Using pictures to practice grammar

Using pictures to practice grammar

In today’s post I am going to tell you about a classroom activity I use a lot. It can be adapted to work with all different levels and with a number of different grammar points, and all you need is some blank sheets of paper!

This activity works really well when you want to contrast 2 language points or structures, for example usually and used to, or at low levels like _ing  and would like to, but doesn’t have to be. So, what you need to do is:

Step 1

Before the class write yourself a list of 6 sentences that use the target language.

I usually walk my dog at the weekend.

I used to play football at the weekend when I was 10.

OR I like playing football.

I would like to go swimming tomorrow.

And now turn these into questions you can ask the students.

What do you usually do at the weekend?

What did you use to do at the weekend when you were 10?

OR What sports do you like playing?

What sport would you like to do tomorrow?

Step 2

Hand out a blank piece of paper to each student and tell them they are going to draw 6 pictures. They should NOT draw the pictures in sequence but randomly fill the page. Then ask them the first question.

Draw me a picture – What do you usually do at the weekend?

Give students time to think and time to draw. If you need to prompt try to be general (e.g. “Sport” not “Football”) as otherwise students tend to all draw the same picture.

Do this for all 6 questions.

Step 3

Elicit the questions you asked from the students and put them on the board. If necessary elicit an example answer for each so the students have a model to refer to.

Step 4

Put students into pairs or small groups. There are now a number of options:

  1. Students simply point to one of their partner’s pictures and their partner says the sentence.
  2. Students choose a picture and try to guess the sentence.
  3. With either a. or b., students ask follow up questions about each picture.

Other Options

  1. Cut A4 paper into 4 or 6 flashcard sized pieces. Students draw their pictures on these pieces of paper which can then be used as flashcards.
    1. Use the flashcards for drilling.
    2. Put the flashcards around the room, students walk around in pairs working out the sentences.
    3. On separate slips of paper students write sentences to match their (or a partner’s) pictures. Play matching games with them.
  2. With a small piece of sellotape attach students pictures to their t-shirts and then students mingle and talk about their pictures.
  3. Students cover their picture and do a slow reveal. Other students either ask questions “Do you like playing football?” or guess the sentence “You used to go swimming.” Make sure students are clear which they should do.

I have presented this activity a number of times in my workshop called Are you Picasso? Me neither. What do you think of the activities? Is there anything else we could with these pictures?



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