Learners take control

This week’s contributor is perhaps not a frequent eltpics contributor but IS a frequent, and highly creative eltpics user: Tara Benwell. From Toronto in Canada, Tara is a writer – a novel as well as materials – social media director, and Site of the Month editor for TEFL.net and EnglishClub.com. She’s also in charge of admin for MyEC, the social network of EnglishClub.com and hosts the MyEC Monthly Writing Challenges. So. Drumroll and over to Tara…..


I’ve admired the eltpics team from the very beginning, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria for TEFL.net back when there were only a few hundred pictures in the flickr collection. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought of eltpics as an ingenius site developed by teachers for teachers. Then one day when I was hunting through my personal photos trying to find the perfect photo for a MyEC blog challenge, I suddenly had a thought. English learner bloggers would love eltpics! Why not introduce them to this collection? Before I went ahead, I asked permission from the team. Would it be okay for our online students/teachers to use eltpics too? The team was quick to confirm that the collection was open for all types of educational use (non-commercial), and I wondered why I hadn’t asked before. Since then, I’ve put eltpics to great use on the social network for English learners and teachers, and I’ve hardly logged in to the clip art site that we subscribe to. What do we do with ELTpics on MyEC? Two words: Wordless Wednesday.


Wordless Wednesday is a fun exercise we’ve been doing on EnglishClub for a couple of years. It was inspired by the official Wordless Wednesday group. These are bloggers who give themselves a rest each Wednesday by uploading a photo instead of writing a post. These bloggers share their photo posts on a hub blog in hopes of attracting a wider audience of readers. I stumbled upon the official Wordless Wednesday group via my high school locker partner’s blog, imadeitso.

The Wordless Wednesday premise is simple, but like other online challenges that we join as a community, we adjusted it slightly to make it useful for language learning. Each Wednesday I upload an image to my MyEC blog. I invite learners (and teachers) to write a caption in the comments. The winning caption is added to the post the following Wednesday.

While it started out as something I did on my blog, the members quickly caught on and began creating their own Wordless Wednesday posts. This is the way MyEC works, and it’s the best part of blogging in a community. Members are encouraged to submit their Wordless Wednesday post to the hub blog where the original idea came from.

Asking online students/teachers to upload photos to a website can be a bit tricky, however. The last thing we need is more illegal pictures of Brad Pitt! From the beginning of MyEC, we’ve worked hard to encourage members not to steal images from the Internet. We created a lesson on plagiarism, we educated our most active users about artist’s rights, and we began moderating our photo gallery. Our moderators are volunteer English learners and they take their job very seriously. However, it can still be tempting for members to use images outside of their own photo folderS.


Introducing MyEC members to eltpics presented the perfect opportunity to teach them how to use Creative Commons sites. In fact, with thousands of images available on eltpics, there is almost no need for members to go outside these sets, at least for the purpose of Wordless Wednesday. After months of sharing photos from my personal photo folder for Wordless Wednesday, I was ecstatic to suddenly realize that I had thousands of images to choose from. I’ve used images from the eltpics sets for the last three weeks and will continue to use them for future posts. I hope the members who participate in Wordless Wednesday will give it a try too.


If your students are blogging (or thinking of blogging), I highly recommend showing them how to use eltpics.

  • introduce them to the concept of Creative Commons
  • help them understand that plagiarism is serious
  • encourage them to start blogging
  • teach them how to credit a photographer and site
  • introduce them to twitter (in order to credit the photographer properly it may be necessary to credit the photographer’s twitter account)


If your school has a blog, please join in on Wordless Wednesday. First, show your students how to use ELTPics. Then, invite students to write captions for the photos that they picked (open it up to teachers as well). Finally, teach them how to submit their posts to the official Wordless Wednesday site. If you share one blog, put one student in charge of the Wordless Wednesday post each week. It’s up to you whether or not you want to work on corrections with your learners. You can also send your students over to MyEC so they can take part in our community fun!

Learners Can use ELTpics to

  • add images to school projects and presentations
  • add visuals to school newsletters
  • add photos to personal or school blogs
  • participate in online challenges (such as our Motivational Poster challenge)
  • Image by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81)

    For information on Tara’s novel, see http://www.tarabenwell.com

1 thought on “Learners take control

  1. Pingback: The Burning Questionnaire: Tara Benwell | The Burning Questionnaire

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