This is a fun activity you can do with students to practise describing photographs using speculative language. The activity could be used simply as general speaking practice or to help students prepare for Cambridge speaking exams. Students look at a photo and answer questions using language of speculation. All the photos are of me (Please don’t laugh) but feel free to replace them with your own photos to make it more personal.
I have also included a written task sample courtesy of one of my younger learners to show you how they handled the task and a recording of a description of Image 1, courtesy of my lovely friend Adam. Feel free to use it to model the task to your students or turn it into a listening task 😉
Time: 35 minutes
- To describe a photo using the questions provided
- To make predictions about the photo
- To practise using speculative and deductive language
- Before you start the activity ask students to give you some examples of language of speculation e.g I suppose…, I expect…, It is possible…, It is probable that…, I can’t see… etc.
- Display one of the images on the screen ( I have prepared 5 photos of myself that you are free to use but you could use your own photos too) if you are teaching online.
- Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to describe the photos to each other using the questions provided (ask students to answer ALL the questions AND in order) using speculative language displayed next to the photos. Monitor and offer help whenever necessary.
- Next, still in the same groups, ask students to try and agree on the answers especially when the more speculative questions are concerned. Once they have come up with one version per group/per pair, ask them to choose a spokesperson who is going to present their answers to the rest of the class.
- When all the groups or pairs have finished presenting their versions, you can give them the REAL story behind the image. BOOM. Of course you can skip this stage if you are using my photos. This is actually the most enjoyable part of the activity as students get to see if their predictions about the snippets from my/your/their life are accurate or not. So often we ask students to describe random images that are completely irrelevant to their lives instead of using our own images which makes it so much more exciting.
- The group with the highest number of correct answers wins. I deliberately choose photos with interesting background stories.
- You can continue the activity with my photos or ask students to use their own images. Make sure students are still using speculative language throughout the activity.
- Enjoy 😉