Building Sentences Through Images

I have found it extremely useful to use pictures to represent words and to add on to these picture sentences as the year moves on.  I tend to use an LCD projector to show these pictures, but have used printed pictures and overhead transparencies in the past and the process works just as well.

I begin the year with a simple picture of heart and another of a heart with an X on it.  These represent “I like” and “I don’t like.”  About 10-15 verbs are introduced (again through pictures) and students then “read” their first sentence, something such as “I like to run.”  I purposely use only “I like/don’t like” at this stage so that students don’t have to be concerned with verb forms.  As we begin to study more vocabulary I add on to these pictures.

For example, they learned the rooms in the house.  As soon as they were comfortable recognizing the pictures of the rooms I added the previous words to them to make more complex sentences, such as “ I don’t like to sleep in the living room.”

As we added on food vocabulary I again using words/pictures that they already knew to make more complex sentences, such as “I like to eat strawberries in the living room.”

It is very important to use the same pictures rather than changing them so that the students become comfortable recognizing them.  I was very surprised and impressed this past year when some of my youngest students (3rd grade) began creating their own sentences based on the pictures and they began trying to create the longest sentence.
This process has helped students to retain the majority of vocabulary that they have learned throughout the year and they enjoy what they are able to accomplish.  You can go in many directions with these pictures once students are comfortable with them.  They can “read” the sentences out loud, write the sentences in the target language based on the picture sequence, or “write” what they are reading.  This entails giving sentences to students that are in the target language along with a group of pictures that they assemble in the correct order.

Here is a Powerpoint that demonstrates this concept:  Image Sentences

picture sentence

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