Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Fiona Mauchline – Using pictures in class

I am in awe of Fiona Mauchline. Her lessons must be amazing and the thing is that as she’s Dogme practitioner, her stuff is easily, no prep replicable.

Here are some of the great, creative ideas she presented in Seville. Try for photos you can use in class.

A lot of Fiona’s ideas stem from wanting not to invade the space of students and letting them choose or use photographs to reveal things about themselves at their own comfort level.

1. Students can go to eltpics and choose 4 photos that represent themselves or things they like or things they don’t like and then talk about them.
2. She suggested a Kim’s game activity where you take a photo of a bunch of objects of yours that may or may not give an impression about what kind of person you are and then students compare two pictures where one has a couple of items different. (Photo from here)

3. If the book calls for students to describe their house or family or a holiday, potentially invasive topics, is not if students can choose a picture from the website and talk about that instead.
4. I loved the idea courtesy of Paul Braddock of students taking photos on the way to school or work, every 5 minutes for example, and talking about why each thing was interesting.
5. Or even taking two photos of  a feature in the room. The boring lecture theatre we were in generated a surprising amount of things. My choice of the peeling paint and damp wall next to a window compared with my partner’s choice of the really futuristic paneled ceiling that I hadn’t even noticed. They looked like they were from different buildings. I’d never have thought there’d be anything worth talking about in one room.
6. She suggests doing this for students taking Cambridge exams so they’re doing those describe or compare a picture tasks with photos that they’ve taken themselves.
7. Opinion essays that are dying their usual death can be pepped up with photos of people from eltpics and getting students to give three adjectives to describe those people and their character and then asking what those characters would think about the question.
8. Cut pictures in half and get students to describe what is missing rather than the dry exam question of describing what everyone can already see, before revealing the missing half.
9. Set a homework task of taking a picture of something at home and then zooming in so in class others can guess what it might be/must be/could be.
10. Students listen to two pieces of music while visualising a given scene. After each one they respond to the cues by speaking or writing, perhaps comparing the two scenes. Example scenario, a city. What do the buildings look like? What are the people doing? What’s the weather like?

As well as the list of activities Fiona presented at TESOL Spain 2013, she manages a site Take a photo and…  and has so many ideas I wonder how she sleeps.


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This entry was posted on March 12, 2013 by in Teaching English and tagged , , , , , , .
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