Geoliteracies and Place-Based Language Learning

Linguistic Landscape Activity: Noticing your Surroundings

“The language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government building combines to form the linguistic landscape of a given territory, region or urban agglomeration” Landry & Bourhis (1997)

Learning Objectives: First, let’s read the learning objectives for this activity: 1) Recognize and document your surroundings in order to interpret linguistic, cultural and social meanings of the signs and text around you; 2) Explain the meanings behind the text that you observe.

Learning Outcome: By the end of the activity, participants will be able to interpret meanings associated with each text. _________________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes we focus on the big picture rather than the small details. This activity is designed to help you to notice the details of surroundings and to help you reflect on and discover what you see and the meanings behind these things. Together, we will be examining the linguistic landscape in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  With your group, you will participate in a Linguistic Landscape walk with images (using the Padlet tool).


  • Discuss and assign group roles: note taker, photographer, padlet writer, observer
  • Your group will go outside and take a short walk around the campus and look for various signs (for example, restaurants, street signs, menus, billboards, etc.).
  • One of you will take a picture of the sign and upload it to the padlet map (see link above), using the geolocation tool. Pro tip: click on the + in the padlet to add a post.
  • Observe your surroundings and while on site, consider the questions below. Share your observations and take notes as a group. You will need your notes when you come back to the workshop room for the final step.
  • As you walk around, your group should add at least 5 images to the padlet and include the specific location, following the same steps for each image.
  • Return to the workshop room.
  • For each image, discuss the questions below and collaboratively edit your posts to add an annotation about the location, people, and text below each image on the map.  Please make sure that your annotations are focused so that the questions are addressed.
  • Be prepared to present your findings (5 min max) to the group using the Padlet and designate a group presenter. 
  • While your group is presenting, other participants will make comments to the posts and ask a couple of questions.