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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A Bollywood Style Song Lesson

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Nowadays there is a TV commercial of a fizzy drink that we talk a lot about. The dances used in the commercial is Bollywood style and we have just come across the original song on YouTube and it was not a surprise to find out that the song was from a Bollywood movie. The lyrics are in English but when I first listened I thought they were in Indian. Only when I focused, I caught the words. Then the idea emerged in my mind. Alas, it’s the end of year. I will not be able to use it this year but for the coming academic year, the song is on my list. 

You can use the Soup Song to

1. teach pronunciation, comparing the British or the American pronunciation with the one in the song.

2. talk about English as a Lingua Franca, even conduct a discussion on different pronunciations of English.

3. talk about different accents.

You can try Lyric Race with your class. It will be fun.

If you think moving in the class will be difficult because you have a big class, then maybe you can try the following activity with them

1. Prepare a gap fill activity with the lyrics. On slips of papers, preferably on a colored paper, write the omitted words.

2. Divide your class into teams.

3. Give them the handouts and the omitted words. Tell students to lay all the words open on the desk before you start the song.

4. Play the song and ask them to fill in the gaps with the omitted words. 

5. The winner is the one who finishes first.

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I’d like to hear about your thoughts about the lesson and if you use it before I can use, I’ll be happy to hear how your lesson went.

Getting Ready to Write A Story

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Level: All

Age: All

Target Language : Narrative Tenses, Adjectives to describe emotions, feelings, etc.                               

Give each student a handout with the chart below.

Play the sound effects you chose

Ask the students to fill in the following chart

What do you see?  
What do you hear?  
What do you feel?  
What do you taste?  
What do you smell?  

When your students finish completing their charts, ask them to share with their friends.

Remind them how we can start to write a first paragraph of a story. ( how we set the scene, etc)

Optional: you can ask your students to draw the scene based on their chart.

Then tell students to write an introduction paragraph for a short story or a novel.

You can download free sound effects

http://www.freesoundeffects.com/free-sounds/weather-sounds-10038/

http://www.soundsnap.com/browse

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Chain Story Tweets

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My 9th graders are difficult to teach, they are not motivated but whenever I want them to play a game, they become very eager. They are very competitive and even the weakest of them, try to do their bests to win a point for their teams so we play lots of games.Sometimes I adapt drill-like activities to games or interesting activities.

We were revising If Clauses and I decided to do it as tweets. I explained them how we write chain stories. Then put them in groups, gave them poster size paper and three sentences that they could start their story. They really enjoyed working in the groups and the 8th lesson of a very long day needed happily.

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Another Twitter inspired activity 

More Conditional Activities

 

5 Fun Activities For the Monday Morning

 

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1. Categories

Divide the class into two.

Explain the rules. You will give the students a category.

Call 2 students from each team to the board.

Set 2 minutes and tell them to write the words that come to their mind.

Some categories:

Things in a fridge

Things you can buy from a supermarket

Expensive items

Things you can find in a living room.

Adjectives that describe personality.

2. Right Word, Wrong Place

Prepare a handout with newly learned structures or some quotes on the topic you’d like to discuss in the class.

Make grammatically incorrect sentences changing the place of two words in the sentence and ask students to correct them.

3. Catch the words

Draw a circle and write some letters with which students form words. Prepare a handout jumbling the words you’ve recently studied in the class.

4. Dialogues

On slips of papers, write sentences or ask students to write sentences.

Put the students in pairs.

Give each pair 4 slips of papers, preferably the same 4 sentences and tell them to write a dialogue and insert the sentences they have on the slips of papers into their dialogues.

5. Comprehension Questions

Write the topic of the reading passage/listening activity on the board.

Tell students to copy it on a piece of paper and then write a question about it.

Then pass the paper to their friend and ask them to write another question. Then tell them to pass it to the next student. When each student receive their own papers, ask them to read the text and try to find if any of the questions are answered.