Help Police: Useful English for Officers and Tourists

Activities Information roleplay
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I once had the very scary pleasure of teaching a whole classroom full of senior police officers while I was working for YBM in Korea. I was sweating bullets as most of them remained stone-faced during the whole class. It was a good chance to get to know some people who just might save my behind if I ever got in trouble in the city.

I never got a chance to really make any connections or get out of any tickets but I have this awesome list of phrases and expressions to share with both students and teachers. I actually just taught these phases in class and I think I was able to have a few select officers do a role-play. Use this in whatever way you want.

A Class for Police and People Who Need Police


Questions tourists ask police

  • I’m lost. Can you help me find the Pacific Hotel?
  • I’m looking for the American Consulate/Embassy.
  • My luggage/suitcase was stolen. What should I do?
  • Who can we trust to exchange our money?
  • Where is the bad part of town?
  • Please help us. Our child is missing.

Questions police ask tourists

  • Which hotel are you staying at?
  • When did you lose your wallet?
  • How much money was in your purse?
  • What did the thief look like?
  • What was the man wearing?
  • Did he have a weapon?
  • Where/When did you last see your child?
  • How old is your child?
  • What was your child wearing?

Comforting a tourist in distress

  • Please stay calm. I am going to help you.
  • We will do everything we can.
  • I’ll give you a map of the city.
  • Try not to panic.
  • I can give you a ride to the hospital.
  • The ambulance is on its way.
  • Don’t worry; everything is going to be okay.

Traffic and Accidents

Pulling over drivers

  • Can I see your driver’s license and passport?
  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • How much have you had to drink?
  • How fast do you think you were going?
  • Do you know what the speed limit is?
  • Is this a rental car?
  • You were driving too fast.
  • You broke the speed limit.
  • You were driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • You’re driving the wrong way in a one-way street.
  • You were traveling too close to the car in front of you.
  • You cut off another car.
  • You didn’t obey the traffic signals.
  • You aren’t wearing your seatbelt.
  • You aren’t allowed to park here.
  • I’m going to keep your driving license and give you a ticket. You can go to the police station to pay the fine. They will give your driving license back to you.

Questions police ask an injured driver

  • Are you hurt?
  • Can you stand up/move?
  • Where does it hurt most?
  • How did the accident happen?
  • Who was at fault?
  • What did the other car look like?
  • Is there someone you want to call?
  • Don’t worry. We’ve called an ambulance.

Sample Conversation

A Korean police officer pulls over an American driver on the highway for speeding…

Police: Can I see your driver’s license, please?
Man: Ah, yeah. I think it’s in my pocket. No. Maybe my wallet. Uh. Yeah here.
Police: Do you know how fast you were driving?
Man: No, sorry. It’s a rental car. I’m not used to it.
Police: Have you been drinking tonight, Mr. Davidson?
Man: I had one or two drinks. I’m okay to drive, though. I know my limit.
Police: How long have you been in Korea?
Man: A few weeks, why?
Police: It seems you are unaware of our zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
Man: I’m not drunk. I’ll blow into a breathalyzer.
Police: In Korea, you cannot operate a vehicle after consuming any alcohol.
Man: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Police: You were also going over the speed limit, Mr. Davidson. I’m going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle and get into my car.
Man: This is crazy. But what about my car?
Police: We’ll have the rental car towed to the agency. When you’re in our country you have to respect our rules.

Crime and Punishment

A crime is a serious offense such as murder or robbery. A punishment is a penalty imposed on somebody who is convicted of a crime. A punishment could be, for example, time in prison or a fine.

Questions from lawbreakers or suspected criminals

  • Why did you pull me over?
  • Have I done something wrong?
  • Is this illegal?
  • What are my rights?
  • Can I call a lawyer?
  • Where are you taking me?
  • Can I make a phone call?

Questions police may ask a suspected criminal

  • Are you carrying any illegal drugs?
  • Do you have a weapon?
  • Does this belong to you?
  • Whose car is this?
  • Where were you at eight last night?

Informing someone of laws and police procedures

  • You are under arrest.
  • Put your hands on your head.
  • I am taking you to the police station.
  • Please get in the police car.
  • You will have to pay a fine for this.
  • I will give you a warning this time.
  • I’m going to write you a ticket.
  • We’ll tow your car to the station.
  • It is against the law to do drugs.

Types of crime TESL

Types of crime

Crime Definition
abduction/kidnapping taking a person to a secret location using force
armed robbery using a weapon to steal
arson setting fire to a place on purpose
assault hurting another person physically
attempted murder trying to kill someone (but failing)

breaking and entering

going into another person’s home or business with force
child abuse injuring a child on purpose
domestic violence a physical assault that occurs within the home
drug trafficking trading illegal drugs
drunk driving driving after having too much alcohol
fraud lying or cheating for business or monetary purposes
hijacking holding people in transit hostage (usually on a plane)
murder/homicide taking someone’s life through violence
shoplifting stealing merchandise from a store
smuggling bringing products into a country secretly and illegally
speeding driving beyond the speed limit
terrorism acts of crime against a group (political/religious) or another country
theft stealing
torture extremely cruel and unfair treatment (often towards prisoners)
vandalism damaging public or private property (for example with spray paint)
white-collar crime breaking the law in business

Punishment TEFL

Types of punishment


(example offense)

traffic ticket

(speeding, parking)

leaves marks on driving record/involves paying a fine
license suspension

(drunk driving)

driving rights are removed for a certain period of time

(hunting out of season)

pay money as punishment for minor/petty crime
house arrest

(a young offender who is waiting to go to court)

remain in one’s home for a certain period of time
community service

(a youth that steals a car for the first time)

do volunteer work such as teaching children about crime or cleaning up garbage
jail time

(a man who assaults his wife)

spend a certain amount of months or years locked away from society
life in prison

(a woman who commits homicide/ murder)

spend the rest of one’s life in prison with no chance of going back into society

Be Safe Out There

Whether you are a police officer, a victim or a criminal, I hope this class comes in handy. Good luck in class and I hope you don’t need these phrases because you are in trouble only because you are helping someone.


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