Using Stock Photo Sites To Generate Language

Teddy bear port-a-pottyConsider this picture. Think you could come up with something to say about it in your students’ target language? Think you could ask questions about it that your students could answer? I know you can.

A quirky picture is just the thing for getting a lot of bang for your buck when you want students to get lots of interesting input in the target language and, eventually, to say interesting stuff in the target language. I especially recommend asking questions, starting with factual questions about the picture (How many port-a-potties are there? What color are they?) and moving on to extension questions allowing students to invent details and context (How old is the teddy bear? What was the teddy bear doing in there? What kind of event is this? Where will the teddy bear go next?) and personal questions about students’ relationships to concepts in the image (Have you ever seen something unexpected emerge from a port-a-potty? How do you feel about port-a-potties? Would you let your teddy bear in a port-a-potty?)

Washer Some Things You Shouldnt Get InsideWebsites with free stock photos are a superb source of quirky images. Most of mine, including those on this page, come from

Edit 04-20-2020: David from has just made me aware of that site, which specializes in photos featuring people and looks great.

Grab a stock photo and have fun!

For more ideas about question-asking and generating language with specific types of content, including pictures, see 6 Questions To Start, Sustain, and Elevate Conversation about a Text, Frivolity Is the Mother of Invention, Optical Illusions, Rando Mitem: Your Friend and Mine, What You Can Do, I Can Talk About, Making the Most of Mystery, and How To Use Your Windows.

For a huge variety of ways to use pictures in both in-person and online settings, along with other tricks of the teaching trade, check out my recorded webinar Even More Ways to Use Pictures!

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