Published 31st July 2017

Here’s a fun activity which can be utilised in the classroom for all ages and a range of different language structures. Describe and Draw is an activity which is exactly what it says on the box, but you’ll see that it can turn out to be a useful language learning tool.

How to implement Describe and Draw

First, let your students each choose a picture or give each student a picture. This picture should be relatively simple but incorporate a number of different elements. The picture chosen will dictate which language structure or vocabulary set will be practised.

For example, Elementary students can be given pictures of rooms of the house to practise furniture and/or prepositions of place; Pre-Intermediate students can be given pictures of people performing actions to practise the present continuous; Upper Intermediate students can be given pictures of processes to practise linking phrases.

Then, put the students into pairs and decide who is Student A and who is Student B. The students should not look at their partner’s picture. Student A then describes their picture to their partner, who must draw it as it is being described. When they have finished, they compare it to the original and see how accurate they were and why they went wrong.

Then the students swop roles and do the same with Student B’s picture.

Why you should utilise Describe and Draw

Even though this may seem like a relatively simple activity, it requires a wide range of linguistic knowledge in order to complete the task. As such it is a great activity to not only let your students consolidate a specific language structure but also utilise and practise other language that they know.

Also, even if you think your students are not very creative or are too advanced for this activity, you may be surprised at how they respond to it. When you think about it, having to follow verbal instructions adds another level of challenge to the activity – it can actually be quite difficult! Even your stronger students may be surprised at how their final illustrations differ from the original.

Doing an activity like this can be a welcome break from a regular lesson. It can feel like an Art lesson, and students usually embrace the chance to put away their coursebooks and do something a little different. This, of course, is the key to all our lessons: if our students are enjoying themselves, they pay less attention to the learning process but actually end up learning more. So get out those sketchpads and get your students drawing!