10. Staycation

Zemplén, Hungary by devenyipisti

Welcome to our 10th task 🙂

If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford a holiday this summer, chances are it will be a “staycation” – a trip to some part of your own country. I’m lucky to live in a country that, while fairly small, has a lot to offer the local tourist. I’m also a creature of habit, though, and holidays at home invariably involve travelling to Lake Balaton, “A Magyar Tenger”, the resort-speckled “Hungarian Sea” that stretches for 80 kms in the west of the country. I decided, then, to ask our good friend Anna Csíky for advice regarding spending a few days in a part of Hungary I was less familiar with.

This is the basis for the task – presenting and evaluating novel staycation options to classmates (or an imagined resident). As you will see from the video below, we recommend screensharing google maps to support the presentation. This can make a big difference to the “feel” of the task, as it provides a really useful, tangible focal point for the presentation.


  • Introduce the idea of a staycation – with pre-intermediate or higher level learners you can ask them to guess the meaning of the word, giving some contextual clues e.g. this summer, holidays, not being able to travel.
  • In pairs / groups in rooms ask students to agree on the 5-10 most common places to holiday in their countries. Feedback on this – pool the ideas on the whiteboard or in the chat.
  • Looking at the pooled destinations, ask if these are all places the students know well: do they spend time there quite often? Find out if there are places in the country they think are less well-known. Elicit and add these to the list.
  • Play the sample task. Orientate the learners to it: this is a discussion between Anna and Neil regarding a staycation in Hungary. Neil has asked Anna to recommend somewhere he does not know that well – a trip for a few days with his family (Katy, his wife, and Alex and Leo, their two teenage sons). Share the Youtube clip on your screen, having set a content-focused task e.g. listen to Anna’s ideas – would you like to visit Zemplén? Why, why not?
  • (Tip: play this full screen in Youtube)
  • You can feedback on this in open class or briefly in rooms if you have time. Then let the students know they will be planning a similar suggested staycation, also using Google maps, in their own country.

Task 1 – determining the audience (optional):

We reach a point now where the choice of who the presentation is for will vary depending what works best for your context. The worksheet above can be used as is, or adapted, to help focus this. I suggest three main options, with corresponding procedures:

a) students prepare a staycation for you, the teacher, assuming they will be motivated to do so, and assuming there is a sufficient information gap here i.e. they can think of places you are not familiar with.

b) Students prepare a staycation for other class members, if they can verify there is a part of the country they know well that their potential audience knows less well.

For a) and b):

  1. Put students in pairs or small groups. They should interview another pair / group, who will be their clients for the staycation. Ask them to take turns to find out more from these clients in order to prepare the best, most suitable staycation.
  2. They should interview their audience to find out what they know about the country, their interests and other details.

c) Students prepare a staycation based on a fictional resident family who arrived in the country fairly recently. This option is more contrived, but may work well with creative students. The procedure directly below is for this option. If you decide not to take this option, you can move straight to the main task.

For c):

  1. Ask students in pairs or groups to create a profile of an individual or family resident in their country. They are unable to travel abroad this summer and so would like to spend X days in a certain part of the country. You can ask them to use the worksheet linked above to help with this.
  2. They should then swap their profiles with another pair or group. This is now the target audience for their proposed staycation.
Using Maps to help focus the presentation

Main Task – planning and presenting the staycation:

  • Students should now prepare their suggested staycation based on the target audience established above (or, if this stage is skipped, for a “general” audience). The goal will be to evaluate how suitable the plan seems for the target audience and / or to choose the staycation plans they like the most. Remind them they will be presenting this.
  • I suggest students work on this collaboratively, in pairs or groups of three or four. Much of the task time will be spent researching and preparing the staycation itinerary.
  • Draw attention to the worksheet linked above. This can help to structure the presentation – naturally, feel free to adapt it for your group and lesson e.g. the number of days.
  • Ask students to find the region / town / village they have selected for their target audience on Google maps. Ask them to use this in conjunction with the prompts as a basis for the presentation. Given they will be sharing screens when they present, it may be wise for them to take notes using pen and paper based in response to the worksheet prompts – this will make it easier to refer to their preparation during the presentation stage.
  • Put the groups in rooms. Give them a decent amount of time to research places and plans (e.g. 10-20 minutes, though how long will depend on how much time you have and how specific and detailed you want them to be – I usually suggest the length of the presentation be between three and five minutes; you can also set parameters re: the length of the staycation e.g. 4 days, 3 nights).
  • Monitor the rooms, helping with language they need and checking they are drawing up a coherent itinerary. If a group finishes early, encourage them to find more details online regarding their suggestions e.g. associated costs for entry to museums etc.
  • When you and the learners are satisfied they have a concrete, interesting itinerary based on the prompts, it is time to present and evaluate the staycations. The interaction and precise goal here will vary depending on your group and how you have set it up e.g.
  • a) students present their plans for the teacher – as well as the teacher evaluating, groups can choose their favourite plan from the others;
  • b) students present to the other group they designed the staycation for – the group evaluates, saying what they like more / less about the plan, what they would change etc;
  • c) students listen to other groups present the itinerary for the imaginary resident and select their favourite staycation plan.

Language Focus:

Grammar / Functions

Modals and semi-modals for making suggestions e.g. they / you should stay in a panzio; they / you need to rent a car; you might want to visit…; you’ve got to go to / mustn’t miss…; I would visit the castle on day 2.

Language for agreeing, disagreeing and responding to opinions, during and when evaluating the presentation e.g. great idea; I think it would be better to..; I thought X was a really good idea; I’m not so sure about…

Making comparisons e.g. staying in a campsite would be cheaper; visiting an adventure park is more interesting for children; X is the best / quietest / most beautiful / least touristy part of the country.

Lexis / Discourse

Language for sequencing events, time adverbials e.g. on the morning of day one….the next day….before you leave….

Vocabulary to describe relevant activities, depending on the location e.g. go on an excursion, visit the castle / lake / viewing tower; relax by the lake / at the beach.

Vocabulary to describe travel and accommodation e.g. get there by train; rent a car / bike; stay at a campsite; book a hotel room; check on booking.com.

Variations and Extension: 

  • Regarding the sample on Youtube – there is no reason to assume your learners would be interested in the staycation options of a random person in another country! Use this example to inspire you to create your own sample, one that is more relevant to your learners.
  • Go into more depth regarding the details of the trip – if you have the time and your learners have the inclination, you can actually require a more detailed itinerary. This can include selecting a number of activities that logically fit into a single day, or even establishing costs (using booking.com and the links on maps to help price accommodation, meals, transport and visits to museums etc.).
  • With multilingual groups, learners can pitch a trip within their own country – not so much a staycation as a possible future plan. They can then present these and to different pairs, with the goal of selecting the trip they would most like to do.