This activity was designed for PET speaking part 3 but can also be used to practise using modals of deduction and describing people’s features, clothing or mood. It is ideal for students who find exam practice stressful and is great for generating ideas and language.
- Select photos – You need at least one photo for every two students in your class
- Stick them onto card – use different colours for each one if possible
- Cut them along the dotted lines
Students take turns drawing a card and putting it in place. On their turn students think of two or three sentences to describe what they can see.
Encourage students to be ambitious and include reasons. “He might be a tourist” is fine, but “he might be a tourist because he’s taking a photo” is much better.
As students add to the picture they will be able to build on what they’ve said and add more detail to their descriptions.
“They must be a band because I can see a conductor and some musicians. I can see a small crowd in the background listening to the music.”
Once they’ve drawn all the cards and they’ve put the picture together they should talk about some of the people they’ve missed.
“I can see a man on the right. He’s wearing sunglasses and a green shirt. He looks really interested in the music.”
You can then rotate the pictures around the room so that students can repeat the activity with a new picture. I recommend having a couple of extra pictures ready to use because some students will work faster than others.
At the end of the activity ask students to try to remember the best sentences that they, or their partner said, and write them down. Use this, and your monitoring, to feed into error correction.
It’s important to review the target language with your class before you start the activity. You could direct students to focus on describing clothes, facial features or actions. I find this activity very useful for practising modals of deduction with intermediate and upper-intermediate students.
If you are using the game for PET practice, elicit the possible elements of the picture that students should talk about and write them on the board – location (time of day, atmosphere, season, etc), people’s appearance (features, clothing, mood), activity, the student’s opinions and details (foreground/background).
To generate example sentences for the board give each pair of students a copy of the same picture and ask them for sentences that describe it. Write down their ideas, organising your board so you have the different elements of the picture on one side and example sentences on the other.
It’s important to note that this activity was not designed to replace more traditional speaking practice for the PET, but to add an additional tool for teachers. This activity could lead into a timed practice with pictures taken from sample papers.
Links and references
Thanks for reading. You can find more games and activities here.
If you’re looking for more resources for teaching PET or any of the Cambridge exams Cambridge English is probably the best place to start. Here’s a link to an activity they have on speaking part 3.
Finally, here are a few pictures to show why you should use different coloured card when you make this activity: