Home > Activities > Speaking activity – Speculating about pictures

Speaking activity – Speculating about pictures

This is the tenth post on the blog. One of the things I had in mind when I created the blog was also to post some of the activities I’ve worked with in class. As I hadn’t done it up to now, it seems like post number 10 is a good one to do it.

The activity aims at working with students on speculating about pictures, and I’ve designed it to work with CAE students. Sometimes I’ve seen students having major difficulties when it comes to talking about pictures, especially when they aren’t sure what the pictures mean. They also tend to use language such as, “It is…” when they really want to say, “I think it is…”

Anyway, the activity is composed of a PPT file and a Word file. These are the files:

Extra activity – speculating about pictures WORD
If you want to see this file on Google Docs, click here.
Extra activity – speculating about pictures PPT
Alternatively, you can view the PPT by clicking here. There are no animations on Google Docs, though.

You should start it with the PPT and use the document after the 13th slide. The document will also provide students with practice on Paper 3 (two different parts of the paper). After students have worked with the text, you go back to the PPT to finally do the speaking practice for the paper. By doing it like this, I expected students to be able to recall the language they’d seen before working with the text.

Anyway, if you decide to try the activity or just download it to analyse it, drop me a line and tell me what you think of it.

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  1. December 7, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I love free activities:) Cool idea. Two suggestions though. It would be helpful if you underlined or highlighted where the blanks are in the answer key as well.

    Also, lots of places don’t have docx formats because we have old versions of MSOffice, so saving it as a Word 2003 doc might be better.

    I found you on Twitter. You have been followed. I’m not responsible for what happens next :)

    • December 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

      Thank you for the suggestions, Nick. Point taken! I’ll definitely do that for the next activities I post on the blog. I even thought about saving document files in a PDF format, but I like to have the freedom to adapt when I find interesting activities online, so it’s only fair others have this possibility with my activities. Something that’s just come to mind is Google Docs. What do you think?

      Thanks for following! I’ve just started following you back. OK, OK, I can be held accountable for what happens next as you bailed out before I had the chance to do so! :) I’m looking forward to some interesting conversations and lots of sharing.

      • Beatriz
        December 12, 2009 at 1:32 am

        I’m afraid I’m probably having the problem Nick’s described, because I’ve tried to open both files several times and it didn’t work. I hope to be able to see them in the future. (I suppose I should update my software! :)

  2. December 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Sharing class activities on teaching blogs is a great idea and great practice. I like the idea behind this activity, because it is open to different levels, if learners receive the appropriate scaffolding.

    One way to mine an activity like this even deeper is to follow the speaking activity up by letting students write about their favourite picture. If the facilities exist, they could even turn this into a podcast or video… By going deeper into the activity with different skills, accuracy, fluency and recall can be improved.

    I look forward to more lesson plans, and will follow your example in my next blog post!

    • December 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm

      The follow-up you activities you suggested are great! We could also ask them to create a voicethread. I’m glad you found the activity useful.

      Sharing activities is one of the purposes of the blog. It’s always nice to have extra activities to adapt and use in our classes, I agree with you.

      I look forward to all criticism and comments on anything I publish here, as well as to your blog posts.

  3. December 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’ve just changed the files to their .DOC and .PPT equivalents. In addition to that, I’ve uploaded them to Google Docs and shared the links on the post. I hope all is well now! Thank you all for your feedback.

  4. Beatriz
    December 13, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Thanks for the format change. I opened them without any problems now.

    I really like the activity -I particularly like the scaffolding, which is actually scaffolding rather than drilling, although I’m not sure I agree with Marie-Therese about it being open to many different levels. C1, definitely, and B2+, but I’m not sure students below those levels would really be able to profit from the freedom the activity gives them. In my opinion, they’d be internally forced at some point to choose between using appropriate language accurately enough and expressing what they truly want to say.

    I love the photos. And another thing I like is the subtle way you managed to include two different parts of the paper in one (very interesting) text.

    Is the follow-up (slides 14-15) supposed to be oral, written, or either?

    Thanks very much for sharing! By the way, someone pointed me to the following site yesterday: http://ryanschude.com/ It has fantastic photos for speculating (you may already know of it): they were taken by an LA photographer, Ryan Schude and
    I suppose if you watch (well, yes there’s a motion section) them from the web with the students there’d be no copyright problems. Hope you like them

    • December 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm

      I’m glad to hear you could now see the activity. Thanks for the nice comments about it. The idea is exactly to give learners a step-by-step guidance on how o use that kind of language, not drilling. I’ve tried it with bot B2 and C1 students, and it worked. With lower levels I believe the activity has to be adapted and some of the language mus be changed.

      I loved the pictures as well. I’m just sorry I didn’t get to save the URL where I got them from. However, a quick Google Images search with the words “unusual monuments” will probably show all of them.

      I wasn’t aware of Ryan Schude’s site. Thanks for telling me about it. The pictures are just great. It’s funny what goes inside an English teacher’s mind, huh?! Instead of simply appreciating the pictures, we start thinking about how to use them in class. :)

  5. January 17, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Thank you for all the hard work on the ppt! It’s beautiful, and the concept of speculating about photos, although not new, is nicely worked up here. I mean to use it in class soon.

    • February 2, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I’m looking forward to finding out how the activity went in your classroom. This is not a new concept, but it’s certainly an important one!

      Cheers!

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