What does your table say about you?

Ready for Christmas by @nutrich

This week we have another Special Guest Star. Dale Coulter, from near Reading in southern England. Dale, who is currently based in Rome, is increasingly well-known for his great blog, languagemoments, and his thoughts (and talks) on reflective teaching. Apart from his great ideas, one reason I invited Dale to write a post was because I wanted to see how a teacher who isn’t so familiar with eltpics would use the resource, and (minor spoiler alert) Dale’s chosen topic of tables has, in turn, given me an idea for a ‘challenge’: after you read Dale’s post, please tweet us a photo of your work table (or play table! remember to use the #eltpics hashtag) and I’ll upload it here and send you an invite to write about your table in the comments section (see Dale’s post for details about what to write). If, by the way, you don’t use twitter, you could leave me a link to your photo in the comments section with your text, and I’ll add it to the main area of the blog. Enough from me, over to (fanfare)…………DALE!


I was invited to write a contribution for the ‘Take a Photo and…‘ blog and was somewhat stuck for ideas, so I took a look at some of the posts written before for inspiration. I got as far as the third paragraph, then an idea came to me. While reading “are you sitting comfortably“, I thought “where am I sitting?” – at my desk, where I normally sit when I need to do some work, check the various social networking sites I use and catch up on the latest news etc. I then went into the kitchen and had a cup of tea, at the kitchen table… do you see where this is going?


Tables: for credits, please send end of post.

1. Dining table, 2. Garden furniture, 3. Chess pieces, and a frog, 4. A feast, 5. Dressing table, 6. My home office. This is where the magic happens, or not, 7. Personalised furniture, 8. Tea for two, 9. Holiday, 10. Meeting room, 11. playing with dolls, 12. Table football

We spend an extraordinary amount of time in our lives seated at a table. How many tables are there in your life? What sort of relationship do you have with your tables? Crazy, when you think about it, how much information about someone’s life can be conjured up with this thought. The idea is to connect with your students’ lives, past and present, through their tables.

What does this remind you of?

There’s enough information in these pictures to trigger a whole host of memories and experiences. Not into table football? Never played chess? Never studied? Never been to school? Never eaten dinner?

Warmer: Give learners the question above to answer. Do it in pairs, do it in groups, do it as a class. However it works best for you.

Or, if you want to loosen the reins a bit, give them a question table:

Did you use to________________?

How could___________________?

What’s the best way to __________?

Let learners create questions and then ask them to write their efforts on the board. Tell learners to answer the ones they have something to say about, leaving the irrelevant ones.

Categories: Ask the class to put the tables into categories. This helps make more concrete links between the pictures and concepts, for example, ping-pong table and the table football table could go under ‘free time’.

Develop language: Learners pick a category they want to work on; groups brainstorm vocabulary; pick five lexical items to write on cards with an explanation on the back.

Contextualise: Once you have finished and helped learners develop their language (adding collocations, clarifying, correcting if necessary), distribute cards to groups, they match them to a category, then to a picture. Swap the cards until each group has done this with all the new vocabulary.

Use: learners write a ‘me and my tables‘ description, choosing the tables that reflect their life the most and using the vocabulary produced from the previous activity.

Credits: The photos in the mosaic are by (from top left to bottom right): @aClilToClimb, @sandymillin (x2) / @sandymillin (x2), @Senicko / @mrsdkrebs, @aClilToClimb, @mkofab / @sandymillin, @CeciELT, @mattledding.


NEXT WEEK: A very special Christmas post by a very special person…..ho, ho ho.