Visual literacy in ELT

I’m often asked about how I use images in my materials so here are a few links and resources that may be of interest.

Click here to watch a short talk I gave on the topic.

And this link takes you to ten ideas for using images on the ETpedia blog.

Another useful starting point when preparing for the use of images in lessons or materials is to build a bank of question types that could be used. This is a set a prepared some time ago for my own reference. A version also now appears in my resource book ETpedia:

1 Description

What can you see?

What does the picture show?

What is happening?

Say three adjectives that describe this picture.

2 People

Where are the people in this picture?

What are they saying/thinking?

How do they feel?

How well do the people in the picture know each other?

3 Activity

What are they doing?

Do they like doing this?

How often do you think they do this?

What has just happened?

4 Imagine you are in the picture

What would you be doing?

What would you say to the other person/people?

Would you enjoy being here? Why? Why not?

What question would you like to ask the person/people in the picture?

5 Time

When do you think the picture was taken?

What year is it?

What time of day/year is it?

6 Personalisation

What does it remind you of?

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

7 Comparison

How is the place in the picture similar to or different from where you live?

Compare the people in the picture. Find three similarities and three differences.

8 Predicting and speculating

What do you think will happen next?

What do you think the person is going to say/do next?

What do you think is to the right-hand side of the picture?

9 Picture with a text

Look at the picture with this text. What is the text going to be about?

Which part of the text is about the action or place in the picture?

10 Re-using the image

Imagine this picture is from a film poster. What is the title of the film? What kind of film is it?

Imagine this picture is the cover of a book. What is the title of the book? What kind of book is it?

Imagine this picture is the cover of a computer game. What is the title of the game? What kind of game is it?

Imagine this picture is from an advertisement. What is the product or service it is advertising?

1 reply


  1. Visual Literacy in the Language Classroom – National Geographic Learning: In Focus

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