Photographs can be a brilliant way of just starting a conversation or can be used to structure a whole lesson around. As long as you choose the correct activity they can be used by learners of any level.

A picture could be used simply to state what is seen and build vocabulary. This could be extended to discuss how the picture makes you feel. You could speculate about what is happening in the picture, before building in the past and future tense by asking what might have happened before the picture was taken and what might happen next.

You can share photos of places you like and things you enjoy and ask your learner to do the same. They can be a great way of removing barriers and making learners feel at ease. You could even set work outside of lessons for the learner to take a picture of what interests them then talk about it in the next session.

Below are a number of sites that have some great photos and some ideas for how to use them in a session. Enjoy, and be creative!

The Guardian – Best photographs
of the day

A mix of beautiful, intriguing and thought provoking photos from The Guardian. These images can be a great conversation starter for lessons, leading on to topical news from around the world.

British Council – Describing a picture

A fantastic resource which gives clear activities to help learners develop their skills of describing a picture. This gives numerous ideas which could be transferred to any image you use. These skills are very useful for most of the ESOL exams.


Designed as an educational website, it is very clear and easy use. There are a number of categories from food to the weather which can be searched to find relevant images. This can be great as a visual dictionary or for learning new vocabulary.

NEN Gallery

Another educational website. This has numerous categories, including business and industry, through to religion and faiths. Some really interesting images to spark discussions.