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News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

June 2009
Level ≥ Lower intermediate
Style ≥ Lesson plan
Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of English.
Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to practise English
language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: advanced and lower intermediate. These worksheets
can be downloaded free from guardianweekly.co.uk/learningenglish/. You can also find more advice for
teachers and learners on the site.

Satnav system could take wrong turn


Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Instructions
Lesson focus: reading, giving directions
Materials sheet: copies of the article, satnav image, map
Time: 55 minutes

1 Divide the class into A/B pairs and explain they are go- g The situation could be good for the Chinese/European
ing to play “20 questions”. The A students will think of a system called Galileo.
certain object and the B students will ask up to 20 yes/ Answers: a worse b report c air force d 20 e late f might
no questions to find out what it is. Go through possible g European
questions eg Is it small/expensive/electronic? Can you
find it in your kitchen/office/car? 6 mins 4 Explain to students they are now going to be satnav
voices. Give out copies of a town map. Demonstrate how
2 Ask the B students to leave the room. Pass round the to give basic satnav directions. Include phrases such as:
photo of the satnav and check the A students know what at the end of the road turn left, turn right in 200 metres,
it is. The B students return and then play 20 questions turn right onto the (road number), turn left now, bear
with their partner. Class feedback. Encourage students right, at the roundabout take the 2nd exit, in 200 metres
to say how satnav works and establish: motorist, navi- you will arrive at your destination, you have arrived at
gate, navigation, network, satellite, signal, position, system. your destination, your destination is in on the left, turn
10 mins round now. 12 mins

3 Write up the questions below and go through them as 5 Put students into pairs with a map in front of them. One
a class. Give out copies of the article. Students read and student is the “satnav” and gives directions from a spe-
choose the correct words. Class feedback. 12 mins cific place to an unknown destination. The other person
a From next year, the satnav system will get better/ listens and pushes a “car” (small object) around their map
worse. to reach the destination. The listener then gives feedback
b This new information about satnav comes from a – Did the satnav speak slowly/clearly and give good direc-
report/book. tions? Swap roles and repeat. Students nominate people
c The US air force/Congress looks after the satnav who were talented satnavs. These students demonstrate
system. their abilities. 15 mins
d The satnav network is now three/20 years old.
e A new satellite will go into space a few years late/early.
f Ordinary satnav users might/won’t have problems.
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

June 2009

Materials sheet Article: Satnav system could


take wrong turn
1 For millions of motorists who thought satnav would
stop them ever getting lost, it could soon be time to think
again.

2 The navigation technology built into many cars and


mobile phones may have problems from next year, US
experts have warned. This is because of the possible
failure of some GPS satellites.
Student tasks
Read the article and chose the correct word to use in 3 Satellites constantly orbit the planet and send signals
these sentences back that help find a person’s position on the Earth’s
a From next year, the satnav system will get better/ surface.
worse.
b This new information about satnav comes from a 4 A report says the whole system could begin to get worse,
report/book. leading to blackouts, failures and even wrong directions to
c The US air force/Congress looks after the satnav millions of users.
system.
d The satnav network is now three/20 years old. 5 The system is maintained by the US air force and the re-
port warns that a lack of money and serious management
e A new satellite will go into space a few years late/early. problems could affect some military and civilian users.

f Ordinary satnav users might/won’t have problems. 6 “It is uncertain whether the air force will be able to acquire
new satellites in time to maintain current GPS service
g The situation could be good for the Chinese/European without interruption,” said the report for the US Congress.
system called Galileo.
7 Although the air force is spending nearly $2bn to improve
Satnav Map the 20-year-old system, delays are putting the whole
system in danger.

8 The first new GPS satellite was due to launch at the begin-
ning of 2007, but it has been delayed several times and
it will now go into orbit in November this year – almost
three years late.

9 The impact on ordinary users could be serious, with mil-


lions of satnav users becoming possible victims of bad
directions or failed services. There would also be similar
difficulties for the military, which uses GPS for mapping,
reconnaissance and finding enemy targets.

10 The problems with GPS could open the door to other sat-
ellite navigation systems such as Galileo – the European
attempt to beat the US system – which starts next year.

11 Russia, India and China are also expanding their own


satellite navigation technologies.
Original article by Bobbie Johnson, rewritten by
Janet Hardy-Gould