Using Images In The Classroom

Images are an essential component of any teacher’s toolkit. But especially for language teachers who need to contextualize the learning and provide schema and background to the language used.

As a teacher trainer and someone teaching curriculum design – I always get my student teachers collecting photos that “compel” into a folder (either digital or paper) that can be used at any time in a class. Just pull up the images for the purpose you need. This library of photos is indispensable and armed with activities for using them, the teachers are ready for any classroom.

[Make sure you have permission, copyright or the images fall under the umbrella of fair use]

Here are my top 12 ways to use images in the classroom. I’m sure you have yours – please comment and let us know!

Download The Infographic (PDF)

  1. Getting Personal. Either as a back to school activity, a way to assess student fluency or just a way to get to know more about each other in the classroom – student photos are wonderful to use. Get students to bring them in or show them online and then others ask questions. Teacher first too!
  2. Story Writing. Give students 4 random images or generate them online and play story dominoes. Students write out the story using the 4 images in order then share it with the class. Or do this as a speaking, storytelling activity. See our Story Dice. There are also online platforms for students to make stories with images – like my own Gif Lingua.
  3. Eliciting Vocabulary. A picture “speaks” a 1,000 words. Use a picture for students to label and name the things in the image. There are also many fine picture dictionaries out there that can be used for this purpose.
  4. Making / Creating. Most students have powerful cameras in their phones. Provide a topic and then have students create a collage or number of images to present to the class on the topic. You’ll be surprised at their artistry and photo taking skills!
  5. Current Events. Pictures are great for prompting students on the “5 Ws” and also for reviewing what’s happening in the world. Also for discussing historical events. Find some iconic images and get students discussing the important event(s). Try our Imagine It story generator.
  6. Describe ‘n Draw. 2 way communicative tasks are great ways for students to practice speaking. Provide simple pictures to students in pairs. Each one describes their picture while the other one draws. After, compare the drawing with the original! Here are some examples.
  7. Match’em. Images can be great for matching activities. Tear some up and give pieces to students. While speaking, they have to find who has their matching part. Class walkabouts are great, students must find the person who has a similar image.
  8. Flashcards. Online or in person, flashcards help students review and retain vocabulary. Use images to create flashcards and then practice recalling and using the words in sentences. Also, use Quizlet and make your own flashcards for students using online images. We have 100s pre-made on Quizlet. Or see HERE.
  9. Go Gif. Moveable gif images make instruction so much more entertaining and learner friendly. Use a gif library like Tenor or Giphy or try out Gif Lingua where you can download each book with moveable gifs in a pptx to use in class.
  10. Presentations. Get students preparing presentations for the class using JUST images as a guide for their talk. It will focus everyone on their speaking. Pecha Kucha – visual storytelling. Or use a set of graphs to promote students to bring the graph alive with their own interpretation and commentary.
  11. GAMES! Images are easy for making quizzes and question style games. Just show an image and have students guess the word, expression, saying etc … So many other ways to use images for games that elicit student speech and language.
  12. Captioning. Why not bring a little fun and laughter into the class? Get some comics and whiteout the words and have students provide their own speech bubbles and captions. Or have students caption images with sticky notes and everyone can have a laugh. Or provide comics without words and have students write their own funny quote, caption. Red Kid online is a great place for captioning.

Download the infographic as a PDF

infographic images

Leave a Reply


Why teens are different and why it matters when you teach them. Download the article and slides here. “The best…

Read more

We have thousands of leveled readers and many are now available with voiceovers on ELT Buzz Video. Check out these…

Read more

Those new to English language teaching might think the only issues are those about how to teach in class - methods. …

Read more


Never miss a thing! Subscribe. We'll never spam you!


All the "buzz", news, products, people, resources related to English language teaching