How to use photographs for oral discussion

Photographs or cut-outs from newspapers/ magazines are very useful for oral discussion…as long as you don’t select a famous person or someone familiar to the pupils. They are also useful as visual props for the reluctant/ shy speaker.

Some suggested photograph activities:

  • Question time: Pupils can choose a photograph and discuss using questions such as …
  1. Who is in the picture?
  2. What is the person doing?
  3. Where do you think the person is?
  4. When do you think this picture was taken?
  5. Why is the person doing…?
  6. When would we talk to …?
  7. What would you say if you were talking to this person?
  8. How do we speak when we talk to …?
  9. Repeat this activity with another photograph card and compare and discuss the difference in answers.

Before/after: Pupils can take a photograph card and discuss what they think is happening in the photograph and also what they think happened before and after the photograph was taken. (Imaginations can go wild here!)

  • Give a life: Pupils can select a photograph card and discuss what type of life the person in the photograph has. For example:

This is John and Mary. The baby is called Lucy. They live in a pretty yellow house with a large beautiful garden. They are currently enjoying their holiday in France…etc

4.Character description: Using the vocabulary for describing characters, the pupils describe the physical appearance of the character(s) in their photograph card in great detail.

5. Picture revelation: The teacher could select a photograph card and display on a white board using a visualiser. The picture can be covered using six different colours of paper/ numbered paper. The pupils can select which piece of paper is to be removed and guess what is in the photograph, who it is and where the photograph was taken etc. until the whole picture is revealed. This activity can also be carried out in pairs/ groups with the pupils using little numbered/ coloured pieces of paper. 

6. What is outside the frame (of the picture). This is a great imagination builder as pupils have to take what is in the photograph into consideration to describe who/ what might be in the surrounding area outside the frame of the photograph.

There are 100 photograph cards in the Language for Living oral language box. These are photographs of people and families at play, work or other activities. These photographs can be used in a variety of ways during oral language in paired, group work or as a whole class activity with many tying into other areas of the curriculum such as S.P.H.E.

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