Using images in class

When I bought a tablet PC (oh my, I don’t know how I had lived before!), I also started a collection ofSC20130815-170846 pictures for ELT. Every time I came across an interesting picture, I stored it onto my tablet. There are all sorts of pictures now: cartoons, photos, drawings, portraits, etc. Full of meaning, provocative, strange, breathtaking… I also have a small collection of advertising postcards… And I keep adding to both collections whenever I can. I remember taking a picture in a duty free shop on my way home from Creta, because the next day I was having a class on figures and prices, and this material was just perfect for it. I sticked up different prices on the shelves of cigarettes and souvenirs, and this was how I prepared for that class. It was quite enough, you know))

Because all these pics are precious for my lessons and students…

I’ve tried to remember at least some very basic ways to use pictures.

a portrait or several portraits can be used to make up a story. On my tablet I have a picture of some Steve uploaded. When my elementary group finally mastered Present and Past Simple, Steve was very helpful: we tried to imagine in as much detail as possible who he is, where he lives, what he usually does in the evenings and how his yesterday went..Several portraits of different people work even better, as the lifestories can be compared, combined, etc. If I want to make a discussion more structured, it helps to stick up some words or phrases (like, for “Steve”: 8 a.m., girlfriend, Spanish, cook)

Grammar&Vocabulary: pictures here help immensely. For example, I have a set of pictures to practise modals of obligation (people in uniform, a prohibiting sign, no smoking, a photo of “Free” sign, etc.). There are also lots of pictures showing that “it has just rained” vs “it has been raining for 2 days” and a lot of other things.. With lower levels, it’s also very convenient to use pics to revise irregular verbs (it’s quite easy to google for “to build” or “to start”) or vocabulary items like “table”, “books”, etc. But this is clasics, isn’t it?

Pictures also worked when I wanted my student to remember some idioms we’d had a class before, and I didn’t want any gap-fill or mathching…the idioms were about happiness and unhappiness, so I just printed out some pictures that drew associations for “on top of the world”, “broken-hearted”, etc, and she managed to remember all of them!

Predictions and deduction: pictures can be used to arouse interest and to guess what can happen later on! I just love this: if my students are creative and resourceful enough (and most of them are!), I am free to show them a picture as provocative, surprising or weird as I please and just to wait till they are ready to comment. This helps to create a right atmospehre in class and to prepare the students to focus on something that is following the picture(s), as well as to refresh the right vocabulary items you want them to remember for your main activity. It could be featuring any kind of street situation, a view from the bird’s eye, a face, a photo from a newspaper, a picture I just took on my way to a class, anything… I wish I could draw, that would save me a lot of googling nad surfing and thinking about copyright…

so these are just several ways to use the pictures for ELT…what are the ways you prefer?

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About Svetlana Urisman (Englishteachingnotes)

I am an ADOS and an English teacher (and materials writer) in a language school in Moscow. I have been an ADOS and a teacher trainer for almost a year now and a teacher for about 5 years. I am keen to share some ideas and materials I've developed in order to take them further and not to forget or lose them You are welcome to use any materials represented in this blog, and I will be happy to get your feedback afterwards if you take them to your classroom! ;-)
This entry was posted in authentic materials, grammar, grammar games, lesson plans, materials writing, Professional development, vocabulary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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