Pictures are the fundamental “intermediary” for context in language teaching. That can be the pictures in a textbook, those in flashcards, on the board, in a power point or through video. They bridge the bewilderment of sound and give it meaning.
The best pictures for language teaching that I know of are “picture sets” – sets of instructional pictures used by special educators to teach certain life skills. I won’t bore you with another diatribe about how I believe teachers should receive training in special education and borrow a lot from the techniques and strategies they use (go here or here for that!). Rather, I’ll just offer you the sets I’ve collected, available free on the internet. (or get them all in a handy zip on EFL Classroom 2.0
Further, a few suggestions on how to use them, using the example below.
1. Inductively. Just give a sheet to students. They cut them out and then use them to create a dialogue and ask/answer questions. Or, if vocabulary related, group them in some way.
2. Provide a dialogue for students on the board. Introduce. Students practice the dialogue while pointing at the pictures and trying not to look at the model on the board.
3. Swat. Cut out the pictures like flashcards. A teacher or student makes a sentence and the students must point to or “swat” the right picture.
4. Pictionary. One student draws on of the pictures on the board. The others make a sentence using that word/form.
5. Assessment. A teacher uses the sheet to talk to a student and assess them about that topic. A great assessment tool it is. Students can study it directly in preparation.
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