A picture is worth a thousand words

Recife in Sepia    Image by Roseli Serra for eltpics

‘Recife in Sepia’    Image by Roseli Serra for eltpics

We thought you’d like another post from Brazil…… :), this time from a prolific lady eltpics contributor who really needs little introduction. ‘To know her is to love her’ – and she’s even included a bio at the end of her post, so I don’t need to work too hard!

Roseli Serra is a star member of many teachers’ PLNs, she’s warm and caring and even if you’ve never met her face to face, as is my case, you feel like you’ve known her for years. So it is with great pleasure that I bring you ………. Roseli Serra! (I love this job..)

How it started:

Photography has always played a very important role in my life thanks to my husband, an eye doctor and amazing photographer who taught me how to take pics, the angles, how to focus and play with pictures.

In 2012 my life changed drastically. My professional life changed completely, my mom was recovering from breast cancer, and I was suddenly feeling lost. For me it was as if the floor had been taken from my feet, the world had stopped spinning and I did not know where to go or what direction to take.

I had joined FB a year before (in 2011), and had no idea or could not see how important this social network could be for the development of my professional life. It was when I started building my PLN, joined ELT interest groups and then became an active member of ELTpics. There I made real friends and have shared amazing knowledge. I had never heard about it before and, right in the middle of a new restarting in my life, I found something that really interested me and made me happy: Photography. Not only regular photographs. Instead, pics taken by teachers, for teachers and students, to be used in the classroom as one of the best hands-on resources ever. Coincidentally, at that time, Ceri Jones delivered a session at the Braz-TESOL Pernambuco chapter on how to use pictures in the classroom. In addition, she gave the audience lots of good tips on how to take good shots and what to do with them in the classroom.

Having been in the field for a long time, I remember looking for pictures in magazines, laminating them and making flaschards to present vocabulary or drill some pieces of language. A very time consuming task, the pictures were from magazines and very easily became out of date. More than ever we are living in the visual era, thanks to technology, the massive use of the internet, and Smartphones which take pics and share them easily. So ELTpics is there to be used in the classroom, with educational purposes.

How I’ve used ELT pics in the classroom: some simple ideas and activities:

1.  Ice breaker : Two pictures
Aim: To revise questions and physical descriptions
– Display the pic on the screen with the following prompts for the students to talk in pairs or groups.
Picture 1 (take an image from the set Feet and Footwear):
Who? How old? Where? What/ doing? What/ wear?/ What/ going to do? How / would /describe him/her/them?

Images by Fiona Mauchline and Hana Tichá for eltpics

Images by Fiona Mauchline and Hana Tichá for eltpics

Picture 2 :
Where? What time of the day? How / know? Weather like? What/ temperature? What can you see? How would you feel if you were there?

Image by Dace Praulins at eltpics

Image by Dace Praulins at eltpics


2. Story telling  – The Couple in the Picture

Image by Ian James for eltpics

Image by Ian James for eltpics

• SS get into the mind of the characters and write up their mental storyboard , which builds up the final image
Focus: Writing practice: Narrative tenses for story –making ( past simple, past continuous , past perfect
Group discussion: Show students a picture – we suggest one of the two given here. Present students with prompt words and sentences and have them discussing. After feedback to the whole class, each pair of students writes a story about the picture. (Depending on the level you can provide them with some vocabulary, idioms or any piece of language they are expected to use). Students exchange stories and tell the group their friends’ stories.
Follow up: Students compare and contrast their stories. As homework, students can choose a pic from ELTpics and create their own stories based on the pictures chosen.

Image by Roseli Serra for eltpics

Image by Roseli Serra for eltpics

Example prompt questions:
o Where?
o When / first meet?
o In what circumstances?
o How long/ together?
o Happy?
o What/ thinking?
o Feel: lonely? Loved? Cared?
o Imagine: their lifestyle? What’s it like?
o Does this couple remind you of someone you know? Who? Why?
o Would anybody approach them to talk? If so what would they talk about?

3.  My family photos
Focus: Examining the difference between two pictures
• To compare and contrast two or three pictures and use taught vocabulary such as prepositions of places, clothes, physical description, feelings, etc.
• To use narrative tenses to tell a story
• To create a story (together, if you wish) about the pictures or simply describe them.
– Show the students two photographs of the same family.
– Ask them to describe the photos using the vocabulary listed above – compare and contrast them.
– Set the time when the photos were taken and ask students to write a story about them.
–  As homework, students could repeat the procedure using their own photos and presenting to their classmates in the following class using PowerPoint presentation, Smore, Glogster, or paper.

Roseli fam


4. Who am I?

Image by Mieke Kenis at eltpics

Image by Mieke Kenis at eltpics

Outline: Students create a role for a person in an image, describing their character’s feelings and then guess the person chosen and developed by others.
Focus: Tense overview: uses of present continuous and future and construction such as
o I wish… / I regret…, hypothetical language: you must be… etc.
Level: Intermediate to advanced
o Show the students an image or 2 (display on the screen) in which different people are present.
o Each student, individually, chooses one of the people in the photo and thinks about him/her for a couple of minutes.
o Write some questions on the board so that students can practise different tenses:
Ex: What’s my name? Where am I? How am I feeling now? How do i relate to other people here? What will happen next? What do I regret? What do I wish for the world? Etc.
o Students write down the answers to the questions while teacher monitors their writing.
o Put students in groups and one student at a time reads about his/her work. The others have to guess who they are talking about by looking at the image on the screen.

The activities I’ve posted here are just a few of those I’ve done with my students using ELTpics. Pictures are also good for presenting language, introducing vocabulary, playing games and a lot more. Just let your imagination flow, use your creativity and enjoy your teaching!


Roseli Serra (@SerraRoseli) is an educator from and in Recife, Brazil. She’s an ELT consultant, E-Moderator, teacher, teacher trainer, mentor, Cambridge Examiner, and Materials Writer. Roseli has been in the field of ELT/ ESL and EFL for over 30 years now. She loves blogging, writing, mentoring, and mainly sharing about education. She loves working with photography and technology and teaches different age groups, from 10 year-old students to adults. She’s also the ESL Editor for Wandering Educators  and a monthly writer for the Richmond Share blog.

Bringing it back to the classroom

Image by Carla Arena for eltpics

Image by Carla Arena for eltpics

One of the first ELT blog posts I ever wrote was for an incredibly tall, almost Scottish-looking (blood runs thicker…) chap from Brasilia. We’d ‘met’ online, as he is an integral part of the vibrant, dynamic and incredibly friendly Brazilian EFL ‘set’ (more posts to come soon from other BRAZ-TESOL stars 😉 ) and he’d subsequently invited me to write about Sugata Mitra, Neil Postman and Scott Thornbury (a mighty trio, if ever there was one) – but I’d never been able to return the honour until now (I may need to make it two blog posts by this gent, though, considering how patient he was with my wandering words). He has also kindly supplied a Bio, which is included at the end of this post, so I’ll leave those particular details to him. Suffice it to say that I am very VERY pleased to finally be able to return the invitation to blog for us, and to welcome Henrick Oprea to Take a photo and….  Take a bow, Henrick 🙂


Using ELTPics in class

I can still remember the very first time I heard about ELTPics. At that time, I had mixed opinions about the initiative. On the one hand, I thought it was a wonderful chance for teachers to share their pictures and help other teachers and, consequently, allow for a lot more networking among English language teachers. On the other hand, if there were lots of teachers participating and submitting their pictures, it’d soon be hard for anyone to find a good picture in the photostream, which could put the idea to a halt…. Fortunately, there are brilliant people who diligently organise ELTPics and have made it an incredible resource for teachers worldwide. There’s no way we, teachers around the world, could thank these people enough for such a fantastic job.

It is on account of this organisation that English teachers have the chance to make use of images in their lessons even when they haven’t really got the time to look for the right picture to use when preparing the classes. I myself am constantly surprised by the high quality of these amazing photographers who also happen to be teachers (I know it’s the other way around, but once you have a look at the pics, you sort of wonder if it isn’t like this) and who are part of such a lively community.

Well, this is where it gets interesting. Images, as we all know, are very powerful tools we have at our disposal when teaching, and with ELTPics you can do things right out of the box, or you can also plan something a little bit more elaborate. Please, bear with me while I share some of the things that I’ve already done in class with ELTPics.

As soon as you open the photostream for the ELTPics Flickr account, you can click on the link to the albums. This is the image that greets you:

ELTpics albums

ELTpics albums

A quick look at the names of the albums will certainly make it crystal clear to you that the albums have been organised by English teachers and for English teachers. Are you teaching students about clothes? There’s an album for that. Emotions? You got it! Animals? Adjectives? Colours? It’s all there. This means that anytime you’re at a loss for a picture to better illustrate something while teaching, you don’t need to go to Google and hope to find a nice image there. A quick visit to ELTPics is likely to be a lot more effective. In addition to that, you’ll find that one image will lead to another and things are likely to escalate.

A quick activity: Telling a story

One area in which ELTPics has come in handy was when teaching students verbs and actions. There’s an album labelled -ing, which, as you’ve probably guessed, contains lots of pictures (more than a thousand pictures, actually), to illustrate what people are doing. I’ve used this album in class when discussing with students about actions and verbs in English. It’s always been very useful as students have to go out of their comfort zone and remember that there’s more than studying, sleeping, eating and working. One of the things I like doing when working with this album is:

  1. Students work in pairs or groups of three. Tell them they are going to take turns developing a story, and that you will show them photos as prompts to help them make up the story. They are to make it up as they go along, as if it were unfolding at that very moment, and they have to give as many details as possible.
  2. Explain to the students that while one group member is speaking, the others just listen. When the teacher shows a new picture, another student has to take over and tell the same story from where the previous student stopped.
  3. Write this (or a similar) sentence on the board and tell them that it is the beginning
    Image by @web2literacy for ELTpics

    Image by @web2literacy for ELTpics

    of the story: “Jack knew this was going to be a very different day for him. He woke up and there was no one in the house, so he ….” You may want to show them this picture to set the scene. One of the students in the group starts telling the story.

  4. If you haven’t pre-selected the pictures, keep the album open in the computer and choose the pictures based on what you can hear from the groups as you monitor.

When I did this activity, I changed pictures every 20-30 seconds, but I’d advise paying attention to the production of the students to realise how long you should leave each picture on the screen. As a follow-up, groups could write their stories for classmates to read.

Longer activity: Speculate!!!

One of the main difficulties that my Cambridge Exam students have is talking about the pictures. To be honest, I’ve even tried asking them to do the task in their L1, and it was just as disastrous as in English. I knew I had to get them to talk as much as possible about pictures they’re not so comfortable with and this is another activity in which ELTPics can be helpful owing to the quality of the pictures. For this activity, you can choose pictures from two different albums: Predictions and Every Picture Tells a Story. This is how it goes.

  1. Choose a picture to start the activity with. I usually choose a picture which is a bit harder for students as I’ll be guiding them through this first stage. This is one of the pictures I’ve started the activity with (see right).

    Image by Laura Soracco for ELTpics

    Image by Laura Soracco for ELTpics

  2. Ask your students the following questions:   1. What can you see in the picture?  2. What do you think that will happen next?  3. Why has someone decided to boil the water?
  3.  Discuss with your students the difference between being certain about something and speculating about something. Brazilian students, for example, have difficulties using language for speculating. After having this discussion with them, I usually show them this activity that I’d described in 2009. If you choose not to do the activity, make sure you teach them chunks to speculate about pictures. These are some of the chunks I usually teach them:
  • I’m under the impression that ….
  • It seems to me that ….
  • I believe ….
  • It may/might be ….
  • It looks like ….
  • It comes across as ….
  • It’s probably ….

[Note from Editor: The FCE exam is changing in 2015, and speculating will be replaced by comparing & contrasting two images – you may want to use two photos and focus on language of similarities and differences, at that time.]

4. Tell students you’ll show them 10 different pictures in which they must do the following:

  • 10 seconds: Describe the picture.
  • 20 seconds: choose one of the questions:  What is likely to happen?    What might have happened before this?
  1. If possible, ask students to record themselves for each picture. After the second picture, remind students to use the chunks you’d work on. Do this as often as necessary. Alternatively, you can have the chunks written on the board and point to the ones you want your students to use for that picture in particular.

These were the pictures I used the last time I did this activity:

Images from ELTpics - see end of post for credits and links

Images from ELTpics – see end of post for credits and links

If your students recorded themselves, ask them to listen to their recordings – from first to last – and have them tell you if they managed to use appropriate language for speculation more frequently as the activity progressed. I use Evernote with my students to record what they’ve produced. If you have a premium account, you can create and share a notebook with each student of yours. If you want to use the free version, ask them to create a notebook and share it with you so you can also listen to their production.

[Note from Editor: For the new First for English (FCE) exam, you could play a game after this activity, whereby students think of as many similarities & differences between the 10 pictures – but from memory. ‘I think that in the fourth picture, the people were dressed in a similar way to the people in picture 8. The fifth picture was of a relaxed, happy group of people, whereas the sixth picture showed quite the opposite. etc.]

So there you have it. These are some of the ways in which ELTPics has helped me in my classes. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a hundred of other examples as soon as you start exploring the albums. I said it once and I’ll say it again: the organisers of ELTPics manage to make the job of using pictures in the classroom extremely easy and straightforward. All you have to do now is start using them!


Henrick Oprea has been working in ELT since 1997. He has a post-graduate degree from the University of Birmingham and he is an associate at iTDi. He works as a freelancer in Brasília and his main areas of interest are teacher education, exam classes and theories of teaching and learning. He believes that teachers are the ones who make the difference in any classroom, and this is why he is keen on sharing. He blogs about education and ELT at http://hoprea.wordpress.com, and you can also find him on Twitter (@hoprea), Facebook and Instagram, where he occasionally shares pictures of boards from his classes.

Credits and links to images in the mosaic (for other links, click on the images)

All images for ELTpics by:

Ice cream boy by  Hana Tichá
Dog on rock by Anne Paton                                                                                                 Teatime by Julia Aliverti                                                                                                      Dog and pizza by  Hana Tichá                                                                                      Pair statue by Sandy Millin                                                                                           Men in conversation by Ian James                                                                             Nuns with cellphones by Ian James                                                                           Multi-Ian by Ian James                                                                                                   Cat & Dog Love by Steve Nickodemski                                                            Tussle/Play-fighting by Sandy Millin

Back in business

After a fairly long hiatus, which has seen massive ELTpics growth (over 17,300 images now in the resource, 101 sets, 1,250 members of the Facebook group….though the Twitter feed is largely silent), Take a photo and… is back, with three posts lined up already.

The first of this new-burst-of-life batch of posts is by ELT author, New Jersey girl and, more relevantly, IATEFL BESIG lady, Marjorie Rosenberg, who we had the honour of welcoming as the 1000th member of our Facebook group. 1,000! With IATEFL (Harrogate 2014) not long over, it seems a good time to bring Marjorie to the blog, by way of thanking her for all the work she does for the SIG.  I leave you in her very capable hands.

Colours on the beach.  Image by Marjorie Rosenberg at ELTpics

Colours on the beach. Image by Marjorie Rosenberg at ELTpics


The wonderful world of ELT Pics

Marjorie Rosenberg

Being a true digital immigrant meant that my first introduction to a smart phone was

Tzatziki. Image by Vicky Loras at ELTpics.

Tzatziki. Image by Vicky Loras at ELTpics.

nothing short of overwhelming. Luckily I had bought one shortly before going on holiday to Greece and when I spotted a similar one being used by a windsurfing friend, I jumped at the possibility of asking if he could help. This turned into daily lessons at the local taverna over Greek salads and tzatziki and soon I was using Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis.

One day I noticed something called eltpics on my Twitter feed and saw they were asking for contributions for their collection of free, crowd-sourced photos. Great idea, I thought, as the copyright issue is one that crops up again and again in ELT. As I had just learned how to take a photo and then attach it to a tweet, I began happily looking about at the beautiful scenery and sending off tweets to the hashtag eltpics.  Then the request came for pics showing colours and that brought a new challenge as the sea and the sand did not offer a lot of variety. Luckily, there was an extremely creative holiday-maker on the beach who began creating wonderful creatures out of the natural clay which could be found at the base of the nearby hill. The creative work went on for a couple of days and once the masterpieces had dried he took out a set of paints and he and his two young sons got to work. By the end of the first week the beach began to be filled with colourful creatures of all shapes and sizes. And I was lucky enough to be able to photograph them and send them off to eltpics.

Key and fob. Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics.

Key and fob. Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics.

When I got back other projects were waiting for completion and I didn’t get the chance to take or send photos but one day after seeing some reminders about the weekly topics took a look at the website and lo and behold, there were my pictures, a sight which was really thrilling to see. Although these pictures were not the first project of mine which was published there was something very special about being included in this collection put together by other teachers around the globe and I felt like I had truly arrived in the big league, that crowd of those well-known educators in my PLN.

However, work took over again and I didn’t get a chance to do much about my photos or using those of others.  Then at an IATEFL SIG coordinators meeting last autumn we discussed the problem of SIGs and copyrighted materials. There had been various suggestions of how to help IATEFL members find out about Creative Commons and what they are allowed to use for educational purposes. I suggested that we tell everyone about eltpics as it is a wonderful resource. In the meantime I have learned how to use it myself thanks to the very helpful crowd running the show and will be showing some of the pictures as part of my next power point presentation. I was looking for everyday items and found a photo of a key by Victoria Boobyer and then I needed something about music and discovered a great photo of a cat orchestra by Sandy Millin, both of which will be making their debut in a few weeks at a workshop for teachers in Israel.

A Band of Cats.  Image by Sandy Millin at ELTpics

A Band of Cats. Image by Sandy Millin at ELTpics

I think this is a truly brilliant project and one of the reasons I still love working in ELT after over 30 years is the cooperation and collaboration found among teachers world-wide. Although we only get to meet up f2f at events (at least those lucky enough to be able to travel to them) the idea of setting up a website to provide people with free, useful and fun materials is something to be commended. I am very proud to be the one thousandth person to have joined the Facebook page.  What an honour!


Keep taking the pills…

Get your ches'nuts 'ere..

Get your ches’nuts ‘ere..  Image by @fionamau at ELTpics

As October draws to a close and, here in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn fills the air with smells of wood-smoke, roast chestnuts, wet leaves, our world of food undergoes a subtle shift too. Salads are replaced by soups, pulses and stews push lighter fare aside, chilled beer is usurped by red wine (and tea, of course); the harvest season ends with its various festivals celebrating and giving thanks – for crops, for grapes, for hops… – in time for Persephone’s period in hiding. .. Sorry, it’s an autumnal mood thing 😉

Anyway, in keeping with that, and to bring together the close of the IATEFL Global Issues SIG’s Food Issues Month, ELTpics’ third birthday (I’ve just uploaded eltpic number 16,000!!), and this blog’s second, I’ve done the opposite of Persephone and come out of hiding. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome, as guest blogger, and old friend of mine whose name has become more and more familiar over the years. More Global, in fact…. Curiously, one of the first times I met Lindsay, we were dealing with a food issue – helping a hotel manager translate after a cranky English-speaking client had thrown a bowl of soup at a waitress! A fortuitous bowl, as it turned out, as Lindsay has been amongst the people I call ‘friends’ ever since. Lindsay is a prolific contributor to our profession, and has been for a number of years: involved in and fronting various successful adult coursebooks, participating in iT’s for Teachers, onestopenglish and a handful of resource books, Lindsay is now one of the people at the helm of The Round, which was a nominee for the prestigious 2013 ELTons awards. I leave you in his capable hands.


It’s interesting how sometimes the smallest thing can set off an idea that just won’t go away. In my case it was the following photo in eltpics, taken by Ann Loseva.

Full of beans   Image by Anna Loseva at ELTpics.

Beans? Pills? Hallucination?    Image by Ann Loseva at ELTpics.

I have been moderating the IATEFL Global Issues SIG event on Food Issues. When I saw this image with the following title: Beans? Pills? Hallucination? I couldn’t stop thinking about food pills. I started doing some reading on it. Did you know that in the late 1800s food pills were once a dream of the early feminists? Food pills could therefore easily be a Food Issues lesson! A couple of days later, here is the result. Enjoy!

Lindsay Clandfield, October 2013

Food pills – a lesson idea inspired by eltpics for Food Issues Month.

Preparation: For this short activity you need the photo above, taken from eltpics (photo by Ann Loseva). You could also do the interesting background reading Meal-in-a-pill at the BBC.

Optional preparation: Bring in a selection of dried beans or pills to be used as realia (see variation stage 4)

Level: B1 +

Stage one:

Tell learners you have a photo of an object that you want to show them. Before you do, explain that the object in question could be interpreted in different ways. Tell them you are going to suggest different interpretations of this object. Can they guess what it is?

Read the following sentences out. Emphasize that these are all interpretations of the SAME object.

It’s an object that liberates women from work in the kitchen.

It’s an object of a terrifying future world, where people don’t get any pleasure from eating.

It’s a solution for the world’s food crisis.

It’s a more efficient way of eating so you have more free time for other things.

It’s a dangerous object that has lots of chemicals in it.

An object that people use to control their eating, so they don’t eat so much.

Can learners guess what it is?

Stage two:

Show or project the photo and the list of interpretations. Put students in groups of three or four and ask them to choose one of the interpretations and give more reasons to support that interpretation. They should try and come up with at least three reasons. Allow around five minutes for this, then feedback as a group.

Stage three:

Explain that the concept of food pills is one that has been interpreted in all these different ways in science fiction and society. Ask the class which of the interpretations they think is most interesting/relevant/improbable.

If you like, you could assign the reading at this moment or as a follow up to the lesson.

Stage four:

Put students back into pairs and display the photo again. Give each pair one of the following questions (on a piece of paper).

Imagine these three pills contain all the taste and nutrients of an amazing three-course meal. Describe what that meal would be.

Imagine these three pills are medicine that could help people who have problems with food or eating. What would each pill do?

Imagine you work for a corporation that sells these “meals-in-pills”. What would your marketing strategy be? Identify the people who would most likely buy these pills, and the arguments you would use to sell them.

Imagine you live in a future where these pills are the way all humans consume food. What would be the causes of this situation? What would be the consequences? Think of three of each.

Variation: If you have brought pills or dried beans to class give each pair three of them. They can use them in their presentation in stage four.

Stage five:

Ask pairs to present their ideas to the rest of the class and feedback.

Lindsay Clandfieldissues-month-final-5-500px

If you’d like to add a class-plan using ELTpics and working on Food Issues, as a way of extending the GISIG’s great idea, and to thank them, and Lindsay, for allowing  us to participate, please send me a message via Twitter (@fionamau) or Facebook (you can find me via the ELTpics Facebook page).


Korea calling

Another great guest blogger, Mike Griffin is based in Seoul and is a key figure behind the blossoming #KELTchat, an ELT chat for teachers in Korea. He’s also got an unmissable, ‘must-read’ blog. I’m so glad he agreed to write for Take a photo and…, particularly as he hasn’t actually used ELTpics much, and it’s wonderful to see the thinking through of how he could actually incorporate the resource. Have a read and then please do add your own thoughts in the comments box below. How could YOU use ELTpics? Over to Mike:
I’ve  never even owned a camera. Well, there was that one time I borrowed an old one from my sister just before departing on a trip sometime in the late 90’s. I promptly lost it and have never gotten around to buying another one. I guess I am not really all that into photos or photography. Most likely, you didn’t click on the #ELTpics website to read about my history with photography so I will stop there. I noticed #ELTpics quite early on in my journey with social media for professional development. I don’t think it is much of a coincidence that the folks most involved in #ELTpics are such great connectors, role models, bloggers, photographers, sharers, and, indeed, people. I thought they were doing cool stuff before I was actually fully aware of #ELTpics. I thought it was a brilliant idea before I really know what it was about.  When I figured out (by “figured out” I mean I took 2 minutes to read the blog) what #ELTpics was about I loved it even more. I was inspired to get involved and to use the site as much as possible for my classes. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite managed to use #ELTpics much in class for a variety of reasons (mostly related to a lack of internet in certain rooms and a lack of projectors in others and a lack of pre-planning coupled with a surplus of laziness on my part).

I have actually only used #ELTpics in class once. Just once in 18 months. A question came up in class (in a classroom that had easy internet access) and I remembered seeing a picture (from @aclilltoclimb, I believe) I thought would help clarify things a bit. I took a minute or two to find the picture I had seen a few days before, found it, put it up on the screen to the knowing nods of approval from my students. That is my one and only experience using #ELTpics in class so far. I hope to try out a few things in the next few months and I will mention some ideas I have for this later on in this post.

I have used #ELTpics for blogging a few times. Among my favorites was this one by Victoria Boobyer.

Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics

Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics

It was great to search by emotion and find exactly what I was looking for!

I have also used #ELTpics for presentations from time to time and I greatly appreciate it as a resource. A lot of the photos are breathtaking and provide a nice respite from Powerpoint slides filled with words.  In a recent presentation I was able to use #ELTpics photos to spice things up. Since the audience sort of “ohhed” at times when I changed slides  I think they had the impact I was hoping for.
(Photos by @annehendler)


Both images contributed by Anne Hendler

Both images contributed by Anne Hendler

As you can see the original photos (below, by @nina_septina and @theteacherjames respectively) are much more beautiful and striking without me in them!

Image by @nina_septina at ELTpics

Image by @nina_septina at ELTpics

Image by James Taylor (@theteacherjames) at ELTpics

Image by James Taylor (@theteacherjames) at ELTpics

I am keen to try out #ELTpics in class and I have been bouncing ideas around in my head for a while now. I have three main ideas I’d like to share.

1) The first idea is related to having students do a pecha kucha using the pics.  Instead of simply having students use the pictures to create their own pecha kuchas (which is a fine idea itself) I would like to add a bit of a twist. Instead of students choosing their own topic and scouring #ELTpics for pictures to match it, I would like to flip this around and have other students organize the slides for their peers. This means that the speakers could get a set of slides that is intentionally random. I think this would promote a lot of creative thinking and fun. I also think the considerable challenge of the task could act as a way of relieving stress because the task is already hard so students might feel that they can just give it a go and have some fun with it. I am already imagining students deviously creating a collection of pictures with no apparent connection. I might consider adapting it to 10 slides rather than the standard 20 for this. (Shout out to Alex Walsh, who I discussed a similar idea with in relation to as yet to occur inaugural #KELTchat Conference. Actually, our idea was even more devious, speakers would not have any time to see the slides before doing the pecha kucha and would have to speak extemporaneously as the slides appear. Not for the faint of heart.)

2) One activity that I like to do from time to time in class is to choose three or four related words and ask students to choose the “odd one out.” I was thinking it might be fun and useful to do the same with pictures. The #ELTpics collections could be particularly well-suited to this activity. I am imagining printing out the photos or just having them on screen and asking students to select the “odd one” and explain why they have done so. I can imagine students would have a wide variety of criteria and this might be a nice, safe nudge to have students explain the reasons for their decisions.

3) I love having students and training course participants make posters in class. I like it for English classes and like it even more for teacher training sessions. This is something I started doing in the past few years and I have probably gone a bit overboard at times with it in terms of frequency and duration. Perhaps #ELTpics could be a part of my poster creation toolkit. The first idea that comes to mind is to have students/trainees  choose pictures  from the site and print them off and add them to their posters. The second, more digital idea, is to have students create a digital poster. Of course a picture from #ELTpics could figure prominently in the design. Part of the reason I am so interested in doing this with training course participants is because here in Korea public school teachers are typically expected to have flashy presentations and I think an eye-catching picture from #ELTpics would surely fit the bill.

Unfortunately,  I don’t think most teachers in Korea are familiar with this great resource. I am adding this to my goals. In addition to trying out some ideas in my own classes I am hoping to introduce more and more teachers to #ELTpics. Thanks for reading and please wish me luck  with my goals. I will be sure to report how it goes. Much gratitude, respect and love for everyone involved.
(Picture by @senicko)

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at ELTpics

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at ELTpics

Burning questionnaires

Mosaics from Burning Questionnaires by Ian James, Anne Robinson, Ceri Jones and Dale Coulter


I consider myself a Dogme teacher, it’s what interests me, or, more than that, it’s what motivates me, and, even when not in ‘full Dogme mode’, the principles behind Dogme underly my teaching philosophy and practice. I firmly believe in the student’s right to choose, to learn in their own way, to be respected by their teacher(s) and not simply treated like ‘just one more’, but of course most of us work within the constraints of an institution, with a syllabus, a coursebook, tests to be passed, a Director of Studies (and parents) to be kept happy, boxes to tick. In my ‘institutional’ work, I have a coursebook, but also a very open-minded, ‘tuned-in’ DoS who is happy to allow me to be as learner-orientated as I wish / they need, but my classes are generally of 20+ students, so true personalisation is on a student-by-student-per-class basis, or by applying a type of democracy. Not so in my one-to-one classes. Pure Dogme (or Dogme 2.0, as I always have my laptop to hand and my students usually arrive armed with smartphones and/or iPads) is par for the course (with a Plan B, just in case), and the ELTpics suite of resources is a big ingredient in some of the more successful lessons.

The other day I was talking to a student, a journalist by profession, about the interview blog, the Burning Questionnaire (*for the origin of The Burning Questionnaire, see the end of this post) – I can’t remember why, but as a journalist, we may have been talking about – hey – interviews. We went into the blog, and I showed him some of the mosaics chosen by interviewees (see above for examples), and we spoke about what they might say about those people. My student’s curiosity was piqued, so we read Dale Coulter’s interview. I hadn’t particularly noticed the language in Dale’s answers – the blog is aimed at ELT people after all – but my student found it fascinating. He is of what used to be called Intermediate or Upper Intermediate level – B1 or B2, depending on the day – and he enjoyed reading chunks out loud and playing with the pronunciation, for example with Dale’s description of Vince Vaughan in Swingers as an ‘outrageously misogynistic character’ (and this reviewed the word ‘tongue-twister’ from an earlier lesson..). We spoke about music, motivation, why we become what we become, professionally, and about the film – and book – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. My student (J.R.) was genuinely interested in Mr Coulter, to the extent that we decided to read another interview and compare them. Ian James was our next subject, and my student was even keener, particularly upon reading Ian’s musical tastes, as J.R is a music buff with even more musical knowledge than the guys in High Fidelity. Ian’s explanation for where it all started brought mirth, then

Scribblings.    From an image by Fiona Mauchline at eltpics (click for full image)

Scribblings.    From an image by Fiona Mauchline at eltpics (click for full image)

the musical recommendations agreement; vocabulary items were discussed ‘scribblings’, ‘pews’, ‘toad-in-the-hole’, and we compared notes on Ian’s recommended films, particularly as one of them is set here in Extremadura, more language chunks for pronunciation, the meaning of inspiration, and just who WAS (IS) Jenny Agutter

I asked J.R if he fancied writing his own answers to the Burning Questionnaire, and he agreed, seeming quite keen after having read two examples and, I think, been impressed by the eloquence of the ‘average’ ELT person 🙂 I slightly modified the questions to suit a journalist rather than a teacher. and emailed them to him. A day or two later, he sent me his first draft, and we looked through it in class, without writing on it in any way. I pointed out areas that I felt could be improved on, either in language or spelling, and we discussed his answers in terms of content, much as we had discussed Dale’s and Ian’s. After class, I highlighted in yellow the areas we’d suggested he improve on, and he redrafted his answers. Very few errors remained. I sent a quick email querying a couple of things and he sent me his final draft, and his choice of four ELTpics. I have asked his permission to reproduce his work below. And believe me, this is a student who is B1- B2, but you can see how his imagination has been caught by the writings of Messers Coulter and James, and how the desire to write well shines through. If you have any one-to-one classes, or perhaps even groups well managed (reading and discussing in smaller groups), you may like to try this idea. It certainly worked for J.R.

My Student’s Burning Questionnaire (NB this is his third draft, uncorrected, and presented in the same way as those on the Burning Questionnaire blog, with his mosaic and individual images):


What is your full name, and where did it all start?

José Ramón Valdivia González, heir to a dynasty of conquerors from Extremadura. Hahahaha. One of my history teachers told me that my ‘great, great, great grandfather’ Pedro de Valdivia, conqueror –or defiler of Chile, as we see- was killed by the natives, who used his bones to make cups, plates… cookware . I guess it all started there.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

Depends if I’m alone in the car or not. With (my wife), rumba and singers like Pablo Alborán. It’s a dictatorship. When I can choose – most of the time- I turn on my iPod, connect it to Chevrolet and and let the music play randomly: Sigur Ros, Love of Lesbian,

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Maga, Belle and Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Dylan …

When I cook, I do the same. Sometimes I prefer flamenco, especially Camaron, El Cabrero and Poveda. By the way, ‘Three daggers’ is a masterpiece. “I’ve bought three daggers for you to give me death. The first: indifference. The second: betrayal. And the third: stainless steel if you have courage”. Great! I have recommended this song to all my friends.

Do not usually look at my belly button … metaphorically, either.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

Satisfying: Communicating. Informing citizens and stimulating their analytical and critical capability.

Frustrating: Seeing every day unscrupulous businessmen who do not know the mass media are demolishing the foundations of good journalism and democracy.

Writing or on the air? Why?

Both of them. I still haven`t found what I’m looking for. Today, I prefer to fly on the air. Tomorrow, who knows… But always writing.

A teacher from your schooldays:

It’s hard to say, but none of my teachers — and I’ve had dozens- influenced me. In none of did I find that mixture of passion and knowledge to become a reference in my life. I barely remember the names of ten or twelve.

What was the first thing you learnt as a journalist?

Absolute truth does not exist. Nor does objectivity.

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

What motivates/inspires you most?

The good people always motivate me and inspire me. Every day I search for them in the pages of newspapers, on the television news, on the streets, in the family, among my friends…

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

Many times. Especially with emotion. With ‘Schindler’s list’, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘It’s a wonderful life’… The list is very long. My private little secret (not anymore) is related to a Jennifer Lopez’s movie called ‘Maid in Manhattan’. I’ve seen this film twice and I cried both. She is an immigrant hotel maid and a famous congressman falls in love with her. Cheesy, no?

Your favourite meal? Where? And perhaps with whom?

A good stew of chickpeas, with their meat and vegetables. With good wine, of course. Best at home. Although I would say that the most pleasant culinary moment is when Mati and I eat paella at the beach bar in Aguablanca (Ibiza).

A dream?

See my son become a honest, honorable and happy man.

Favourite film?

I will not be original: The Godfather saga. Under the excuse of the mafia and the family, the three films complete a metaphor for life, with their miseries and greatnesses. Few days ago, when Ratzinger flew, I remembered the third movie. If we talk about Spanish cinema, I love –and hate– ‘Los santos inocentes’, because it’s masterful and reflects the Extremadura that should never exist again. Not everything is going to be drama. ‘The front page’, from Billy Wilder, is the best comedy I’ve ever seen. Oops, I said five movies … and

Image by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) at eltpics

Image by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) at eltpics

all, including the last, are dramas. I’m sorry.

A sport?

Rugby, because it contains all the human values ​​that I cant`t find in football or basketball. In rugby, players fight to the death to win, but always respecting the opponent, without tricks. Also, this historic sport has managed to integrate new technologies to solve problems. Basketball begins to do it. In football, it’s unthinkable. Football is another world. “Football is football”, said the historic coach Helenio Herrera.

Beach, mountains or city?

Beach, of course. It is the ideal of every ‘extremeño de dehesa’. Few things are comparable to a day at the beach, swimming, talking to friends, reading a book, having a beer at the beach bar and watching the sunset. In Ibiza or Zahara better.

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at eltpics

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at eltpics

Day or night?

The night, because the night belongs to lovers, as legendary musicians like Patty Smith, The Boss or Natalie Merchant have sung. At night, I find the necessary solitude to cultivate my spirit, or to destroy it. I always find inspiration, peace and food for my life. Also at night I have shared the best moments with my family and friends. Definitely, I’m a vampire.


* The Burning Questionnaire was originally a feature in an old ‘webzine’ of mine called The Atlantic Forum, back in the day (about 12 years ago, I think). Apart from articles on ELT and news, I used to ask a ‘Name’ in ELT to do The Burning Questionnaire, and ‘victims’ back then included Mario Rinvolucri and Mark Hancock, whose BQs I still have on my computer 🙂 When Take a photo and… was about a year old, I decided to reuse the format with contributors to this blog, and hey presto. SO be warned, all contributors past, present and future; your turn will come….. 😉

Fiona Mauchline 2013

Newsflash: ELTons 2013 nomination

Well, what a wonderful surprise. The ELTpics suite of resources for teachers, including

Click on the image for more information about the 2013 ELTon Awards.

Click on the image for more information about the 2013 ELTon Awards.

this blog, has made it to the shortlist of nominees for an ELTon, so we’ll be there at the ceremony in London in May.

Literally hundreds of teachers from around the world have helped make ELTpics the resource it is, and we’d like to thank each and every one of you.

Thank you.

Fiona, on behalf of the eltpics curators.

Interactive techno-travels

Paul Braddock is one of the brains (brainses?) behind the British Council’s wonder-web TeachingEnglish, a former ‘Barefoot blogger’, a teacher based in Barcelona, webinar host extraordinaire and all-round nice guy – and it’s a great pleasure to include his post amongst the collection of guest posts we’re so lucky to have on Take a photo and…  So without further ado……. Paul Braddock.


This is a lesson I’ve used a few times using the ‘Bridges’ collection. It has always worked well and can be adapted for a range of levels & contexts. It is a more tech-integrated way to focus on the topic of travel and gives students a chance to personalise their learning.

Stage 1

paulbridge1Show students the six different pictures of bridges. Ask them to choose just one of the pictures they like and ask them to try and guess where the picture was taken.

After conducting feedback and writing their guesses on the board (next to the picture if you’re using an IWB), show the pictures with the correct locations below.

paulbridge2Put students into pairs and ask them to choose one or two of the photos. They should make notes about the place(s) they have chosen, including facts they know about the country together with some ideas about why they would like to go to their chosen locations, or what they might expect the place to be like. You can use simple sentence heads to guide them:

  • What I know about X is that it is / has…
  • If I went on holiday to X, I would…
  • One reason I would like to go to X is…

While they are working with their partner, place the individual bridge pictures around the room. This will give you an opportunity to listen to the different discussions without it looking like you are monitoring too closely.

When they have finished (give them about 5 minutes), form new groups of students and invite them to give feedback on what they had been discussing to their new partners by walking around the room, stopping at the different pictures they chose and talking about what they had written in their notes.

Explain to students that they are going to find out more things about one of the places shown in the pictures. Make a list with the class of things that they would want to know if they were going to a place. If you have slightly less motivated students, you could do this as a ranking exercise by giving them a list of things they might want to know and asking them to put the list in order of importance.

  1. Night-life
  2. Recommended Sights (monuments, squares, etc.)
  3. Cost (hotels, meals, public transport)
  4. Shopping (the best places for x, y, z)
  5. Restaurants / food you should try
  6. Galleries / museums
  7. Festivals & Celebrations
  8. The people
  9. ?
  10. ?

Stage 2

Once you have a list of 8-10 things, or you have finished the ranking activity, tell the students that they are going to find out some of these facts by researching them. A problem I often find with these kind of “we’re going to the computer room so you can do some research” activities is that there is often very little communication going on in English between students. To a large extent, an overuse of L1 is sometimes unavoidable, although this is also true of activities conducted in the classroom. At the same time, there is a tendency for students to look on websites written in their own language, or to simply copy and paste text without even understanding the gist. To avoid this, it is important to give students clear tasks with tangible outcomes. For example, in this activity, where students are being asked to look at different websites to gather information, I tend to give them the url’s for a small number of sites via a sticky wall (see below) and tell them to use only these few sites to conduct their research.

paulbridge3This avoids long periods of time spent on Google looking for relevant sites. There is still the issue of understanding the content, but if students choose the ‘copy & paste option’, you should build in activities that focus on some of the vocabulary and also allow for students to develop their summarising skills.

Once your students have made their relevant notes, either on their own virtual sticky wall or in their notebooks, tell them that they are going to create a virtual display highlighting FOUR key facts about the city they have researched.

Go to popplet.com which, if you don’t know it, is a fantastic online mindmap resource. It is incredibly simple to use and is free! In the computer room, if you are still there, or in the classroom if you have an IWB or data projector, demonstrate the different features to the students by building a mind map for one of the locations the students didn’t choose as in the popplet below of Tokyo

paulbridge4If you are still in the computer room, give students time to sign up for an account. Go through with them again how to use the site and then give them a time-limit for creating their Popplet. Ideally, it should include some video content and images as well as a small summary sentence to go with each image or video.

Stage 3

Explain to your class that, now they have compiled interesting information about their chosen location, they now have to get back home. Tell them this is not as simple as getting on a plane and flying back to their home town.

In order to get back home, they need to travel by four different means of transport.

Elicit the different possibilities (boat, train, plane, bus, hot-air balloon(!), etc.).

Tell them that each group will be competing to see who can travel home the quickest using the different forms of travel and also spend the least money. Obviously at this point, any students that have chosen Venice, for example, will be smiling at those who chose Vietnam.

If this happens and you have groups travelling back from a nearby country, make sure you give any group that chose a nearby destination 4-6 hour penalty as well as a suitable amount of your country’s currency as a forfeit.

Students should plot their journey home on the Popplet they have created and demonstrate they have researched travel options by explaining how they travelled, how much the journey cost and how long it took as well as one interesting fact about each place they stop (see example Popplet below).

paulbridge5The nice thing about Popplet happens that you can share your canvas with anyone who also has an account and allow that person to edit it. This makes it a perfect activity for students to do at home if you run out of time in class or if you are teaching online. If you look at the different ‘popples’ on the popplet, you can see the name of the person who created it, so you know (if it is a homework task) who has put some effort in and who has slacked off!

Anyway, once students have finished their journeys home, ask them to give a small presentation outlining how they travelled and some of the interesting information they came up with. Total up their full journey time and cost and announce the winners.

What I like about this activity

  • There is a lot of room for personalisation. Students are able to ‘choose’ at pretty much every point – which image do they like? where do they want go & why? Travel options, choice of information to represent on the popplet…
  • A lot of rich language emerges from the activities – describing the pictures (useful for exam classes), travel & transport vocabulary, sequencing events (we started in… then we travelled by boat to… after we had arrived in… etc.)
  • A number of skills are used (reading for gist, summarising skills, presentation skills, agreeing/disagreeing, working collaboratively (either face-to-face or remotely), selecting & justifying.
  • There is a harmless competitive element to the final activity which motivates the students to do the task well.
  • There is the option to spend time at the popplet-creation stage to focus on copyright and copyright-free images that can be used.

(For an earlier Take a photo and… post on using the Bridges set with ESP learners, see here.)

eltpics used in ‘bridges’ worksheet

  • NY bridges by @shaunwilden
  • Rainbow bridge, Tokyo by @pacogascon
  • French bridge in Vietnam by @elt_pics
  • Venice by @mkofab
  • Bosphorus bridge by @arzuteacher
  • Dublin by @mkofab

Images used in Popplet

  • Tokyo Tower by Another side of yukita
  • Kimonos by starfires
  • Cosplay Parade by chooyutshing
  • Lunch at the station by @grahamstanley

A coursebook in the life of

How to introduce this guest blogger when in fact he has saved me the job, and kindly added a short bio at the end of his article? Adam, who is based in Istanbul, is one of those people you meet on Twitter or Facebook (@yearinthelifeof) and you feel you just have to meet in real life too (and not only because Tweedeck flatly refuses to let me see his avatar photo 😉 ). Always a source of interesting references, blog posts and musical titbits, I have actually yet to meet him (so many reasons to go back to Istanbul one day…..), but am extremely pleased to be able to welcome Adam to Take a photo and… in the same month as the British Council ‘TeachingEnglish’ team has shortlisted him for the Blog of the Month ‘accolade’. So, it’s over to Adam………….


    How do you work with your course book? Do you ever get your learners to look forward to coming units in anticipation, or do you take each unit – or even the coming page – as it comes? While books are organized in a certain way to promote their linear, chronological use, there are benefits to looking ahead to what’s coming up. With this is mind, here’s one easy activity that I’ve used to get your learners actively talking about their coursebook in a positive and engaging way.

First, I’m going to describe the procedure of the activity, and then I’ll tell you why it’s so beneficial.

What you need

Go to ELT Pics and have a look around. Now that there are more than 11,000 pictures available, you have a good chance of finding something that will fit your needs.

Choose a bunch of pictures based on the contents of your course book contents. Naturally, the number and content will depend on what comes up in your book.

How to proceed

I’ll describe how I did this in the context of my own book.

  • My course book is split into two books, each book containing five units. Each unit is split into four inputs, each focusing on either reading or listening.

  • At the start of the semester I found four pictures for each unit, one for each input.

  • I had sixteen learners in the class, so I put them into four groups of four.

  • To get them into the activity, we all looked at the pictures I’d chosen for unit one.

  • Each group got a copy of the set and had to:

    • Decide what each picture could represent

    • Decide what could possibly connect the four pictures

  • After several minutes of discussion in groups, they shared their ideas among one another.

Here are the pictures I used:

Images at #eltpics by @CliveSir @senicko @Notyetlanguage and @eannegrenoble

Images at #eltpics by @CliveSir @senicko @Notyetlanguage and @eannegrenoble

So, what do you make of those four pictures? Can you guess what the theme of the unit is?

Well done! The subject of the unit is indeed education. Now, can you assign one of the photographs to each of these four headings?

  1. Education today

  2. Intelligence in seven steps

  3. Restructuring education: Rationale and methods

  4. The future of learning

There are no correct answers at this point; all learners need to do is to connect a picture to one of these headings and try to justify why they made that choice. The important thing here is making a connection between the image and the thing they will be studying at a later point.

Here’s how I continue:

  • I assign a set of pictures to each group, one set representing four images for one of the other course book units.

  • They looked at the pictures and decided an overall theme for their unit.

  • Each group received the headings of the reading and listening content of their unit and allocated one picture to each heading.

At this point, you can take the activity in a couple of different ways:

  1. The groups intermingle and share their ideas with members of different groups. Each person should have their own copy if you do it this way, so they can show others what they are talking about and why they connected one particular image to a part of the book.

  2. The groups present their ‘findings’ to the other groups. Each group takes it in turn and can have a Q and A before explaining their pictures if they wish.

Benefits of this activity

  • This is a simple activity that could easily be used to get learners talking and listening to each other, in a meaningful way, around the contents of a given unit of work.

  • This gives the learners the sense that you’ve planned ahead and are in control of the whole course, plus they get a sense of everything that is in store for them.

  • You can do some pre-teaching of vocabulary that is pertinent to any given unit.

  • You can pre-activate schemata for any given unit.

  • You can generate a bit of excitement about the upcoming unit(s) of study, having already built up some anticipation of what is to come.

  • You can give the learners a sense of ownership of the book, as you can return to this activity when you eventually arrive at a particular unit and hand over the class to your ‘unit experts’ to introduce the subjects that will be studied in the coming days/weeks.

A note of thanks

This activity is based on an idea for introducing the course book which I saw in a conference presentation by the ever excellent Ken Wilson.

About Adam

@yearinthelifeof aka Adam Simpson

Adam has been fortunate enough to spend the last twelve years of his journey as a life long learner working with others in what some call the ‘language classroom’. He is currently privileged to have the opportunity to help young adults meet their educational goals at Sabanci University in Istanbul. His professional interests include flexibility within the curriculum and the considered use of technology in the classroom. He occasionally finds time to blog about his life: www.teachthemenglish.com.

New Year’s Puddin’: first helping


Merry Christmas                                by Fiona Mauchline

As a post to close the door on 2012 and kick off 2013, I thought I’d answer that question: What have we done? ELTpics and its curators have been pretty busy, so here’s a ‘Compendium of Stuff‘ for you to mull over while your wine does likewise close by and a new term beckons with glee. Happy New Year to you all.

ELTpics busyness: the Resource

ELTpics turned two in mid October, 2012, and celebrated it with its 11,000th image being added to the resource. Not bad, considering the whole thing started as a photo-swap between three friends (Victoria, Vicky and Carol). We had wanted to celebrate with some sort of symbolic action and photos, something like setting off balloons, but ecological and time issues dampened the fuse on those plans. However, we did celebrate by posting an article written by Shelly Sánchez Terrell on Take a photo and… , and subsequently had our Best Day, hitwise, thanks to that article. The blog has had, as I write, just under 13,200 hits since its start some14 months ago, and we hope to keep it running strong, through 2013.

Another birthday ‘present’ came in the form of the ELTpics portal, a webpage bringing together the various sections or facets of ELTpics to increase user-friendliness. If you’re a regular ELTpicser, you may like to bookmark the portal.

Around our second birthday, we also started to talk about spreading from Twitter to Facebook, to reach more people via a more visual medium. Thus, at Christmas 2012, a page was born… and the ELTpics facebook group took off. As an open group, it had 83 members by the time it was 24 hours old. Right now, it’s 48 hours old and has 121 members. Let it grow…

The last set to be opened in 2012, and therefore the first to collect images via Facebook was Dreams and Ambitions, which looks set to be a great way to wander the pathways of your imagination as you peruse and use photos of dream cottages, guitar-players, balloons, travellers…. At the time of writing, our latest contribution via Facebook and the last one from either source in 2012 was from Antonia Clare

Image courtesy of Antonia Clare for #eltpics

Image courtesy of Antonia Clare for #eltpics

and a few hours earlier, our last image via Twitter was from Michael E Griffin in Korea, which, while it was meant for Food, certainly shows a Dream and Ambition of mine….

I dream of carrot cake.....

I dream of carrot cake…..  Image by Michael Griffin for #eltpics

The first image to reach us in 2013 was this Dream/Ambition from Christian Schenk

Oh to be a professional football player....  Image by Christian Schenk for #eltpics

Oh to be a professional football player…. Image by Christian Schenk for #eltpics

and, at a little before lunchtime on New Year’s Day, we already have 7 images this year.

In addition to Take a photo and…, in April 2012, we added a second blog, The Burning Questionnaire, which is a collection of interviews with the guest writers who have posted on Take a photo and... As well as answering the questions in the interview, the guests choose four ELTpics which say something about them, and the images are used to illustrate or decorate their interviews. I have to admit to having become a bit slack re sending out the interviews since summer – sometimes life just gets in the way – but I intend to come back with a vengeance now in 2013, so look out guest bloggers past, present and future, you have been warned….

ELTpics busyness: the Events

ELTpics is increasingly being mentioned by people giving talks at conferences, training days and so on, with ELT folk such as Ben Goldstein, Ceri Jones and Jeremy Harmer waving the flag for us, for which we are immensely grateful.

Jeremy Harmer, in fact, used ELTpics to create his Pecha Kucha when asked to compère the IATEFL Glasgow Pecha Kucha evening in Spring 2012. He then wrote a post for Take a photo and… and added his interview to our Burning Questionnaire.

ELTpics was also invited to take part in round table (or rectangular screen, I guess) as part of the online Virtual Round Table organised by Heike Philps in April. This was a new web experience for me. I sat newly showered in my slippers, smart from the waist up, in a tiny hotel room in Córdoba, very few metres from the Mezquita, with the windows tightly closed in the hope that the street sounds wouldn’t interfere too much, and presented ELTpics to people around the planet via slides made using, hey guess what, ELTpics. It was a great feeling of intimacy and expansion at the same time, and was vaguely reminiscent of the opening sequence of The Brady Bunch.

ELTpics also went to TESOL France in November, and provided me, at least, with one of the most satisfying moments of the year, in true ELTpics ‘togetherness’ style. Prior to the Colloquium in Paris, Bethany Cagnol the then-president of TESOL France, mentioned on facebook that the speakers would be coming from over 30 countries. We decided to ask them to send photos from their country – either of residence or origin – which we would then use to make a slideshow.

Canada  Image by Tyson Seburn for #eltpics

Canada                                                                  Image by Tyson Seburn for #eltpics

This was to be beamed onto a wall during the coffee breaks. Little by little, the photos arrived, and by the time the Colloquium came along, I had 97! Some were labelled, some I labelled, then, with the indispensable (ie life-saving) help of Brad Patterson – without whom there would have been no slideshow – we stuck ’em all together. Well, no. That’s not quite what happened. Two days before going to Paris, I had a message from Bethany asking me to contact Brad about a logistics problem. It turned out that the wall we wanted to beam the slides onto was very brightly lit AND bright red. So it wasn’t going to work. Instead, Beth suggested showing the slides as the grand finale of the Open Mic Evening, and…. turning them into a kind of karaoke sing-along slideshow. With me leading the singing…..eek.

As anyone who saw me there can verify, my knees trembled so hard at the thought, my brain descended to meet them. The original suggestion for the song was Come together, but as I was supposedly going to sing in front of everyone, I wasn’t sold on the ‘…over me‘ bit, so took the liberty of throwing out that idea and choosing something I felt was more in the spirit of what we had done – created a show together, crowd-sourcing the photos which were then to be donated to ELTpics as a set; I chose (oh my goodness, and I then had to sing…) We are family.


Greece Image by Despoina Galanaki for #eltpics

On the night, the slideshow came at the end of a great show: beautiful opera, brilliant piano-playing and guitar numbers, Sue Lyon-Jones’ great ELT version of Killing me softly, stand up comedy… my knees dissolved, though if I’m honest, seeing my vastly more talented peers quiver with nerves did help me calm mine. And in the end, it went fine. I found my voice or what there is of it – and even danced, but that’s quite by the way as no one noticed anyway (thankfully); they seemed to love the pictures and Brad’s masterful addition of the lyrics below them in synch with the instrumental version of the song we’d managed to find. Everyone sang along in a truly inspiring show of what people can achieve when they work together. Me, I thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the dark and singing at the top of my voice with no one looking 🙂

Those were the three main ELTpics events in 2012 that I know of, but if you know of more, please feel free to drop them into the comments box and I can add an addenda later. 2013 will see us at TESOL Spain and who knows where else – hope to meet you somewhere down the line.

Also in 2013, we hope to continue to expand (the resource, not our waistlines…) and offer teachers of English, and of any language or subject if they’d like to join in, a wealth of great images and ideas, and we also have a couple of surprises up our collective sleeves, so watch this space.

I’ll be back in a couple of days with a second helping of New Year’s Puddin’, for you (ideas, pictures…), but for now:

A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear.

Fiona (with a little help from J Lennon)

Happy Hogmanay and may your 2013 be bright and shiny.   Image by Carolyn Kerr. Taken in 2013 for #eltpics

Happy Hogmanay and may your 2013 be bright and shiny.                       Image by Carolyn Kerr. Taken in 2013 for #eltpics