A Teacher is also a Student

teacher is a student

Last weekend, my blog post in Wisdom from 20 Years in the TESL Trenches was inspired by my current class of impressive TESL students.  Just as I was to post my blog a few minutes ago,  I realized that something was missing. (A good teacher always reflects so I thought more about the 4 hours that I spent with these teachers-in-training).

I realized that even after 20 years, I still have things to learn about teaching.  I may have “wisdom” because of my knowledge and teaching experience, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything else to learn.  It certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from my students (one teacher in particular but you will have to read the whole blog post below for the details). A special thanks to the students in TESL005 for teaching me an important lesson.

“A teacher is also a student”.  

Here is my blog post for this week:

The 5 W’s of Using Photos in the ESL/EFL Classroom

Most ESL/EFL teachers have one thing in common.  It is our penchant for saving everything.  I have always loved collecting photos, images, posters and anything visual.  (Many of my photos are still in perfect condition because I laminated them while working in Hong Kong years ago).

Here are the 5 W’s of using photos in your teaching:


Using visuals in ESL/EFL classrooms makes sense because these aids can improve long term memory and comprehension to name a few benefits.  Dr. Lynnell Burmark suggests that unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about seven bits of information… Images on the other hand go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched”.


The list below includes 10 ideas however I am sure that there are many more.

  1. Have students brainstorm vocabulary
  2. Use images to teach grammar (e.g. prepositions, adjectives, comparatives…)
  3. Story starters for writing
  4. Introduce a topic for your lesson using an image
  5. Have low level students create picture dictionaries
  6. Make flash cards (or have students make them)
  7. Use photos and pictures to make a collage
  8. Have students make thought/speech bubbles of people in the pictures
  9. Faces can be used to teach expressions, feelings, and body language
  10. Ask students to predict what will happen based on an picture or image


Ask students to draw pictures as well.  Thank you to Meredith Blackmore for demonstrating this in a recent TESL practicum class for teaching adult learners.  Students loved drawing and a lot of language was produced during this activity!


Photos and pictures can be found in calendars (I get free ones from my garden centre), postcards, flyers, brochures, magazines and newspapers.


Some lovely images can be sourced from www.pixabay.com which is currently my favourite copyright-free website.  I also like https://unsplash.com and barnimages.com

Please feel free to add more ideas to the list.  Happy teaching!

Reference: http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/350326/Studies-Confirm-the-Power-of-Visuals-in-eLearning

To sign up for my weekly blog – Wisdom from 20 Years in the TESL Trenches – go to https://patrice-palmer.mykajabi.com







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