This is a slightly adapted short section from our chapter about using pictures in The Language Teacher Toolkit.
Visit to Paris
Above is a sequence of about 15 simple pictures depicting a visit to Paris. They show times, places, means of transport and activities. Arrows indicate arriving and leaving, going up and coming down. They could all be displayed at once or presented one by one in a PowerPoint presentation.
Typical questions would be:
At what time did you leave the house?
Did you go to the bus station?
Where did you go?
At what time did the train leave?
Did the train leave at 9.00?
When did you arrive in Paris?
Did you go to Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower?
Did you take the bus to the Eiffel Tower?
How did you get to the Eiffel Tower?
How long did it take? 20 minutes?
And so on.
Now, who can recount the first three pictures for me? The next three? The whole story?
With this sequence as a stimulus, you can get students to recount a set of several pictures at once, allowing them the chance to produce longer utterances. This creates a sense of achievement and allows you to differentiate by aptitude.
Once you have worked in the first person (often the best place to start) you could then retell the story in the third person, perhaps in a subsequent lesson, thus recycling previous work and improving the students’ mastery. We would stress how important it is to return to previous work in a sequence of lessons (recycling language), adding something new on each occasion.
A sequence of this type offers many opportunities to develop oral and listening skills. The main aims would be to practise the use of time expressions, places and past tense. At the end of a sequence of oral work, students could write up an account in the first or third person to reinforce their oral and listening work.
It is easy enough to design picture sequences yourself. You can even do them quickly on the board by hand. Remember that the key aim is clarity and ease of exploitation, not to produce amusing pictures which may be attractive to the eye but of limited use in terms of exploitation. The same is true of PowerPoint presentations. You will find many of these freely available online. They should be carefully assessed for their efficacy rather than their attractiveness. You can also present picture sequences with text or gapped text to scaffold language.