You all have seen that my methodology for teaching and learning English is communicative. Okay then, one activity which is very appropriate for naturalistic communication in the classroom is for the students – and for the teacher too! – to describe pictures.
I bring to the classroom, in my bag, usually a magazine with many varied pictures, National Geographic namely. It has pictures of landscapes, people, animals in the wild and nature… My students particularly like this activity, which I try not to repeat too much, on the other hand.
Usually one of my students has got to describe a picture that I chose for him while his classmates cannot see it. After the description the magazine runs through the classroom, for the rest of the students to see the described photo. Except for the describer the other students have been imagining and making out the picture, and often the reality is better than their imaginations.
I’ve got to recognize that those guys of National Geographic make and select very good and beautiful pictures. Which is also educative: beauty is educative and builds up their sensitivity. I remind you that my students at present are adults anyway. Over in summer things will change again and I’ll also teach teens and children.
I have to teach them, in practice, how we refer to the different places inside the photo – for example I teach my students how to say background and foreground.
How did I start this activity? Well, putting the little ducks to the pond. I mean, my students started to describe and depict pictures on their own: they learned on their own, although I had molded this activity with my own descriptions too.
Right now I’m remembering that long ago I used to utilize posters for descriptions while the whole class of students could see the photographs. While describing pictures the descriptor has to talk about different aspects: what calls his attention firstly, the main points of the picture, colors, shapes, placement adverbs and adverbials, clothes, world vocabulary, animals, vocab for describing a beautiful scenery or landscape…
Along the years and over time I’ve proved that this activity is nice, useful and practical, aimed at communicating inside the classroom, not to mention that for young children you teacher have to use visual aids: they don’t have a mind for the abstract yet – oh, and also discussion can be derived from describing pictures: more and more communication in English! / Photo from: bird-watching-for-kids The BackYard Naturalist. Young students like pictures.