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How to Use Pictures as Grammar Prompts

March 17, 2022

Pictures are exceptionally supportive when it comes to language teaching and learning. A simple picture can instantly demonstrate the meaning of a word, removing any need for wordy or complicated definitions. 

Pictures are also a brilliant way to prompt grammar. Many of our Ellii materials have visuals to support understanding and make grammar practice fun and engaging. 

English language teachers can use materials like Flashcards, Picture StoriesWord Bank Readers, and other Ellii visuals as versatile prompts for just about any grammar point. 

Take, for example, the Daily Routines lesson from the Simple Sentences section. The lesson is aimed at teaching the simple present, but the images alone could just as easily be used to teach the present progressive or the simple past. 

Here's how you can use the pictures from the lesson above as grammar prompts.

Note: These ideas are best to review familiar grammar. If students are new to the grammar target, introduce it in context first using one of Ellii's videos, stories, or dedicated grammar lessons.

1. Provide Prompts

First, show students the images. Demonstrate the target language then ask students to make their own questions, answers, or statements. Give them word prompts depending on the grammar they're using.

For example: 

  • Show the "brush teeth" image. Then ask your students to make a question with the words "does" and "in the morning." → Does she brush her teeth in the morning?
  • Show the "do homework" image. Then ask your students to make a sentence with the words "did" and "last night." → I did my homework last night.
  • Show the "cook" image. Then ask your students, "What is he doing?" → He is cooking. 

2. Switch Tenses

If students are reviewing multiple tenses, use the pictures to prompt students to change one tense to another. 

For example: 

  • Say or write: "Change ‘Does she brush her teeth in the morning?’ to the past tense." → Did she brush her teeth in the morning? 
  • Say or write: "Change ‘I did my homework last night’ to ‘every day.’" → I do my homework every day. 
  • Say or write: "Change ‘He is cooking’ to ‘last week.’" → He cooked last week.

3. Draw or Create Stories

Ask students to use simple drawings to express their daily routine or what they did yesterday. Remind students that their drawings don’t need to be artistic, but simply communicative. 

Here’s an example: 

daily routine drawings

Alternatively, you can print the images and ask students to put them in order.

Get your students to talk in pairs to explain their story. Then ask them to write sentences or a short text using the target grammar. 

For example: 

Yesterday I got up at 8:00 am. I brushed my teeth and had a shower. Then I had cereal and coffee for breakfast. 

How do you use pictures to prompt grammar in the classroom? Which of these tips are you most likely to use? Share your ideas with us in the comments below. 

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Comments (2)

Belen A.(Teacher)

So useful!! Thx a lot for sharing these tips <3

Reply to Comment

Tanya Trusler(Author)

We're happy to hear you found these tips useful, Belen! Thanks for your comment.

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