Using Picture Description to Enhance English Oral Skills
When teaching a foreign language, one must take into account the following factors so as to create a more effective and engaging programme.
- school locality and context
- school-based and citywide curriculum priorities
- the students’ lives outside of school – their interests, aspirations, and home life
By creating a classroom environment that mimics real life, we bring learners one step closer to using “real world” English. Visuals help them imagine actual world scenarios and react to them more naturally.
As part of my programme with the Grade 3 students, guided reading and picture description is alternated week by week. Picture description challenges students to describe the details found in a series of pictures, encouraging them to use target vocabulary and connecting words.
Using a guided approach, students discuss the pictures in groups. After a suitable period of time, each student in the group take turns to describe one aspect of the picture to the whole class. It is here that teachers can survey the strengths of each participant with praise and prompting, regardless of their ability. This activity caters for learner independence and imagination to further their confidence and public speaking skills. It also provides observational details that inform the teacher of a student’s progress in a natural setting where collegiality and respect are modelled and expected.
In these activities, most importantly, teacher ‘lecture’ time is reduced and student engagement and speaking is increased. The teacher’s role is to provide positive feedback on a student’s participation and encourage constructive student-peer observations.
Using pictures when teaching speaking is a very important part of second language learning. The ability to communicate in another language clearly and efficiently contributes to the success of the learner in school and later on in life.