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Tips for Writing a Product Instruction Manual

For an instruction manual to be effective, it needs to be logically organized, easy to navigate through and written in clear language. People don’t typically read an entire user manual, according to Online-Learning. It’s more likely that users will pick up a manual looking for information about one specific detail.

Know Your Audience

When you’re writing a product or service manual, the target market for the product is the audience for the user manual. Keep your language in line with the average reading level of your target audience, and limit technical lingo unless you know the main readers are likely to have knowledge of industry-related terminology. For example, a user manual for operating a computer for an average person may explain basic details about how to operate it, while a user manual for a complex computer add-on may be geared toward a user with advanced technical knowledge. Overall though, keep sentences short and simple. Focus on explaining how to use the product in a way that answers common questions about it.

Use Short Headings

Headings that are highlighted with bold lettering make it easy for users to scan through sections of the manual and find specific information. It’s best to choose one type of phrasing and use it throughout the manual, according to Microsoft. Try leading with a verb and then the details. For example, ‘Add the Headers’ and ‘Format Each Header the Same Way’ both lead with a verb and then the details, which makes it easier for users to follow the formatting and find the information needed.

Write in Active Voice

When you write a product user manual, you’re talking directly to the reader, according to Online-Learning. So, using language that skirts around a topic could be confusing to the reader. For example, if you’re trying to tell someone they need a Phillip’s head screwdriver, you would, ideally, say “You’ll need a Phillip’s head screwdriver” rather than “To complete this task properly, a Phillip’s head screwdriver may be needed.” When you make it clear who will be performing the task, it draws the reader in and makes the manual more relevant to the reader.

Adding Steps

If you’re adding a step-by-step tutorial, you should number each step and begin each step with an imperative verb, according to Microsoft. Use full sentences and avoid fragmented sentences to make sure the message is clear. Hold each step-by-step procedure to seven or less steps, if possible, and keep each step as simple as possible. If you notice step-by-step sections getting too long, see if you can break them into more than one procedure to reduce the number of steps.

When to Use Right Angle Brackets

If you’re writing a user manual for something computer related, where the user may click through a series of steps, right angle brackets may be used shorten the commands and to indicate the click pattern, as noted by Microsoft. For example, directions with right brackets may look like this: Select Dashboard > User Accounts > Register New Account.


writing instructions giving directions

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Master the Art of Finding Directions with These Step-by-Step Instructions

In today’s fast-paced world, finding directions has become an essential skill. Whether you’re planning a road trip, exploring a new city, or simply trying to navigate your way through unfamiliar territory, being able to look up directions quickly and efficiently is invaluable. Thankfully, with the advent of technology and the abundance of online mapping services, finding directions has never been easier. In this article, we will guide you through the process of looking up directions step-by-step.

Choose the Right Mapping Service

The first step in looking up directions is to choose the right mapping service. There are several popular options available, such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze. Each service has its own strengths and features, so it’s important to consider your specific needs before making a decision.

Google Maps is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive mapping services available. It offers detailed turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and even public transportation information. Apple Maps is another popular choice for iPhone users due to its seamless integration with iOS devices. Waze stands out for its community-driven approach that allows users to report accidents, hazards, and traffic jams in real-time.

Enter Your Starting Point and Destination

Once you’ve chosen a mapping service that suits your needs, it’s time to enter your starting point and destination. Most mapping services have a search bar where you can type in addresses or landmarks to specify your locations.

It’s important to be as specific as possible when entering your starting point and destination to ensure accurate results. If you’re unsure about the exact address or name of a location, you can also use general descriptions like “coffee shop near Central Park” or “hotel near Times Square.”

Review Your Route Options

After entering your starting point and destination, the mapping service will generate several route options for you to choose from. These options typically include the fastest route, shortest route, and routes that avoid tolls or highways. Take a moment to review each option and consider factors such as distance, estimated time of arrival, and any specific preferences you may have.

It’s worth noting that mapping services often take real-time traffic conditions into account when generating routes. This means that the estimated time of arrival may vary depending on current traffic congestion. If you’re in a rush or want to avoid heavy traffic areas, be sure to select the appropriate option.

Follow Turn-by-Turn Directions

Once you’ve selected your preferred route, it’s time to hit the road. Most mapping services provide turn-by-turn directions that guide you through each step of your journey. These directions are usually accompanied by voice prompts or visual cues on your device’s screen.

It’s important to pay attention to the directions and follow them closely, especially when driving in unfamiliar areas. Keep an eye out for street signs, landmarks, and other visual cues that can help you navigate through intersections and turns.

In conclusion, looking up directions has never been easier thanks to online mapping services. By choosing the right mapping service, entering your starting point and destination accurately, reviewing route options, and following turn-by-turn directions carefully, you can confidently navigate your way through any journey. So whether you’re planning a road trip or exploring a new city, these step-by-step instructions will help you master the art of finding directions effortlessly.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


writing instructions giving directions

Choose a region

Giving Directions in English

02 Dec 2019

When you’re in a country you don’t know, you can easily get lost at some point during the trip, even if you have a map. So it’s really useful to know how to ask for and understand directions in English so you can reach your destination. It’s also great to be able to give directions yourself to tourists or foreign colleagues.

So what words and phrases can help you give and ask for directions? Read on to find out!

First of all, you need to know some basic vocabulary. The most important words and phrases are:

writing instructions giving directions

It’s also helpful to know some common places people visit in a city, such as the following:

writing instructions giving directions

Here are some examples:

  •   Go along the street until you reach the traffic lights.
  • You’ll see a bank on the left.
  • It’s about two blocks from here.
  • I prefer going to the airport on the highway because it’s faster.

 Some prepositions and adverbs can also help when you’re giving directions:

writing instructions giving directions

For example,

  •   My office building is in front of the mall.
  • Go straight on for about one kilometre.
  • The cinema is next to the bank.

Asking for directions

When you ask for directions, remember above all to be polite. So start by saying one of the following phrases:

  •   Hello. Can you help me, please?
  • Good morning. May I ask for some help?
  • Excuse me, could you help?

 Once you have someone’s attention, you can ask for help to reach your destination. You can do that by using one of these phrases:

  •   Could you tell me how to get to the bank?
  • Do you know where the museum is?
  • We can’t find the subway station. Is it near here?
  • Where can we find a park near here?

 If you’re not sure you’re going in the right direction, you can make sure by asking:

  •   Are we on the right road to the city center?
  • Is this the right way to the mall?
  • What’s the best way to get to the airport?

Giving directions

In the same way that you need to ask directions when you travel abroad, foreigners visiting your city might ask you directions, and what better way to practice English than to help them? 🙂

Here are some common phrases you can use:

  • Go past the cinema. (Pass the cinema.)
  • Go along this road.
  • Go straight on/ahead. (Stay on this road – don’t turn.)
  • Go through the tunnel.
  • At the roundabout, take the first exit.
  • Turn left at the crossroads.
  • Take the second right.
  • It’s on your left.
  • You’ll see it in front of you.
  • It’s on the other side of the road.
  • You’re going the wrong way.

If you travel abroad for work or pleasure, knowing how to ask and understand directions is really important. 

The best way to learn directions is to do a proper English course that gives you the chance to practice in a controlled environment with guidance and feedback. At Wall Street English you can learn how to give and understand directions through fun interactive activities and by practicing in small classes led by native teachers.

Do this short quiz to find out what level you are and start learning now!

This post has been adapted and translated from the original content by  WSE Argentina  here:  Aprendé a pedir y a dar direcciones en inglés

Do you want to learn English but find you never have enough time? Find out more about the flexibility of the Wall Street English method in our blog.

Do you want to know how to teach adverbs of frequency? Read on to find out our top tips!

Get in touch

Ready to chat to a member of the Wall Street English team? We’re here to help you.

English for Kids. FREE playlearning™ content curated by the Lingokids educators team.

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Free Playlearning™ content curated by the Lingokids educators team.

writing instructions giving directions

Giving Directions

Teaching kids how to give and ask for directions not only boosts their situational awareness but also enhances their vocabulary and communication skills. in this guide, you'll find valuable information, along with games and activities to make learning this topic engaging and effective for your children..

writing instructions giving directions

One of the main goals in parenting is to help the little ones become independent . Such a task is not easy to manage, but teaching them about giving and asking for directions puts the parents one step closer to reaching that goal. With this, they get to know how to move around thus becoming more confident about themselves.

When learning how to give directions to a location , kids also practice some valuable skills such as how to navigate the town and, of course, city vocabulary . It’s important to take baby steps while teaching this topic, starting first with moving left or right , or up and down .

After this is advisable to talk about directions vocabulary such as roundabouts or sidewalks , and common expressions for giving and asking for directions in English like “turn left” or “go straight”. By doing this they’ll be able to start making more precise sentences to communicate their thoughts.

Here you’ll find information related to this topic, and also useful phrases to give and ask for directions . Remember to practice the prepositions , which are also used when giving directions in English.

Giving directions in English

Go straight - Giving Directions

go straight

Go straight on Main Street.

Turn left -Giving Directions

Turn left at the supermarket.

Turn right - Giving Directions

Turn right on the next corner.

Go past - Giving Directions

Go past the cinema and you’ll find the library.

Cross - Giving Directions

If you cross the street, you’ll find a bookstore there!

Go along the main road until you find the gas station.

around the corner

The museum is just around the corner.

You can find the coffee shop between the office building and the movie theater.

There’s a nice park behind the parking lot.

turn back / go back

If you get to the bridge, you went too far, you’ll have to turn back.

Go down the hill and you’ll find the entrance to the park.

To get to the building, you have to go over the walkway.

Take a shortcut to the school going through the park.

Go up the hill and you’ll find the bus stop.

in front of

The market is in front of the City Hall.

My school is beside a small park.

I live near the forest.

Asking for directions in English❓

Excuse me, where is the…?

Excuse me, how do I get to…?

Excuse me, is there a ______ near here?

How do I get to…?

What’s the way to…?

Where is _____ located?

Directions Vocabulary

Roundabout -Giving Directions

zebra crossing

Traffic lights - Giving Directions

traffic lights




country road


Giving Directions Printable Flashcards ️

Flashcards: giving directions

To further practice the vocabulary for giving directions, remember to check the names of places in town and also the different parts of a building . Let’s keep learning!

Let’s Play and Think Critically!

Elliot needs our help collecting all his camp supplies for LingoCamp! Can your little ones help him think logically and give him the right directions so that he can make his way to the supplies?

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How to Give Directions

Last Updated: August 17, 2023

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . Christopher Osborne has been a wikiHow Content Creator since 2015. He is also a historian who holds a PhD from The University of Notre Dame and has taught at universities in and around Pittsburgh, PA. His scholarly publications and presentations focus on his research interests in early American history, but Chris also enjoys the challenges and rewards of writing wikiHow articles on a wide range of subjects. This article has been viewed 506,022 times. Learn more...

Whether you’re telling someone how to get to your house or guiding a stranger to a local museum, you should know how to give good directions. Giving directions, though, is more complicated than just telling someone how to get to a certain location. To give good directions, you need to present the information in the way that’s best suited to how the other person processes information. For instance, some people do better with specific mileages, while others understand rough drive times best. You also have to communicate effectively and pick the most appropriate route in order to help the person stay on track and reach their destination.

Guiding Them By Landmarks and Drive Times

Step 1 Picture yourself going along the route with them.

  • Instead of directing them from beginning to end, think of it as directing them from landmark to landmark.

Step 2 Tell the person about important and hard-to-miss landmarks.

  • So, for instance: “Go this way for a couple minutes until the old post office with the big metal dome is on your left; then turn left and go for about 5 minutes until you see a McDonald’s and Wendy’s right across from each other…”
  • Some landmarks to point out include: historic buildings, signs, or monuments; churches, synagogues, or other religious buildings; large businesses like a box store or car dealership; geographical/environmental features like hills or rivers; roadway characteristics like a bridge or a fork in the road.

Step 3 Specify whether something is on the left or right of the road.

  • Make it “look on your left for the gas station with the tiger statue above the sign,” not just “turn when you get to the gas station with the tiger statue.”

Step 4 Provide travel time estimates for the whole trip and each component of it.

  • Let the person know that if they’re traveling the speed limit, they should be able to arrive at their destination in a certain amount of time.
  • If they’ll have to make some turns, tell them how long they’ll be on specific roads before they should turn.
  • For example: “The whole trip takes about 10 minutes. You’ll turn left here and go for about 3 minutes until…”

Mapping Out Distances and Compass Directions

Step 1 Create a mental map of the route, and share it.

  • In this case, your directions will sound like the following: “Drive north on Hamilton for a little over 3 miles (4.8 km), then head east on Church Street…”

Step 2 Specify distance from point to point.

  • City blocks and highway exits are also an acceptable unit of distance to use, even though the exact distance between them varies: “Go two blocks north, then get on the freeway and head west to the fourth exit…”
  • A rough estimate is better than not giving any sense of the distance from one point to another.

Step 3 Refer to the cardinal directions.

  • So: “Turn right at the the light onto 5th street and go south for half a mile, then merge onto route 35 South…”

Step 4 Draw a map.

  • The rudimentary map doesn’t need to be to scale, but you should write in general mileages and use a general map orientation (that is, with north to the top).

Choosing the Right Route to Describe

Step 1 Explain the route based on where the person is coming from.

  • This isn’t an issue if a stranger stops you on the street, but it is important to know whether your mother-in-law will be leaving from her house or her office in the next town over.

Step 2 Give the simplest route.

  • Favor routes with less turns, even if they take a bit longer.
  • Focus on routes where the person can stay on one road for a long time.
  • Pick routes that avoid confusing intersections, roundabouts, or bypasses.

Step 3 Share the safest route.

  • The winding back road may save you five minutes versus using the highway, but you’ve driven that road many times and know all the curves and twists — and they don’t.

Step 4 Don’t suggest routes you haven’t taken.

  • Skip “Well, my buddy goes this way…” and stick with “I’ve gone this way many times, even if it takes a few minutes longer…”

Step 5 Warn the person about confusing parts of the route.

  • Roads that merge with little notice
  • Turns that are very slight
  • Roundabouts

Communicating Effectively

Step 1 Speak slowly and clearly.

  • Even if all locals know the highway as the “Parkway East,” refer to it as “I-376 East,” which is what the road signs read.

Step 3 Don’t assume the person knows anything about the area.

  • Avoid things like “Remember where Joe’s old house was? You’ll turn right after that” and go with “You’ll turn right at the stoplight onto 11th Street, which comes about half a block past where Joe used to live.”

Step 4 Ask the person if they have any questions.

  • If they seem to be struggling with the directions you’ve given in “route perspective” form, consider trying “survey perspective” instead — that is, replacing visual landmarks with mileages and north, south, etc.

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About This Article

Christopher M. Osborne, PhD

If you need to give someone directions, point out hard-to-miss landmarks in your directions, like bridges, large businesses, churches or synagogues, or anything else which will stand out during the trip. Specify whether landmarks or turns are on the left or right side of the road, and try to give the person an estimate of how far or how long they’ll have to travel before their next turn or destination. To learn how to draw a map for the person you’re giving directions to, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  • A2 listening

Giving directions

Do the preparation exercise before you listen. Then, look at the map and listen to the directions while you do the other exercises.


Do the preparation exercise before you listen. Then do the other exercises to check your understanding.


Do this exercise before you listen.

writing instructions giving directions

A Go straight on. Then take the first left on to Green Street. Walk past the library and it’s the building next to the library on the left.

B Go straight on. Go past the traffic lights. You will see a shop on the right. Go past that and it’s on the right next to the shop.

C Go straight on. Go past the traffic lights and go straight on until you get to the roundabout. At the roundabout turn left. Go past the theatre. It’s the building next to the theatre, opposite the hospital.

D Go straight on. Go past the traffic lights and take the second right on to King’s Road. Go past the bookshop. It’s the building next to the bookshop opposite the café.

Check your understanding: gap fill typing

Check your understanding: gap fill, worksheets and downloads.

What do you do when you get lost in a town or city?

writing instructions giving directions

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How to Give Directions

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Questions you may hear How do I get to Main Street ? Where is the closest gas station ? Can you tell me where the community centre is? I’m looking for Jane Street. Are you from around here?

If you know the way… Use basic English to offer directions. Short phrases are best. Speak slowly and use very careful pronunciation. Spell out a word if necessary.

The easiest way is to… The quickest way is to… The best way is to…

go + direction (right, left, down, up, through) take + road name turn + right/left stay on + road name for + distance or time

Examples: The easiest way is to go right on Commercial Avenue . The quickest way is to take Road Number 1 . The best way is to turn right on Main Street . Stay on Route 1 for about ten minutes .

Use transitions Separate each leg of the route with a transition.

after that then next when you get to…go… finally

Offer “Ballpark Figures” (rough estimates of time or length of travel) Some people feel better knowing how long it will take to get from A to B.

It’s just around the corner (not far). It’s not far. It’s a bit of a way. (it takes a while) It’s about a five minute walk. It’s about a twenty minute bus ride.

Use landmarks Tell the person what to watch for.

You will see a large clock on the right. You will pass a gas station. It’s across from the blue church.

More useful language It’s on + street name It’s across from It’s opposite It’s near It’s around the corner from

Offer warnings Stay in the right lane. It’s a very busy road. It’s a big hill. (if they are walking or on a bike) There might be construction. If you pass the … you went too far. There’s no parking .

Repeat yourself If YOU repeat the directions again, the other person will feel more confident. Repeat important details including street names and turns. You can also ask the other person to repeat the directions back to you.

If you are in the car with the driver… Give a lot of warning.

Turn right at the next street Get in the left lane. Go one more block. Then turn right. At the next traffic lights turn… It’s going to be on your right.

Clarify Make sure that the other person understood your directions. Say: “ Did you get all that? ”

If you don’t know the way… Don’t guess! Don’t just shake your head and walk away. Use one of these phrases:

I’m sorry, I’m not from here. I’m afraid I can’t help you. Sorry I don’t know my way around here.

Offer another solution You could ask the bus driver. Ask the front desk clerk. Follow me. I’ll show you the way. Do you want me to draw you a map?

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.” (Alice in Wonderland)

You may also like:

  • Air Rage Is Common in China
  • Discuss: Where would you go?
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Giving Directions on the Street in English

How to give and understand directions in English

Learn to give and ask for directions in English in an easy, fun way. Enroll in ABA English’s free course to master useful English expressions and much more and join our more than 30 million students.

Giving Directions on the Street in English

In today’s world, full of technology, GPS, and digital maps, everything seems easier. Wherever we may find ourselves in the world at any moment of the day, we can activate our devices to find the correct address. Those times when you would assess the passers-by with the hope of identifying the right person to ask for directions. seem to be almost forgotten. That person who looked as if they knew everything about the area, a local resident who gave off an air of reliability and availability was the one you were looking for.

Are those times over? The answer is no. Even today, we can often find ourselves lost in an unknown city asking for directions. It is also increasingly common for tourists to stop us on the street because they are looking for a restaurant or archaeological site. After all, it is possible for your phone to stop working or for the battery to run out earlier than expected. Then there are those who prefer to talk to passers-by, partly because they do not like technology and partly because they prefer human contact. For those that want to learn English, asking for and giving directions is an excellent way to practice the language.

To give or receive directions correctly, however, it is very important to understand what we are being told and what to say in response. Otherwise, we can risk sending an unfortunate tourist one kilometre to the west when they were looking for a pub that is twenty metres to the east. That is why we have decided to offer you this small guide so that you can become an experienced “road sign” and can understand any instruction given by others in English.


Come and learn English with the biggest digital English academy in the world

How to ask for directions on the street.

You are in Trafalgar Square and have just visited the National Gallery . How will you get to your next monument on foot? And if you found yourself under the hot Miami sun and could not find your way to the nearest beach?

First and foremost, after having identified your guide, you should be friendly and greet them in a pleasant way.

Excuse me, madam / sir.

Hello, I am lost. Could you help me, please?

Directions to a Specific Place

Once you have greeted the other person, you can ask them for what you need. Try these phrases.

I’m lost. Can you help me?

Where can I find the main street, please?

What is the best way to the post office?

How do I get to the beach from here?

How to Get to the Metro Station

Where is the nearest tube station? ( in London )

Where is the nearest subway station? ( in the US )

Directions at the Bus Stop

Does the number 33 bus stop outside the train station?

How often does the airport bus pass?

At which stop do I need to get off to reach the science museum?

How to Give Directions on the Street

Turn left / right. Make a left / right.

Take a left / right.

Go straight. //  Carry straight on. //  Continue straight ahead.

Go north / south / east / west. //  Head north / south / east / west.

Walk down this avenue.

Walk up to the next junction.

It’s around the corner.

It’s across the street. //  It’s on the other side of the street.

It’s two blocks away.

It’s too far to walk.

You need to take a taxi or catch the bus.

You should go by metro.

Follow the signs to the airport.

It’s well signposted.

Take Exit 55.

It’s a five-minute drive.

It’s about a mile away.

It’s about a kilometer away.

Turn around.

You’re going the wrong way!

Make a U-turn.

Could you show me on the map how to get to the British Museum from here, please?

This useful selection of phrases is part of the materials for the classes offered by the Teachers at ABA English. Currently, ABA English has a record 17 million students. Why don’t you try it as well? We offer 144 free video classes and the same number of short films, in addition to the classes offered by our teachers on our Facebook page..

Do you know what your English level is? Take a test now.

Sign up on our page and take the level test for free. You’ll find out your level in just a few minutes to help you continue progressing through the course.

Giving Directions on the Street in English

Question words to give or ask for directions in English

Besides the previously mentioned examples, here are a list of the question words most commonly used to ask for directions in English, with examples that can be very useful: 

Besides the previously mentioned examples, here are a list of the question words most commonly used to ask for directions in English, with examples that can be very useful:

Exercises to Practice Directions in English

Here we’ll give you some practical exercises that will help you integrate the use of these expressions in English. These will surely help you in the future.

A. Connect the first part of the sentence to ts continuation so it has a meaning

Answers: a.4, b.5, c.3, d.1, e.2, f.7, g.6  

B. Fill in the blanks with the following words. There may be multiple possible answers.

Carry straight on / Go north / Around the corner / Junction / Too far to walk / Make a right / Walking down that avenue / Make a left / Two blocks left / Continue straight ahead

Hello, I think it’s _________, here’s what I would do. From the supermarket you _______ until you find the post station, where you have to ________ and keep _____________. You will find the library, and you have to __________ towards the next ______. There, you are going to see the subway sign. You should exit at the next stop, and then you need to _________ and ____________ up until the end of the street. There, you will only have ____________, you are going to see a pharmacy, and it’s going to be just __________. 

Answers: too far to walk, carry straight on, make a left, walking down that avenue, make a right, junction, go north, continue straight ahead, two blocks left, around the corner

Giving Directions on the Street in English

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Giving Directions on the Street in English


Writing Step by Step Directions

The magic keys to writing directions, writing step by step directions: multiple intelligence connections, writing step by step directions: quick and easy lesson plans for writing directions.

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A Guide to Giving Clear Instructions to Students (That They Will Actually Follow)

writing instructions giving directions

by Nancy Barile, Award-Winning Teacher, M.A.Ed.

A young boy in a blue shirt shrugs his shoulders.

Shrugs and confusion can often be avoided with better instructions.

Teachers are sometimes surprised to discover just how much giving clear instructions to students can affect students' success in the classroom. When given effective directions, students can engage with the material more effectively and ultimately have more productive experiences.

There are several steps teachers can take to ensure that their students understand instructions and are able to complete assignments with ease.

1. Use Clear and Precise Language

Thirty-three years ago,  Chilcoat and Stahl  wrote the definitive framework for giving clear directions. They advised using short, complete sentences and precise, concrete terms so that students will be able to understand what's expected of them. They also suggested using nouns instead of pronouns—especially when teaching younger students—and avoiding vague terms such as "some," "a few," or "a couple."

Further Reading:  A 'how to' for aspiring teachers.

Teachers should also clearly articulate the expectations of the assignment or task. Explaining what students have to do, how they have to do it, and when they have to complete it by can help them understand—and follow—your directions. Providing a strong, detailed rubric with the assignment can also make both the teacher's and the student's job clearer and easier.

2. Repeat Your Directions

We assume that our students listen when we speak—but anyone who has been teaching for more than five minutes knows this isn't always the case. A teacher might give directions and find that their students haven't been paying attention, or that the students only half-grasped the instructions. A quick look around the room, some redirection, and some repetition can ensure that every student is focused and understands what they need to do. I often write assignment directions on the board, on the assignment sheet, and in our computer platform so that students can refer to them as they work.

writing instructions giving directions

3. Explain the Purpose of the Task

When you explain to students why they're being asked to complete an assignment, they're more able to appreciate the experience. Connecting the task to existing student knowledge, previous lessons, or covered material will help students feel more confident about tackling the task.

4. Make Sure Your Students Understand

After giving them directions, ask your students to repeat or rephrase what's expected of them. Ask them specific questions about the requirements. Clarify any confusing points. Provide students with feedback that can help them comprehend and complete the task.

5. Use an Appropriate Tone

It's not just what you say; it's also how you say it. Don't yell, mumble, or castigate. Ensure the pace of information is appropriate for grade level and ability. Don't rush or move too slowly. Pause frequently to give students time to digest the information.

6. Describe the Specifics

If the assignment requires specific materials or a particular format, be sure to let students know. In my class, for example, every question must be answered in a complete sentence, and one-sentence responses are usually not sufficient to answer a question. Creating and clearly explaining such specifics sets your students up for success.

7. Provide Examples

In 1965 (but I remember it like it was yesterday), my first grade teacher had us create an alphabet booklet. I was excited about the assignment and worked hard on it every day for a week. After I handed it in, I realized that many of the students had created clever covers for their booklets. Because I didn't have an example to mirror, I didn't include a cover, and my pride in my work quickly faded.

That I remember this lesson nearly 55 years later underscores the importance of using examples when giving instructions. As a teacher today, I almost always provide my students with examples of outstanding work from previous years, and as a result, students clearly understand my expectations. Doing so has also helped me  build better relationships  with my students.

8. Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks

If an assignment is large or multifaceted, section it into smaller tasks, especially if you teach younger students who can't handle a long list of directions. Breaking assignments into manageable tasks can help students feel more confident in their work.

Further Reading:  5 Active Listening Strategies That Work

Giving clear instructions to students can ensure that they fully comprehend what they need to do to achieve in your classroom. It will ease students' nerves, assuage their insecurities, and help them confirm your expectations so that they can be happy and successful in school.


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Nancy Barile author photo

Nancy Barile is a National Board Certified Teacher, who has been teaching English Language Arts at a low-income, urban high school near Boston, MA for 22 years. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. Nancy was a Top 50 Finalist for the Varkey Global Teacher Prize 2015. She is the 2013 recipient of the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award and the 2013 Boston Red Sox Most Valuable Educator Award. She was also awarded the 2011 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award in Creative Leadership, and in 2007 was named a member of the 2007 USA Today All-Teacher Team. She holds a B.A. in Behavioral Science, a Masters in Education, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Education Leadership. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Scholastic, Inc., the College Board, the Center for Teaching Quality, and Education Week.


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