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Home » Fluency » An ELT picture is worth a thousand words -Five ideas for using images in class

An ELT picture is worth a thousand words -Five ideas for using images in class


Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words…how about a picture with cool funky effects made especially for classroom use?

That’s worth a few hours planning! 🙂

I love playing with images, as you can clearly see on these “masterpieces”:

Here are 5 activities to get your students engaged and willing to speak in class. They are suitable for all types of classroom dynamics: pair work, group work or private students.

1. Let’s Ikea the house

Have you seen Ikea’s brilliant advertising campaign where they renamed some of its products according to the most common relationship problems that were googled in Sweden? How creative is that?

This activity is ideal for A2 students and above. The teacher selects some household appliances and objects or even pieces of furniture ( tip: prepare a  worksheet or flashcards) and each pair/group is in charge of renaming the objects based on relationship problems. Teachers might give some examples from Ikea website:


How? This can be played as a guessing game, where each group says the new chosen name and the other has to guess its original name. Encourage your students to name the objects by using full sentences rather than a phrase.

2. Give Me Four Pictures

Using an online Photo Editor ( https://www.picmonkey.com/#collage or https://www.befunky.com/create/collage/ ), the student should prepare a collage using 4 types of pictures, then students are supposed to tell a story of each one in the classroom.

This is mine:


Pictures Categories

a) The last picture they posted on Facebook or Instagram

b) Their most recent profile picture on Facebook

c) The last picture they liked on Facebook or Instagram 

d) The last picture they took ( but didn’t post on any Social Media website)

They are supposed to answer: When was the picture taken? Where was it taken? What context was it? Why did you take/ like that picture?

3. Funny Picture Caption

The title is self-explanatory. Choose funny or intriguing pictures and show them to the student, who will then come up with an amusing caption. Some of the terms I googled image to find interesting pictures:

Funny wedding photos/ Dogs wedding pictures/ Celebrities talking / Weird News / Funny celebrities pictures 


4. Picture in Focus

The idea is to focus on one single element of the picture and describe it. Encourage your students to guess its environment and the story of the focused object.

Eg. 1st Picture ( don’t show the original picture). Where do you think the man is? What is he doing? Why is he there? Is he with anyone?

Give students some minutes to analyse and describe the mysterious picture, then show the original picture so that they can check what their right guesses.

This is how you can create the same effect I did:

  • First, go to http://www.picmonkey.com and upload your picture in “Open.” My source for both pictures was http://www.eltpics.com/.
  • On the left-hand side choose Effects.
  • Go to Area and choose Focal Pixelate. Select the Pixel size and then Focal size. Change the image so the pixels are big enough to change the outlines of the objects and choose the focal size according to the object size you want to stand out.
  • Then go to Focal Zoom, then select Zoom blur. You want to make the surroundings unclear to your students.
  • Finally, apply the Focal B&W and save your picture.


5. Once upon a time

In this activity, teachers ask students to choose one personal picture and age it by using http://www.youroldpic.com/. Students are supposed to imagine what it was like back in time ( choose a time frame) and describe the image as if it was taken years ago.



You may also want to check out  Hancock Macdonald’s blog post  and ELT-Connect.com on the same subject. They are brilliant!

Thanks for reading and Have a wonderful Christmas!

1 Comment

  1. coc triche says:

    Amazing this kind of guide is definitely incredible it really aided me and also our kids, thanks a lot!


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