2. Describe and draw

As a teacher, you should always be looking out for activities that develop the skill of listening with understanding.

Here, Activity 2 involves listening and drawing, or converting language information into visual information. It has a similar advantage to total physical response (TPR), as pupils do not have to produce language to show their understanding. However, it requires the one who is describing to be very clear and accurate – otherwise the consequences can be seen in the partner’s picture.

Case Study 2: Junk mail to describe and arrange

Lulu was always getting ‘junk mail’ pushed through her letter box: advertisements from different shops showing pictures of their wares. One day she decided to keep them, instead of throwing them in the bin.

She cut out the different household products: packets of Indomie, sugar and flour; boxes of washing powder and cereal, etc. She had many duplicates.

She drew six pictures of kitchen shelves, and stuck the household products onto three of them (Resource 4: Describe and arrange shows examples). Each of the three pictures was different. She then cut out duplicates of all the products on the kitchen shelves. She also had three empty kitchen shelves.

In her Grade 4 class the next day, three groups of six or seven pupils were given pictures of full shelves. The empty shelves went to the other three groups, and different pupils in these groups got the duplicate products.

She paired the groups, letting Group 1 (with the complete picture) sit near Group 2 (with the empty shelf and separate products). The members of Group 1 described how the products were arranged on the shelf, and the members of the other group arranged them on the empty shelf. They asked questions when they were not sure. This gave them practice in using words about positions in a ‘realistic’ situation.

The lesson went well. Lulu decided that next time she would extend her pupils’ vocabulary by asking them to sort and describe images of – or, if possible, actual – drums and artefacts from the local community.

Activity 2: Describe and draw

This activity is carried out in pairs or groups. One member describes and the other(s) draw(s). In a multigrade class, the older pupils might describe, while the younger draw.

  • Find some very simple pictures or diagrams or draw your own, e.g. line drawing of a house or tree. You will need one picture per pair, or group, of pupils. The pictures can be the same, or all different.
  • Introduce pupils to the vocabulary and sentence types that they will need to use, e.g. ‘Draw a square in the middle of the page.’ ‘Draw two chickens beside the house.’
  • Hand out one picture per pair (or group), instructing ‘describers’ not to let their partners see them. The pupil with the picture describes it to the other pupil(s), who tries to draw what is described. They must not say what the picture is.
  • At the end the describer and the drawer(s) compare their pictures. Start a whole class discussion: ‘Asanda’s circle is much smaller than the one in the picture.’ ‘Thabo’s chickens have big heads, but the ones in the picture have small heads.’ With practice, they will get better at this kind of activity.

Key Resource: Working with large classes [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   and Key Resource: Working with multigrade classes gives further ideas for teaching large classes.

1. Creating opportunities for ‘real’ communication

3. Making meaning: sequencing