10 Uses of Photos In The ESL Classroom

  1. Use magnetic copies of photos on the

You can buy magnetic paper and print out a picture, along with their names of every child in the class. This is an excellent starting point as it has so many different uses.

The first thing it could be used for is simple registration. When a child arrives, the student moves their name from out to in, letting teachers and administrative staff see where everyone is in a moment.

It also means that teachers who do not often teach a class, immediately get to put a name to a face, preventing students from switching names.

The photos let teachers randomly create teams or place students into an order. It also means that students can use photos to describe their friends and sort them into different groups depending on what they know about each other.

  1. Magnetic photos of different foods.

Students need to learn all about different foods and items. By placing these into magnetic strips, the students can create their own mini menus and discuss their preferences. It is also a great way of sorting foods into healthy and unhealthy foods.

These types of cards could also be used in different ways. They could be used to sort items by colours and use them to could and group foods in different ways. They could even be used to generate stories, as the students are presented with different items on a card and need to build them into a very short story.

  1. Comparatives and Superlatives of people in a group

Photos of people from a family are a great way of strengthening students ideas about comparatives. The students are able to describe who is the tallest, who is the shortest etc in a really meaningful way. The students love chatting about their own families and so remain on task for longer.

These photos can also be used to describe different talents in the family. Who is the most musical, physically active or the strongest.

  1. Make personal photo albums

Here are a set of great teaching activities which use photos – http://busyteacher.org/search.html?q=family+tree

Use students’ photos to create their own family trees. Then try to find some photos of these people at their own ages and see if the rest of the class is able to place them in the correct place.

Likewise, a photo board of the teachers at their own age has always been an incredibly popular pastime for students. It then lets the teachers and students to discuss what is the same and what was different in two different recent time periods, such as life with and without the internet etc.

  1. Photo Novel

Students can create a short story plan and then use their own camera or a polaroid to print out the photos instantly and create a short story, which they can then retell to the rest of the class. This is also an excellent opportunity to create the work using PowerPoint, as then the students are able to present their own story and ideas to the rest of the class as an exciting, comprehensive story.

  1. Inquisitive Minds – asking questions to find the owner.

Children bring in five photos of places they have been or things which are special to them. They and their family must not appear in any of the photos. The photos are then carefully labeled to make sure that they get back to their rightful owners and then places randomly across the whiteboard.

The class then looks at the photos and asks each other questions to see if they are able to match the different photos to the different people. An example would be a cute picture of a dog – child A might ask child B – “Do you have a golden Labrador?”. As well as improving their conversations, they are also able to get to know each other a little better.

  1. A Sequence of Steps in pictures

The teacher or the students take photos of an activity and then mix them up and ask the students to place them in the correct order. First the students orally place the photos in the correct order.

After this, the students write a short paragraph explaining what is happening in each photo.

This is an excellent idea for teaching the different openers, first, secondly, thirdly, after this, after that etc…

  1. What’s Wrong with This Picture?

This is a really fun teaching idea. It lets teachers place silly things into serious photos. This can be done in real life, such as placing a shoe in the fridge or a pizza on a pillow, etc, letting students practice the words should, shouldn’t, mustn’t, must etc.

However it can also be done using the wonderful world of photo editing, placing items in really odd places, such as an aeroplane flying inside or an undressed man going to school etc.

After doing this, it is a fun piece of homework for the students to create 5 photos of their own to share with the class. This again can easily be made into a fun set of PowerPoint presentations to share with the rest of the class.

  1. What’s the story?

This is a really simple idea. Show the students or ask the students to bring in funny photos they have seen or taken from the internet, and create these into funny newspaper articles or narratives. The students are able to discuss their different stories and share them with the class. This work is great for both written and oral work.

  1. A picture says a thousand words…

Give the students different landscape images and ask them to write a detailed description about what they can see in each of the pictures. The students then mix up the photos and these are placed randomly down one side of the board. The students are then given a description, and they need to discover which photo best matches their description.

As well as improving their reading skills, this is also an excellent way of further expanding their vocabularly.

Original idea found here: http://busyteacher.org/6567-10-creative-esl-photo-activities.html