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HELBLING READERS BLOG

HELBLING READERS BLOG

City project: your ideal neighbourhood

November 03, 2020 by Nora Nagy

City life is diverse: it can be hectic and slow, noisy and quiet, energizing and tiring. It all depends on your neighbourhood and the areas you frequently visit. We have already explored some famous cities through our readers, and we have talked about sustainable cities and the role communities have in them.

Now we have a project idea focussing on developing an ideal city neighbourhood / district. The project has been adapted for three different language levels, so you can use it in all classes from primary to young adult.

This activity can be  carried out as a longer class project in which students work both individually or in groups. It was inspired by an article called The Blueprint: # 1 in the June/July 2020 issue of Monocle magazine.

Tell your students to imagine that they are city developers with special areas of expertise. They can work individually or in pairs or groups of 3 on different aspects of developing a city district. You (or another student) are the project manager and all ideas have to be presented at a big meeting. 

Intermediate/Upper-intermediate learners

  • Project title: Our ideal neighbourhood
  • Task: Plan a district which satisfies the needs of its inhabitants.
  • Specifications: nature, culture, sport, education, medical services, recycling facilities, environmentally friendly shopping facilities, transportation and accessibility. It is important to engage the community.

Developmental key points (students can pick one or more to develop, depending on the time you have decided to set aside). Make sure they work on a wide variety of these in class.

  • Residential developments with natural materials and diverse solutions (different types of buildings)
  • The sounds of a city. Make natural sounds part of a city.
  • A central market (farmers’ market with fresh food)
  • Community gardens to grow fruits and vegetables
  • Places to relax: flower gardens, parks, running tracks, areas dedicated to sports, pools
  • Playgrounds for little and bigger ones
  • Streets and pavements: make them comfortable and green
  • Culture: a gallery or a museum. Would you like to add a theatre or a concert hall?
  • For young people: youth club/centre where young people can create art and music. etc.
  • Events with other neighbourhoods
  • Signs in the city: design logos and signs for different buildings
  • Information centres to learn about the history of the district
  • A local newspaper (print or digital)
  • Animals: what animals can live in the city? How can you make your district attractive for birds?
  • Street art: is there space for sculptures or graffiti?
  • A little library: create a space which functions as a tiny free library
  • What kind of schools will your district have? Is there a library? 
  • The main street: what kind of shops, restaurants and social areas are there in the main street or square?
  • What are the main means of transportation?
  • Health services: is there a hospital or a medical centre?
  • How will you handle recycling?

When students have worked on all or a selection of these key points, discuss the best ideas as a group. Then, create a map of the neighbourhood with a detailed description.

Extra activity

It is important to remind students that English is an official language in 51 countries over the world. Ask them to pick an English-speaking city, and then pick a neighbourhood in that city. Suggest some areas from our list and ask students to find  out as much as possible about them and create a virtual guided tour around them with photos, videos and maps. 

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York
  • Yarraville, Melbourne
  • Surry Hills or Bondi, Sydney
  • Shui Po, Hong Kong
  • Downtown, Los Angeles
  • Dennistoun, Glasgow
  • Verdun, Montreal
  • Runnymede-Bloor West Village, Toronto
  • Uptown, Chicago
  • Phibsboro, Dublin 
  • Soho or Hampstead, London
  • Devonport, Auckland

 

A map of London in World Around by Maria Cleary. © Helbling Languages

 

Elementary/Pre-intermediate learners

  • Project title: Our ideal neighbourhood
  • Task: Plan a district you would like to live in.
  • Specifications: nature, culture, sport, education, medical services, recycling facilities, environmentally friendly shopping facilities, transportation and accessibility. It is important to engage the community.

Areas to develop (students can pick one)

  • Housing solutions with natural materials
  • The sounds of a city. Make natural sounds part of a city.
  • A central market (farmers’ market with fresh food)
  • Community gardens to grow fruits and vegetables
  • Places to relax: flower gardens, parks, running tracks, sport zones, pools
  • Playgrounds for younger and older children
  • Streets and pavements: make them comfortable and green
  • Culture: a gallery or a museum. Would you like to add a theatre or a concert hall?
  • For young people: youth club/centre where young people can create art and music, etc.
  • Events with other neighbourhoods
  • Signs in the city: design logos and signs for different buildings
  • Information centres to learn about the history of the district
  • A local newspaper (print or digital)
  • Animals: what animals can live in the city? How can you make your district attractive for birds?
  • Street art: is there space for sculptures or graffiti?
  • A little library: create a space which functions as a tiny free library. For example, an old telephone box. 
  • What kind of schools will your area have? Is there a library? 
  • The main street: what kind of shops, restaurants and social areas are there in the main street or square?
  • What are the main means of transportation?
  • Health services: is there a hospital or a medical centre?
  • How will you recycle?

When students have worked on all or a selection of these key points, discuss the best ideas as a group. Then, create a map of the neighbourhood with a detailed description.

 

Young Learners

  • Project title: We want to live here
  • Task: Plan an area you would like to live in.

Set up the project by showing a big map to your students. Ask them to think about places they would like to have in the area where they live. Go through our questions below one by one, and name the places and buildings in order to develop your students' vocabulary. Young learners might need to be reminded of the functional places we need in a city. Then, ask the students to draw an area or building. They can describe its colour and size. When they are ready with these pieces, put the city together as a puzzle. Remember to add streets and pavements.

Areas to develop (students can pick one)

  • Where do people live? What colours are the houses? How big are the houses? What are they made of?
  • What sounds can you hear in the city? What sounds would you like to hear? For example, water, birds, musical instruments?
  • Where do people buy food? (shops, markets, supermarkets) 
  • Where can you play, do sports and walk with your friends and family? Plan sport zones, flower gardens, parks, running tracks, pools
  • How many playgrounds are there in this part of town?
  • What types of flowers and trees do you have in your streets?
  • Would you like to have a museum? What kind of museum? Would you like to have a theatre?
  • Animals: what animals can live in the city? How can you make your part of the city bird-friendly?
  • Street art. Do you like sculptures and graffiti in the street? Where do you want to put them?
  • How big is your library? Plan a little free library where anyone can take or leave books.
  • How many schools does your neighbourhood have?
  • What kind of shops are there in the main street or main square?
  • How do you travel? Bus? Tram? Underground? Are there cycling paths? 
  • Where do you want to put the hospital?
  • How will you recycle?

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