While I was doing my CELTA, and before I knew about eltpics, I saved photos from magazines in an old biscuit tin. Shortly after my CELTA, I put said tin in my mum’s attic, where it stayed for the three years I was in Brno. When I came back to the UK to work in Newcastle, I thought it was time to retrieve some of the materials banished to the attic and try to make use of them. It took another eight months for me to finally find a good use for the photo box, and they have now become a staple of my current beginner classes. You could substitute eltpics or pictures drawn by students. Here are some of the ways I have used them.
With all of the activities, I modelled first, then the students copied the model to do the activity. I have never given explicit instructions as the students would not understand them at this level.
What’s her name? What’s his name?
After introducing the structure ‘What’s _____ name?’, elicit a selection of names and write them on slips of paper. Save them after the class (I keep mine in the tin with the pictures) as they will come in useful again and again. I wrote girls’ names in pink and boys’ names in blue to help the students. They don’t have to be English names – my students just decided that was what they wanted, and all of the names shown in these pictures come from them.
Ask the students to attach names to the photos by asking ‘What’s his/her name?’ They could also pick up a photo and a name to take on the identity of that person.
Other structures we practised here were:
- His/Her name is (not) _______.
- Is his/her name _______? Yes, it is. No, it isn’t.
- He/She is (not) ________.
- Is he/she ________? Yes, he/she is. No, he/she isn’t.
- (By grouping pictures or using ones with more than one person) What are their names?
- Their names are ______ and ________.
- Are their names ______ and ________? Yes, they are. No, they aren’t.
- How do you spell _____?
Where is she from? Where is he from?
Using flags, add an extra stage after eliciting the name. You can practise similar structures to those above, and by including pictures of objects you can add structures with ‘it’ too.
- Where is he/she/it/Jake from?
- Where does he/she/it/Kate come from? (introduced by my students)
- Is he/she/it/Ivy from _______? Yes, he/she/it is. No, he/she/it isn’t.
- Does he/she/it/Harry come from ________? Yes, he/she/it does. No, he/she/it doesn’t.
- What country is he/she/it/James from?
- He/She/It/Lucy is (not) from __________.
- He/She/It/David comes/doesn’t come from ____________.
Spread a selection of pictures, both people and objects on the table. Ask students to point to a picture showing a particular colour: blue/red…. You could make it harder by including more than one colour in your requirement: blue and green. You could also practise ‘What colour is it?’
First, revise the name questions as above – I normally get students to do this as they are assigning names to the photos. Then, put an object with each name/photo pair. You can use this to practise:
- Does he/she/Michael have ________? Yes, he/she does. No, he/she doesn’t.
- He/She/Jack has __________.
- He/She/John doesn’t have _________.
- What does he/she/Anna have?
- Do they have ______? Yes, they do. No, they don’t.
- They (don’t) have ________.
- What do they have?
We played a guessing game using the ‘doesn’t have’ structure. One person said a negative sentence, for example ‘He doesn’t have matches.’ The others were allowed one guess (only!), before the first student said another sentence. The other students had to work out which person it was using the fewest guesses.
With the same photos and flashcards, we also practised:
- It is his/her/their/Jack’s _________.
- They are his/her/their/Jack’s ________.
- Is it his/her/their/Jack’s __________? Yes, it is. No, it isn’t.
- Are they his/her/their/Jack’s ________? Yes, they are. No, they aren’t.
You could do practise any of the structures listed for ‘objects’ above. You could also practise the obvious structure of: ‘What is he/she wearing?’ ‘What are they wearing?’ I introduced colours as adjectives at this point:
- She is wearing a grey jacket.
- He is wearing a black jacket.
- Michael is wearing a white shirt.
I have managed to teach at least 50 hours of lessons over the last five weeks based largely on a combination of these pictures, some flashcards, a (non-interactive) whiteboard, and trips to the school cafe to introduce other students. The pictures have formed the backbone of drilling and repetition, while providing variety through their mix and match nature. I’ve had a maximum of four students, so this variety has been important. I will continue to use them throughout the course, and will share any more activities as and when we do them. If you have any more ideas on how to use the pictures, with any level (not just beginners), please feel free to leave a comment.