Teaching Ideas for the ESL Classroom
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Drawing Pictures: Listening and
Speaking Practice for ESL Students

This is a fun vocabulary building exercise that also provides lots of speaking and listening practice. This activity should be done after students are used to basic TPR. Start with simple drawings or diagrams. Teacher Joe usually starts with simple shapes - circles, squares, triangles, some on the left side of the paper, some on the right, some at the top, some at the bottom. Some are big, some are small, some are not too big and not too small! As students get used to this activity, you can move to more complex pictures and photographs.

In step one, describe the diagram as students try to draw it at their desks. Walk around the room to see whether students understand what you are describing or not. Don't worry if you have to repeat a few times at first. Students may need time to get used to listening, thinking and transfering their understanding to their paper. Be patient.

In the second step, have students do pair practice. Give one partner a simple drawing to describe while the other student draws. When they have finished and you have given feedback, let students change roles. Walk around the room offering suggestions when necessary.

In step three, describe a more complex picture for students to draw. Even though it is more complex, the students will normally do better than the first time, because they are getting used to listening to English! As you describe, don't try to get every detail. Show students how to describe the overall picture first, then choose necessary details only. You will start to get some pretty funny drawings from students that you can share wih the class.

Step four, of course, is more pair practice. Students will need more difficult words and sentences, so you might want to introduce them before you begin. And as always, end with a review of new vocabulary, especially key sentences. Have students repeat these aloud!

When students can describe photos without too much difficulty, they're ready to move up to Joe's Video Lesson!