There may be rare occasions when a hotel employee has the opportunity to give instructions to a guest on how to do something or explain a situation or process. For example, a health center staff may have to provide instruction on how to operate a piece of equipment, or a business center staff may have to explain to a guest how to operate a copier or FAX machine, or a front desk staff may explain to a guest the process needed to extend a visa. When asking for instructions or giving explanations there are several standard expressions that can be used. Look at these examples.

How do you operate ( … this tread mill)?
Can you show me how to ( …operate this FAX machine)?
What’s the best way to (…hold a putter)?
Do you know how to (… get a visa extended)?
How do I go about (… changing my departure flight)?

When giving instructions or explaining things it is useful to use sequence markers, words which guide the listener or reader through the instructions. It is also important to keep the instructions or explanations short and simple. Some of the more common sequence markers are listed below.

first second third forth
after that next before that then
you begin by the last step is now finally

Dialogue- Giving Instructions

Guest: How do you operate this tread mill?
Staff: First, turn it on then set the controls for speed, distance, or time. Last, press the start button.

Guest: Can you show me how to hold the putter?
Staff: First, grasp the club with your left hand. Your thumb should be pointing down and parallel to the shaft. Next, put your right hand below your left hand, with your right pinkie finger touching your left index finger. Grip the shaft by placing the palm of your right hand over your left thumb. Your right thumb should also be pointing down and parallel to the shaft.

Guest: Do you know how to make a paper kite?
Staff: Sure, first, get two thin strips of light weight balsa wood, one three feet long and one two feet long. Next, join the strips together forming a T-shape. After that, run twine from each end of the wooden strips, forming a diamond shape. Then, glue large sheets of paper onto the twine and wooden strips, so the diamond shape is covered with paper. Last, attach a long piece of string to the kite, where the two strips of wood cross to form the T.

Guest: How do I send a FAX?
Staff: First, put the paper into the feeder. Then, enter the phone number it is being sent to. Finally, hit send.

Practice Activities for giving instructions
Remember that one of the best was to improve your English skills is to use the language over and over again. It may sound boring and tedious but it works to make the language readily accessible for use when needed.

1. Role play

Practice giving instructions by role playing the situations below. One person take the role of a hotel guest and another a guest. Use some of the phrases and expressions above. For additional practice switch roles.

The guest asks how to change a flight to the following day
The guest asks how to extend his visa
The guest asks how to play a Thai game
The guest asks how to send a FAX
The guest asks how to open a bank account

2. Group Activity- Appropriate Responses

Divide the class into groups. The teams work together to formulate a response to the items listed below. After discussion, one of the team members presents the response to the class. The teacher judges which team presents the best answer based on grammar and language use and pronunciation.

3. Play a native card game
What the duties and responsibilities of the staff are
Some social do’s and don’t’s of your country
The political structure of your country
Basic traffic safety rules on your country

Game- Giving Instructions

Get into groups of three or four. One person selects a question and asks it to the person on their right. If they answer correctly without help, they get 3 points. If they need help from others in the group (with vocabulary, correct grammar, etc), they get 1 point. If they can not answer, they get 0 points. The other team members decide the points received. The next person in the group plays by selecting a question and asking the person on their right. Play until all the questions have been answered. The person with the most points wins!


Work Sheets for giving instructions

Other Links
Asking for Instructions