directions in English

How to ask for directions in an English-speaking city

If you have ever tried to find a place in an English-speaking city, then this is the blog for you! Try the exercises (A-F) and see if you then feel more confident about asking for directions in English 🙂

A) Listen to the 3 conversations 

The tapescript is at the bottom of this blog but don’t look at it yet!

  • Answer this question for each conversation – Where does the person want to go and does the other person help them?

B) Focussed listening practice

Listen again and answer the questions:

  • How far is the railway station?
  • When should she turn left?
  • Will it be difficult to find?
  • What type of museum is 10 minutes walk away?
  • What landmark is it behind?
  • Is the museum expensive?
  • Does the last speaker need to change direction?
  • How far away is the football stadium from the bridge?
  • Should she go over or under the bridge?

C) Check your answers

Check your answers with the tapescript at the bottom of this blog.

D) Useful vocabulary for asking for and giving directions in English

Now look at the phrases underlined in the tapescript. These are great English expressions to use when you are asking for or giving directions. Copy this vocabulary into your notebook.

TOP TIP! It sometimes helps to make headings and use colours in your notebook. Look at my example.

Asking for directions in English
Excuse me
Is there a/an ……..near here?
I’m looking for a/an/the……..
Sorry, did you say ….. or …..?

Giving directions in English
Turn left/right when you see…..
You can’t miss it!
Keep following this road/street until……

E) Practise your speaking

Find somebody to practise the conversations with you (a husband/wife/friend or flatmate will do). One person is stranger A and one person is stranger B – Keep practising until you can do the conversations without looking. Once it is perfect, think about your body language too and try again!

F) Practise your writing

Now think about 3 places in your town or city. Picture yourself standing somewhere and write 3 conversations giving directions in English to these places. Use my conversations as your model to help you! Good luck 🙂

Tapescript – Useful phrases are underlined 🙂 
1. Excuse me. Is there a railway station near here?
Yes, it’s about 20 minutes walk. Just go straight down this street. Turn left when you see the church. Keep going straight and then you’ll see the station on your right.
Ok, so straight, left at the church and then I’ll see it on my right.
Yep, you can’t miss it!
2. Excuse me. Are there any museums near here?
Yes, there’s a natural history museum about 10 minutes walk away. Keep following this road until you see a lake on your left.
A lake?
Yes, it’s just a small lake with a few swans. And the museum is just behind the lake. It’s a nice one and it’s free.
Oh brilliant. Thank you.
3. Excuse me. I’m looking for the football stadium? Am I going in the right direction?
Ah, no. You need to turn around and go back the way you came. When you get to the end of the street, turn left. Then there’s a little bridge, go over that. And it’s another 5 minutes walk from there. You’ll  find it, it’s not far.
Sorry, did you say over or under the bridge?
Over the bridge and then straight on.
Ok, thank you so much!

Question for you: Have you ever been lost in an English-speaking city? I’d love to hear about your experience – leave me a comment in the section below! 🙂

By the way, once you have mastered giving directions, you might like to try recommending places!

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

8 thoughts on “How to ask for directions in an English-speaking city

  1. your exercises make me confident asking for directions in English. Thank you,

    1. That’s exactly what I was hoping for 🙂 Well done for having a go at this lesson Krueyok!

    1. Ah you’re very welcome Lan7! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  2. Beautiful conversation in which I find some English stop sounds and stress.

    1. I’m so pleased you found the conversation useful and were able to notice some pronunciation features too 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

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