Using Photos in Language Classes, Part 1

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“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange

Visuals are useful and powerful tools to enhance the use of language, combining the images and the concepts they refer in the minds of the learners. Photos, as all visual images, also encourage the learners to predict and guess the story of the photo they are looking at. It is easy to bring the real world into the classroom and talk and discuss about it.

Today’s children love taking photos. They love taking “selfies” but they also take photos of everyday objects, food, the place they live, the place they visit and they don’t need a camera for taking photos anymore. They don’t even need to go somewhere to develop them to bring into the classroom. There is even no need for a printer, a computer as long as they have a smart phone, Internet connection and Google Tools to share it with you and their class mates. Moreover, as they are addicted to use the phone and can’t live a minute apart from them, why shouldn’t we take advantage of this and challenge them?

I think we can ask them to take their own photos or we can bring the ones that we have taken or chosen from other people’s sets. I’d suggest #ELTpics for projects with photos if you don’t want to use your own photos or the student photos.

In the early years the photos can be used to

Teach, revise vocabulary

Drill the target language

Describe the photo

Role play

Gamify

However in the advanced levels photos encourage students to write and tell stories, to discuss certain issues, and do a lot more things.

So I’m planning to write a few posts on using photos in the language classrooms. I will list some activities that can be used with any level.

Caption Writing Project

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  • Tell students to take photos on their way home or at the weekend, etc.
  • You can guide them to take photos of food, supermarkets, street markets, people commuting in the morning, etc.
  • Start a Google Slide and share with your class.
  • Tell students to upload their photos to the slide.
  • Depending on the size of the class, divide students in teams and give each team a set of photos (depending on the number of photos uploaded)
  • Tell each team to write captions for the photos they have for their teams.
  • Choose the best photo, best caption, the most creative caption, etc. (optional)

Follow up:

  • You can print them out and create a class display.
  • You can download the Slide as pdf and upload the file to “youblisher” and create an ebook that can be shared or embedded to your class blog or school website. This very easy activity can be turned into a class project as well.
  • If you decide to continue the project all year long, you may then decide to print the sets and turn them into a printed “class catalogue”.

 To be continued …

 

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