5 WAYS OF USING PICTURES IN THE EFL CLASSROOM

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They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but since we’re in a language classroom why not utilise pictures to help our students speak a thousand words? Pictures are versatile resources for our classrooms which can be manipulated in many ways to best suit our purposes. Read about the many ways of using pictures in the EFL classroom.

Speech bubbles

One way of using pictures in the EFL classroom is to find a picture which has more than one character in it. Draw speech bubbles for the characters (if you find a picture with speech bubbles already, even better). Give a different picture to each pair of students. They must decide on the characters, the situation and the conversation. The conversation can be structured to include a certain vocabulary topic or grammatical item. This can be repeated for as many pictures as you like. When everyone is finished they can present their picture to the class, or stick them up around the class for everyone to browse.

Online dating

Another way of using pictures in the EFL classroom is to source pictures of different people. Try and find a range of people and look for interesting images. Give each pair of students a couple of pictures. They must decide the names, occupations, backgrounds and personality characteristics of their characters. They then mingle and compare their ideas for the characters, and they can try to decide which characters would make suitable partners for each other.

Family photos

Ask your students to bring in photos of their friends and family. To start, show the class photos of your family, describing each family member and your relationship with them in as much detail as you like. You’ll probably find your students love this activity as they are getting to know more about you. When you are finished, give them all some time to think about what they would like to say about their family and friends. This is the time to focus on any particular language you’d like them to use. Let them show their photos and describe them to each other, either as a class or in pairs or groups.

Travel album

Prepare a slide show of photos of a trip you have done or of a place you’d like to visit. Use the pictures to describe the place and the kind of holiday you have there. For example, if you show photos from last summer when you went to Thailand, you can describe the beautiful, long, white-sand beaches, the mouth-wateringly delicious food and the warm, friendly people. Use the lesson to teach any relevant language and allow the students a day or two to prepare their own presentations for the class.

Prediction

Before you tackle a reading or listening text, find a set of pictures which relate to the topic. Use these images to introduce the topic to the class before you have given them the text to get them to predict or brainstorm the topic.

Pictures are technically not an essential part of any EFL lesson but they are useful to increase interest and engagement in the classroom. It’s very easy to source pictures and there are a variety of ways they can be used so don’t forget to include them in the preparation of your lessons.

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