students that you are very excited about their trips, and would very much like to hear their itineraries. Call each pair up to give a presentation to the class about their itinerary.

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