Students taking Snaps – Ideas for Using Digital Photos in your ESOL / ESL / IELTS class.


If you haven’t got time to read – here’s the lesson

Students and teachers alike enjoying having their mobile phones switched on in class so they can look at text messages recieved, share photos of new editions to their family or tweets from people they have never met. Sadly, convention causes us to have our ringtones on silent and to gently chuckle along to ourselves as we read, look at a picture or digest the philosophical tweet. What, as someone in teaching recently has probably said over and over again, we turned the tables on this and used the phones as a teaching tool?  I’ll be looking at this in more detail in other blog posts but here, we’ll deal with photos.

Most mobile phones have decent cameras in them these days and with that much power, students have the ability to snap away at anything they like, for free. Of course, none of us are the very talented and famous photographer, David Bailey so we don’t really care what the photos really look like, what’s more important is the language that will be produced by talking about then before, during and after the process.

Before we start – some possible issues.

Not everyone will have a camera phone. This might make some activities difficult, especially homework tasks. Your institution or school might have some digital cameras you could lend students, or they might want to consider investing in some.

How do you share or show the photos? The best way to share photos is if you have an Interactive Whiteboard or a projector, but even just a standard computer monitor will do. Students can gather round to look at the photos together.  Annoyingly, lots of mobile phones don’t have standard USB connection ports and this might make it difficult to quickly upload photos from the phones as students will need their special connectors. One way might be to ask students to upload their photos to a repositiory, you might have moodle at your institution or something similar, but you could also use the fabulous and ask students to store their photos there or even facebook. If you do have an interactive whiteboard or will use a central computer you could ask students to store their photos on memory stick which they could plug in. 

Using Photos in Classroom Time.

1. In pairs students go away and take photos of  a series of increasing ly difficult objects to find. This is the only idea I’ve had enough time to develop into an actual lesson –  I’ve made a worksheet for this here. 

2. Signs. In pairs students take photos of signs.  They then come back and discuss these in class.

3. Where is it? Students take photos of familiar places that are not obvious, other students have to guess where it is.

4. Recreate these photos. Student have to try to reproduce famous photos or pictures. (not sure about this one!)

Outside class time – photo lessons that need some preparation.

1. Tell me about your favourite photo. Students bring in their own photo and talk about why it’s important to them or why they like it.

2. A day in your life – in photos. Students take a sequence of photos showing a day in their life which they can them show and explain to the rest of the class.

3. What happened at the weekend? The same as the task about but this time about the weekend. This could also be extended to include a celebration or other party.

4. My favourite place/ food/ person.

Feedback- How did it go?

Will let you know. Please let us know of any other digital photgraphy lessons you’ve done.


1 Comment

  1. The lesson worked really well with my students and took a long time indeed.
    Students took some great photos and I was really impressed by how they interpreted some of the things they were asked to photograph. They made some great power points.
    More importantly however, students communicated with each other in a very natural way and were also forced into interacting with the outside world in English. Students had to ask to take photographs of people and some students even had to explain themselves to a shop assistant who caught them taking photos in their shop.
    Please try this lesson and let me know how it went.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s