Published: 05th December 2020
Asking for and giving directions: The best way to check one's English speaking skills
Google Maps gives voice directions and learners of English can use the voice guidance feature to become familiar with the phrases/expressions used for giving directions
Joe, a young man, wants to visit his grandma who recently moved to a new apartment complex. He contacts her over the phone and asks her, “Granny, I’ll visit you this evening. Could you tell me how to get to your unit in the apartment complex?” “Joe, it is quite easy to reach my unit. I’m in apartment 501. When you come to the front door of the complex, you’ll see a large panel at the door. With your elbow push button 501. Then I’ll buzz you in. Once the door is open, enter the lobby and go to the elevator which is on the left. Get in the elevator and with your elbow, push button 5. When you get out of the elevator, look for door number 501 on the right. With your elbow, press the doorbell.” “It all sounds easy. But, Granny, why do you ask me to press the buttons with my elbow?” “Joe, hope you aren’t coming empty-handed?” (Source: Jokebuddha.com)
The best way to test one’s English speaking skills is to check whether the person is able to give directions to a particular place clearly. The person must be able to use apt phrases and simple language. Giving effective directions is an art not everyone is good at. Everyone must have been misled by someone at some point in time and it must have been an annoying experience. In the anecdote above, the phrases in bold are useful expressions.
It is very important to be polite while asking for directions. If we are new to a place and do not know how to reach a particular place or destination, we can use the phrases/expressions below:
• Could you tell me how to get to the place?
• How far is the Adyar Metro Station? Is it within walking distance?
At times, when we are not sure whether we are going in the right direction, we can use these:
• Excuse me. Could you tell me whether I am on the right path to Express Avenue?
• Am I on the right road to the railway station?
Here are other useful expressions that we can use while asking for directions:
• Excuse me. How can I get to the airport?
• Where is the nearest post office?
• Which is the best way to Marina beach?
• Could you direct me to Madras University?
• Do you know where the City Mall is?
• How do I get to the Collector’s office?
While giving directions to someone, it is important to use familiar expressions and simple language and check with the person whether they have understood our directions clearly. The grandmother in the anecdote used phrases such as on the left, on the right, get in the elevator, get out of the elevator, etc. Here are more useful phrases/expressions:
• Go straight.
• Continue straight ahead for about 500 metres.
• Cross the traffic signal…
• Take the first turn on the right/left.
• Walk past the post office.
• Walk over the bridge.
• You’ll see the building on the right side.
• You will see the church in front of you.
• The museum is on the other side of the road.
Google Maps gives voice directions and learners of English can use the voice guidance feature to become familiar with the phrases/expressions used for giving directions.