The teacher, or a student, describes a picture to students who draw what they
Picture dictation targets several skills and learning styles. Listening
is in the forefront. Good pronunciation skills are essential for the person
dictating. Both the "artists" and the person dictating must
use communication strategies such as circumlocution and rephrasing to
negotiate meaning. Haptic learners get a chance to stand up, move their
chairs, or and draw.
The activity may be adapted to provide practice of specific vocabulary
lists, or to enhance speaking skills in general.
Prepositions and basic vocabulary/small group:
- Bring several photos of kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, etc. ,
from magazines (Ikea catalogues are good for this)
- Divide students into groups of three or four. Have students form
circles that do not allow them to see each others' work.
- Each group takes out a piece of paper and a pen/pencil.
- The teacher describes a picture the students cannot see. "A gauche
, il y a un lit. Il y a un bureau à côté du lit,
à droite [etc.]."
- Students compare pictures.
- The teacher shows the picture to everyone.
- Now each group selects the person who will describe.
- Teacher distributes photos to those who will describe them.
- Speakers describe while their partners draw. No one looks at anyone
else's photo or drawing.
- Change speakers and photos.
- Go through about three photos per group, depending on how quickly
the students work.
Picture Dictation --"les parties du corps"--on the board/whole
- Ask for three artists to go up to the board.
- T says "Nous allons dessinez trois personnes. D'abord, dessinez
une tête." [The three artists draw]. T asks class: "Qu'est-ce
qu'il faut dessiner maintenant?"
- T continues to have individual students dictate body parts until vocabulary
list is exhausted.
- Use the three drawings elsewhere in the lesson. Have students name
them, write stories about them, erase them piece by piece.
More elaborate descriptions/small groups:
- Students form groups of three-four, designating the first person who
- Teacher hands out a postcard, calendar picture, fine art reproduction
to each "speaker." Have students sit in circles that do not
allow them to see the post card or each others' work.
- As one student describes, the others draw.
- After 5 minutes, collect the drawings and the post cards. Do not let
students compare their drawing to the original yet.
- Show the two/three drawing to the whole class. A visual presenter
is great for this. If you are using fine art reproductions, see if the
students recognize the painting or artist.
- Now show the original image to the whole group. Everyone should be
seeing it for the first time now.
- Go through each picture in this way.
Picture Samples and Student Interpretations:
University of Virginia