Skip to main content

Using pictures to generate discussion

With A-level students I have enjoyed some good lessons over the years using a simple, suggestive picture as a basis for discussion. You begin by getting students to simply describe what is in the picture. You then get them to use their imaginations to make up a back story to the picture.

Questions run along the lines:

C'est qui?
Comment s'appellent-ils?
Quel âge ont-ils?
Qu'est-ce qu'elle porte?
Que fait-il comme travail?
Quel sont ses passe-temps?
D'où vient-il? D'où vient-elle?
Pourquoi est-il ici?
Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé?
De quoi parlent-ils?
Que se passera-t-il après?
Quelle est leur relation?
Pourquoi ils se disputent?

You cannot tell in advance where the questioning will lead. You depend on what the students come up with and hope they are imaginative. They may need some prompting if they are short of ideas. Encourage them to think like scriptwriters for a soap. The more inventive they are, the better. Grammatically there are good opportunities to practise various tenses, including imperfect (what was just happening befor the scene?) and conditional: what would happen if...?

Once you have done a group discussion, you could then present another picture and ask the students in pairs to write a scenario for the picture. You could give them a 15 minute time limit, then get them to report back to the class.

This can easily lead into a piece of writing in play or narrative form. Maybe with some groups a scene could be acted out.

You can easily find suggestive pictures from the web. Here are some I've just googled:













Comments

  1. I used to do this too and it worked really well. Another similar idea was to post up on the board 1 screen's worth of random vocabulary, random phrases, nouns, verbs, adverbs + verb tenses, + anything else that might have been recently studying, eg relative pronouns, subjunctive etc. The pupils had to work in groups to write a story that used all of the vocab and structures on the board and present the story to the rest of the class. The resulting stories were often hilarious!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a great idea. I keep meaning to try this and now you have made me want to do it even more. I've a feeling it's something I could even try with Key Stage 3 students, too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a lovely idea. My mind is already ticking over which groups I can use it with in the next academic year. It would be an excellent way to recap grammar and vocab at the end of a unit. This is going to be a priority in my to- do list of activities. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting. I'm glad it's useful.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

Making words memorable

Most teachers and researchers would agree that knowing words is even more important than knowing grammar if you wish to be proficient in a language. As linguist David Wilkins wrote in 1972: "Without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed."One of the frustrations for teachers is pupils' inability to retain vocabulary for productive use. A good deal of research has been done over the years into how pupils might better keep words in memory. Two concepts which have come to the fore are spacing and interleaving.

Spaced practice

A 2003 review of the literature by P.Y. Gu reported that most studies show that students frequently forget words after learning them just once.  Anderson and Jordan (1928) discovered that after initial learning, then one week, three weeks and eight weeks thereafter, the recall success was 66%, 48%, 39% and 37% respectively. Other studies have produced similar results. Unsurprisingly, these researchers recommend, space…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…