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Picture dictation

A picture dictation activity
OK, so seeing– All right, so Josh show– oh, go on, you start it. OK. Well, seeing as we’ve been looking at dreams, I thought I’d share one that someone else introduced me to, which uses a fabulous technique which we all know. You know picture dictations, yeah? Claire? Shall we try one of those? Oh, I love a picture dictation. Yeah,let’s do that. Have you got pen and paper?
Great, OK. Can I tell you about an amazing dream I had last night, and that you could draw for me? Mhm. Yeah? OK, I’m not going to show you the picture, obviously. I’m going to describe this to you. But I’m going to show people this end. Here is an image that I’ve found on Pixabay, which was free for reuse. I can show that credit to that in a second. But we’ll go back to what I just had there. OK. So Claire, yeah, I had this amazing dream last night. And I was a small child in my dream. I was a small child.
And it must have been summer, because I was wearing kind of light blue pyjamas with short sleeves and short trousers. And I was really blond– I don’t have colours. Sorry? I don’t have colours. OK. Well, this is just to help you imagine it. But anyway, have you got any other questions though? Can you remember, how– what? No, that’s OK. Small child. With short sleeves. Small child, and I was kind of blond. And the weird thing was, I was standing on top of a cliff, right near the edge of a kind of rugged, rocky cliff. And I had my arms stretched out in front of me.
I was trying to feed, of all things, I was trying to feed a– whoops, a giraffe. I was trying to feed a giraffe. So I had my arms stretched out like this. And I can use this screen obviously. I was standing on the edge of the cliff. The cliff was on the left-hand side of the picture, maybe taking up about a third of it. You’re not looking at me, so you’re not getting my visual gestural clues. Oh, sorry. I’m just getting really into my picture. A small little boy, which was me. I had my arms stretched out with some grass in it. And I was trying to feed this immense giraffe. The giraffe was as big as me, basically.
Well, no, bigger. Much bigger. Because it was standing below the cliff. And its head was above the cliff. And I was stretching up to feed it. And as I remember, in the background, there was a flock of birds flying through the sky just above the giraffe’s head. The giraffe looked quite friendly, but wanted to eat this dry grass. I think in the background, about the same level as the cliffs I was standing on the top of the cliff do you want me to slow down and explain anything? No, no, no, this is great. OK. There was a line of mountains in the background. It was dusk as well. I think it was kind of sunset time.
Yeah, so that’s basically what it was. No more, did you want to get any more details about my dream scene? Nope. Are you ready to show it to me then? Yes. Go on then. I’m so excited. Show it to me. Show it to me. Wow. I need to go up to speak of you and get– that’s fantastic. But you’ve drawn it the other way around. That’s amazing that it looks just like me as a small child. Did you remember to get the birds? Wow. OK, do you want to see what I was talking about? Yes. Here we go. Here. Here we go, he says. Of course, I need to have that image open so that I can share it.
Claire, can you see anything yet? I think the answer is no, because I’m not actually screen sharing with you. Not yet. OK. But I am going to screen share with you now.
Here we go. Is that what you saw? Ooh. Yeah, not bad. Not bad. Uh-huh. Great. OK. So obviously, we could do this kind of activity as a speaking activity. I think we need to– well, maybe Claire, you can help me with that. Because I felt I was doing a lot of talking, very fast, descriptive. But do work to get that in there. I could be listening in as the teacher and I could be giving feedback on that, or collecting notes for feedback. But how about the other student, the one that’s drawing? You seemed very engaged. I was. And I was really into my art. So I think we need to remember that.
But also, maybe we could keep checking in with the student and asking questions. So to say, OK, so was it a very big giraffe or a very small one? Then that helps them to tune back into you. Because otherwise, I’ve got art happening here. So I’m colouring in my picture. Another thing I thought about is this could be the model for a pair work activity. They could draw their own dream, and then describe that to a partner in breakout rooms. And then they listen and draw their partner’s dream. And then show each other pictures. I think that would be great. I would love that. Fantastic. I would even do that. Yeah. I really enjoyed that.
I think what we’ve just done is what I would do as well. I might say to my students, OK, so you’ve had fun trying to draw it. And I’ve used language to express it. But maybe we could change this activity to make it more interactive and to work on the language. What language does Claire need to have in order to check that she’s drawing it? So then we would start maybe suggesting in the chat things like, “oh, hang on a second.” Or, “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that bit.” or “Did you mean big? Or was it in the background?” So we can do it as a kind of task, teach, task, type activity like we’ve just done.
And work in some opportunities for how they can make the maximum benefit, in terms of language learning, from this activity. I like that. And it’s functional language. So it’s real communication, isn’t it? It’s real meaningful interaction. Which is what we’ve been talking about on this course. OK.

Watch Joshua demonstrating a fun picture dictation activity.

  • Would your learners enjoy this activity? How might you adapt it for them? What language might you focus on? See Claire and Josh discuss this from minute 4 to 6 (last 2 minutes).
  • What other activities or games involving pictures do your learners enjoy doing online?

Find out more

Download The Image in English Language Teaching (pdf ebook) – a collection of articles and practical ideas for using still and moving images in language education.

The images we’ve used in the screencasts on this course come from Unsplash and Pixabay.

Your students might enjoy this close-up images guessing game.

This article is from the free online

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