use pictures in class

Teaching Tips

Three ways to - use pictures in class

Pictures give students information which does not require translation. Pictures can avoid long explanations in words which students would not understand.

But pictures can also communicate incomplete information and so they also leave space for the students' imagination and creativity.
two boys laughing

  • Activity One: Heads and Feet
  • Activity Two: Building a story
  • Activity Three: Which picture am I looking at?

Bullet Point Activity One: Heads and Feet

lady by a lake Collect full length pictures of people from a clothes catalogue. Cut off the heads and mount them on small cards. Cut off the feet (and shoes) and do the same. Give a collection of cards to a group of students. Ask them to try to match the heads and feet. Ask them to try to explain the matches they have made.

He's wearing a rain hat so I think he's wearing rain shoes.
She's wearing diamond earrings so I think she's wearing smart shoes.

Bullet Point Activity Two: Building a story

Choose a picture of a person (man or woman) going to work. After discussing the picture, encourage the class to give a name to the individual. Write the name on the board and make further notes of answers to the following questions. Is he or she married? Has he or she got any children? How many? What did he or she have for breakfast? Where is he or she going? What is he or she going to do?

Gradually build up a story about the person in the picture. Let the class tell the story, sentence by sentence. Make sure all the students participate. Regularly return to the beginning of the story asking new students to retell the story.

Eventually you will have a story, created by the class, which all the students will be able to tell.
man wearing a headress

This activity is very good for building up spoken fluency and confidence. It also helps the students' creativity and their need to listen carefully to each other.


Bullet Point Activity Three: Which picture am I looking at?

I am sure your textbook contains lots of nice interesting pictures. Ask the students to take out their textbooks and pick up your own copy. Open your book at an interesting picture but do not show it to the class.

Tell the class they must find out which picture you are looking at. Tell them they can look in their own books and ask you yes/no questions. Obviously, they should not ask questions like 'Is the picture in unit 7?'

The students should be able to identify the picture in a few minutes.

Play the game a few times until students are familiar with the rules and the types of questions they can ask. Then invite the students to play the game in small groups with one student taking your role of choosing and answering questions about a picture from the textbook.

The activity is great for practising yes/no questions, building spoken fluency, and encouraging students to listen to each other.

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