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Complete the map (Nation, 1995, 2000)

Students each complete their own incomplete map by talking to each other.


Any one of the following:

  • to learn new language items (especially geographical features)
  • to build fluency with previously studied language items
  • to practise communication strategies


Draw or copy a map or plan (for example, a local area or school or marae plan).

Blank out some different information on different copies of the map to make versions that have different parts missing or different labels missing. Each map will then contain information that the other maps do not show (for example, some of the towns named on one copy and the others named on another copy). All maps must have a few items that are the same. You need as many different versions of the map as members in the group, which may be from two to around six. Label each version A, B, etc, and/or print on different coloured paper to distinguish the different versions.

Give each learner in the pair or group a different incomplete version of the map or plan so that each learner has a copy of the same map but with different things marked and labelled.

Ask students to combine their information to make a complete map without looking at each other’s maps. Students take turns to describe their map so that the others can draw in the missing details on their maps. That is, students keep their map hidden while describing what is on it. They then draw what the others describe.

When they have all described their own map and drawn what the others have described, they can then compare maps to check they have the same.

Teacher considerations

Simple hand-drawn maps are adequate for this activity. Once students have experienced this task, they may want to produce their own maps.

Maps of local areas or a plan of a marae can make this relevant.

Make sure that students are aware that some things are the same and some are different. They should try to find something that is the same first. If they are having trouble getting started, the teacher can give a hint by telling them where to start (that is, naming an object that is the same on each, for example, “Start at the church”).

See also general teacher considerations on the main page of Combining tasks.


Use this technique to introduce specific vocabulary (for example, school or household objects). To do this, each student has some words written on their worksheet to communicate to the others.

Use this technique to practise known or recently introduced vocabulary (for example, use a map showing geographical features you have taught the language for such as maunga, awa, etc).

Focus students’ attention on communication strategies needed in this task by preteaching phrases like “Could you repeat that?” and “Did you say…?”.

Give each student a map that is already complete and ask students to take turns giving each other directions to a place, without telling their partner what the place is or looking at each other’s maps. Students then check whether they have both arrived at the same place. Or use this variation as a follow-up to “Complete the map”.

See also variations on the main page of Combining tasks.


Maps are suggested text types at levels 3, 5 and 6 of the Māori language curriculum guidelines, Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori- Kura Auraki.

Examples in Māori


Evaluation of the task

See evaluation on main page of Combining tasks.


  • Nation, I. S. P. (1995). Teaching Listening and Speaking. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 14 (p. 129).
  • Nation, I. S. P. (2000). Creating, Adapting and Using Language Teaching Techniques. English Language Institute Occasional Publication No. 20 (p. 16).

See also

  • Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Learning: Teaching Second Language Learners in the Mainstream Classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. (pp. 108–109).

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