Author: Deb Avery | Published on 1 July 2023


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

Many of my learners know a lot of words in their mother tongue, but their English vocabulary is quite small. Using pictures and posters with labels in English helps them link what they already know with the new vocabulary. To do this, I use simple pictures and drawings. Some I draw myself, others I cut out from newspapers to make a poster. My learners don’t mind if my drawings are not professional. Sometimes I ask them to help me label the posters.

 Stage 1: Prepare

 Find or draw two large pictures of a topic e.g. a picture of the farm and one of the market in the town.

Prepare flashcards with the vocabulary you want to teach. For example:

  • farm
  • market
  • cow
  • horse
  • tractor
  • maize
  • taxi
  • banana
  • beans

Stage 2: Explain

Say: 'Today we are going to look at some pictures of a  farm and a market. Guess what you might see.'

Give learners 2 minutes to brainstorm ideas. Allow them to use their mother tongue if necessary. Ask them to quickly share their ideas with the whole class. 

Explain that you will show them the picture, but only for 15 seconds. They must remember as many objects as they can.

Stage 3: Use the pictures

Show learners the picture for 15 seconds. Make sure every learner has an equal opportunity to see it (especially if you have a large class). 

Ask: 'What did you see in the picture? Did you see things which you did not guess before?'

You should then describe the scene and situation using the English words e.g. Granny is taking the maize to the market to sell.

Repeat with the other picture.

Say: 'Make one sentence about one of the pictures and tell a partner.'

Hold up the flashcards with the vocabulary and ask learners to match them to the pictures.

Stage 4: Deepen the learners’ understanding of the vocabulary

Use one or both of these activities:

a) Say: 'Look at the two pictures. Say what is the same and what is different.'

Learners share their observations. e.g. There is maize in both pictures. There is a tractor on the farm but a taxi at the market.

b) Write anagrams of the words on the board. For example: marf (farm); owc (cow); imzae (maize) etc

Say: Match these jumbled words to the flashcards. Say the correct word.

Stage 5: Practise using the vocabulary

Say: Draw your own picture of the farm or the market.  Label it with the new words.

Circulate and help where necessary.

Display the pictures in a class gallery.

Extend the activity by asking learners to make up a story using both pictures e.g. Granny picked the maize. She put it in a basket. The next day she carried the maize to the market where she sold it and bought eggs. Learners use the vocabulary they have already learnt and other words that they know. The learners could share the story orally, write and illustrate it or act it out.


Brainstorm: To suggest ideas quickly, before then considering them more carefully.

Anagrams: a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase

Class gallery: class photos