Food for thought

This week, we have another guest post. So far, most of our contributions have been from folks based in Europe (apart from Tara), so when I heard that Beth Konomoto was an avid #eltpics user, I asked her to join us here. Beth, who is Canadian (something else she has in common with Tara), is based in Japan and has been there since 2005. She works with EFL students of all ages, and is finishing up a masters in TEFL/TESL. She’s also not long started a blog, so if you’d like to welcome her to the blogosphere and give her some encouragement, you can find her at

Warning: don’t read this if you’re hungry ūüėČ


Feeling hungry?    All images from the #eltpics food set.

I regularly use ELTpics as supplemental vocabulary and conversation practice for my junior high and high school conversation classes. The class sizes are usually small, 1-4 students, so I bring my laptop into the class. We have wifi in the rooms where I usually teach, so it makes it easy to work directly with the site. 

I usually choose a set of pictures that goes with what we are studying in the book, but sometimes for a warmup or quick activity I let the students choose what they think will be interesting based on the set titles. The pics naturally bring up language negotiation, asking questions, and asking for clarification when we brainstorm the topic, set title, or individual pic title. The pics also easily work for sorting activities.

Here are some of the ways I use the sets on ELTpics.

One really successful set has been the ‘food’ set. In the textbook we use there is a unit on food with linguistic goals for countable/uncountable nouns and “Do you have any ~?” “How much/many ~?” However, most of the food¬†in the book¬†is generic ‘American’ food which leaves a lot out.

I start off this lesson by using the top page of the ‘food’ set and leave the thumbnails small so that the students can see the pictures, but not very well in order to peak their curiosity. Then we brainstorm food on the board. We go back and look at the small thumbnails and try to fill out our brainstorm a bit more.¬†

We go through the pics in a slideshow on the flickr page and briefly talk about them. I also print out the thumbnails page and cut them up for a sorting activity. After spreading the thumbnails out all over the table, the pics get sorted into countable and uncountable and then we count what we can.

The other set that has generated a lot of discussion is the ‘-ing’ set.

Mostly, this set generates questions: who? what? when? where? why? what time? what country? 

With the pics in slideshow view, I stick a post-it on the screen over the title (I know it’s not very high tech, but it works!). Usually when we are asking questions and talking about the pics, we get the “wrong” idea about what the pic is “do-ing”. This leads perfectly into¬†writing new titles for each pic and we try to make at least 2 different titles for each.¬†

Similar to the sorting activity with the ‘food’ set, we sort the pics into categories like: times of day (morning, afternoon, after school, after dinner, etc.), things we ‘have to do’ vs. things we ‘like to do’, and even more general pics we like and don’t like. ¬†

ELTpics is a great resource for enhancing lessons that use a textbook. It makes class more personal and more connected to real people in real life!

Thanks ELTpics!


2 thoughts on “Food for thought

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