Teaching Tip: Using the Pictures in Course Books



I recently read an an excerpt on using coursebooks from a book called Planning Lessons and Courses that was written by Tessa Woodward back in 2001. I was looking for some ideas in terms of how we approach using course books in our teacher training courses here at Rennert. I know that 2001 is the equivalent of a million years ago when talking about ELT approaches and methods, but I found some fun ideas in the excerpt concerning the use of coursebook pictures. Here are a few of my favorites! 

Using the pictures (Woodward, 2001, Planning Lessons and Courses, Cambridge) :

  • Encourage students to name everything they can see in a picture in English, including general and visible things such as the decor, the season, the geography, and also invisible things such as the degree of rapport between the characters. This will provide a challenge even at advanced level.
  • Have a few students group themselves in a tableau, standing in the same relative positions as the people in the picture and copying the gestures and stance exactly. Ask them to say how they feel. This will often create laughter as well as a discussion of cultural points such as body language and eye contact in the target and home cultures.
  • Some planning is needed for this idea. Choose any picture (or dialogue) in the coursebook that depicts an interesting aspect of the target culture. Find a native speaker who’s lived in the country under discussion and ask them to comment on the authenticity of the picture or dialogue according to their own experience. Record what they say. You then have a comment on something in the coursebook, which is full of language to work on. (I learnt this from Peter Grundy.)

 I love that these ideas can work at a variety of levels and if you have the resources, I think that the last activity could be really really fun. Good luck and let me know if you try (or have tried) any of these ideas out!

image from: eslcommunity.org


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