How to do Social-Emotional Learning Prompts for ESL

Sometimes the best classroom activities come out of the simplest things. Case in point, these Social-Emotional Learning prompts for ESL students created by Teresa X. Nguyen and illustrated by Tyler Hoang and Nathaniel Cayanan. Each worksheet has a written prompt and an original hand-drawn illustration. It’s simple enough but designed to work for students at any level. It’s a particularly powerful tool, as there are plenty of social-emotional learning activities and prompts for the mainstream classroom.

But what’s unique about these worksheets is that they’re the only social-emotional learning prompts for ESL students and the ESL classroom! Because they’re so simple and there’s so much space on the page, students can respond by drawing, writing, jotting down words and notes, or discussing. You can even scaffold, moving from sketches and single words all the way to a longer piece of writing.

Because these positive activity prompts  are so much fun, I couldn’t sharing some of my own ideas for filling them out. I’ve also included some ways to implement them in the classroom! Links to the worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers are in the captions or check out all our printable, downloadable, or shareable Positive Activities.

I’ll start with my favorite!

New Emotions or Emojis

Students draw expressions to represent new feelings or attitudes and then share their creations with the class. They can get other students to guess their emotions from the drawings or share one emoji they want, or even an emotion they think needs a name! Like that feeling when you’re physically tired but emotionally not ready for bed!

Here’s a list of a few ways students can respond to the Social Emotional Learning prompts, depending on their language level and the logistics of the class. I’ve put the activities in roughly order of complexity. However, what works for your classroom and what is easier or harder for your students may also vary! You can even scaffold the activities and have students start anywhere on the list, then work their way up. Go from a sketch to a short writing in a few simple moves!

  1. Sketch an response.
  2. Label the drawing with key words.
  3. Discuss your response with a partner.
  4. Write short phrases or sentences as a response.
  5. Brainstorm ideas with a partner or in a group.
  6. Outline a longer response, using a graphic organizer or writing frame.
  7. Discuss the prompt in detail with a partner.
  8. Write a paragraph or series of paragraphs.
  9. Share written answers and provide peer feedback

#Thankful Prompt

I love this thankful prompt because it really tells you what your students value in others. What do they love about the people in their lives? They may want to name these people, but they don’t have to. This is a great discussion prompt as students can share about one particular person in their lives.

A Selfie

This is a fun getting-to-know-you activity that can be done in a lot of different ways. Students can draw themselves realistically or how they want to appear. They can label the drawing with facts about themselves, the clothes they like to wear, how they feel about their appearance (like their favorite part of themselves). They can draw themselves doing something they love or wearing their favorite clothes or sitting in their favorite place. What do they want to share about themselves? Extend this activity by making a gallery of classmates for everyone to get to know everyone else. Have them do one at the beginning of the term and at the end so they can compare their portraits.

My Robot Social-Emotional ESL Prompt

This prompt is a lot of fun for young learners. They’re probably making their own robots anyway and the activity can give them a lot of vocabulary. Students can learn words for describing machines and electronics including button, gear, switch, click, and more! They can also learn words for the functions their robot performs.

They could focus on a problem and have their robot be a solution to that problem, which helps build vocabulary in a particular area. Or just have them go crazy designing the coolest robot they can think of and labelling all the features. Then they can share with a partner or with the whole class.

You may ask how to use this as a social-emotional learning prompt specifically. Students can design robots to help with social or emotional life issues-a companion robot, a therapist bot, a tool to help with special needs. Your students’ imagination is the limit.

My Rhyming Poem: Writing Prompt for SEL 

There are a lot of ways to get students writing short rhyming poems. They can read and copy rhyming poems, including formulaic ones such as limericks or “Roses are red, violets are blue” poems. They can sing rhyming songs and copy the structure. You can even have them imitate a picture book. Let them enjoy flipping through a rhyming dictionary for ideas.

Looking for a whole book of these? Check out the paperback of 60 Positive Activities for Kids, for sale wherever books are sold! We also have them in slide format to make them easy to share in-person or online!

And feel free to share your ideas for using these wonderful creations in the classroom!

Resources for Distance Learning

We know we aren’t the first and we probably won’t be the last people you hear from to talk about our resources for distance learning (or that work well teaching online). But we assume if you’re reading this blog, or getting this email that means you like what we do. And we certainly like what we do and think they’re pretty useful.

Now when I say resources for distance learning, I mean a few different things. First, it could mean resources that are well-suited for online learning platforms like Zoom or Google Classrooms. Some of our resources are on PowerPoint or Google Slides, or single PDF pages so you can share them with your class easily.

Other resources are good for distance learning because students can do them independently. Then they can share their results with you via email or through your learning platform.

Also note that a lot of our books are available as ebooks. So you can have your students buy them, or get them instantly-no waiting to prep your lessons!

Now, we’ll be updating this list as we work to make more and more of our resources distance learning-friendly. We’d also love to hear from you if you’re using any of our Teacher Resource Books and adapting the activities for online use.

60 Positive Activities for Kids by Teresa X Nguyen and Tyler Hoang

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

If you’re looking for simple and flexible prompts that focus on fun memories, kindness, and setting and achieving goals, then 60 Positive Activities for Kids is the book for you.

Each slide features a prompt that students can respond to in writing, in conversation, or by drawing. Or let students start with a drawing, add labels, share with a partner, and then start constructing sentences, paragraphs and longer writings.

Best of all and much-needed these days, each prompt focuses on the positive side of life. Students will be sharing a joke, talking about a happy memory, inventing their dream home, and discussing their achievements and hopes for the future.

So check out the PowerPoint or Google Slide editions on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can also get individual worksheets as PDFs.

Stuck at Home fun

For distance learning, the online versions of Teresa’s Positive Activities books are best. But if you’re looking for something to do with your own children at home (or to entertain youself), check out the paperback editions of 60 Positive Activities for Kids and 60 Positive Activities for Adults.

Take your mind off the stress of the current situation by designing the perfect meal or talking about your favorite activities for each season. My favorite is the “New Holiday” prompt where you plan a new holiday. You can even celebrate your holidays while you’re home!

The hand-drawn illustrations are great for kids to color in and use as discussion prompts. Turn it into a competition by having everyone vote on the best answer. Or use it as a check-in to see where everyone’s mood is. I’ve been using them with my son as transitions from home-schooling to free time and vice versa!

What if . . .

What Would You Do Slides Cover

What Would You Do? is a great activity that requires no prep and that students can do independently. But they generate a ton of great discussion and/or writing. Give students a hypothetical situation and let them discuss what they would do. It’s an easy way to bring up social and emotional issues, ethical dilemmas, and address every day conflicts.

We’ve formatted the book, What Would You Do? by Taylor Sapp as Google Slides and as PowerPoint slides to make them easy to share over Zoom or Google Classrooms, or whatever you’re using for remote teaching!

Each dilemma features one slide that lays out the situation, giving some context to the problem. Then there’s a concise statement of the issue. Finally there are some suggested solutions to help students start thinking of solutions.

The second slide gives some variations because we know our actions often depend on the context. This is a great time to talk about Social-Emotional Learning.

Story Prompts That Inspire

We still have print and ebooks for sale too, including Stories Without End. 24 open-ended stories that students can supply their own endings too. There are a lot of other creative projects related to each story, as well, including rewriting stories, adding characters, doing summaries, or even turning the story into a play or movie (or online animation, I guess).

For our remote teaching world, I’d suggest having students read a story on their own, then discuss the comprehension questions via email or your class page/wall/blog. Then they can start writing. This can be done independently or they can brainstorm in groups online!

Finally, have them share their stories on their class blog or classroom or through email. Everyone can share then leave a comment, reflection, or question for each classmate!

The whole book is available in ebook, paperback, or in PDF at Teachers Pay Teachers. We also have individual stories at TpT.

Writing Journals for Every Occasion

We also have a set of writing journals out in ebook form and soon coming out in print! You can find them wherever you buy your books or click the links below. Each one contains 52 prompts, one for each week of the year, making them perfect as a periodic journal or writing prompt!

Inspirations Weekly Writing Journal: 52 Writing Prompts for Short Stories is a collection of fictional prompts and guiding questions to help you come up with an amazing story idea. There’s also a guide to the story arc. And tips for going through the writing process from idea to revision!

Agree Disagree Writing Journal Cover

Agree or Disagree: 52 Writing Prompts for Opinion Essays is a collection of 52 statements for academic essays, debates, or argument essays. There’s also some sample outlines, including the rebuttal form, and tips for going through the whole writing process.

Reflections Weekly Writing Journal

Reflections Weekly Writing Journal: 52 Writing Prompts About You includes one prompt per week about you. It’s a nice way to get into journalling or do a little free-writing as a transition in your day!

Share a trip you want to take or a nice memory or something you really hate!

New Mindsets and Habits for a New Routine

Of course, with everything going on, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. Patrice Palmer’s book on Teacher Self Care is more relevant than ever, and it even applies to parents or anyone feeling stressed out about our new lives!

The heart of Patrice’s approach is to look at the mindsets that cause you to get stressed out. I know for many there’s a lot of pressure to be creative or productive since we all supposedly have so much free time. But that mindset, “This is my best/only chance to do something great” is pretty stress-inducing. It’s also not particularly conducive to actually being productive, meaning many of us are probably being LESS creative or productive now. And then beating ourselves up for it.

If we give up that mindset, ….. Now if we want to be creative maybe we can set some realistic expectations like, “I’m gong to use the 20 minutes I used to commute to work just doodling/freewriting” or “I’m going to do my son’s schoolwork with him (I’m stuck watching him anyway) and try to learn something new”

Let us know if you use any of these resources, and above all be healthy and keep safe!

And do get in touch if there’s anything we can do to help make teaching and learning easier in these times.

Activities for Thanksgiving

There are a lot of reasons to teach about Thanksgiving and do some activities for Thanksgiving in the classroom. First, Thanksgiving is a major American holiday* and students living in the US should know about it. Second, it’s a great excuse to talk about important themes such as gratitude and family. For lower level students, you can always talk about food! Third, even EFL students with little exposure to American culture have probably heard of Thanksgiving. So it’s never a bad idea to share about the holiday.

So we’ve collected some activities on Teachers Pay Teachers that are perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving in the classroom. Click on the links for more information and to see a preview. These downloadable, printable, Thanksgiving activities come from two books: 60 Positive Activities for the Classroom and What Would You Do?. There’s also an activity from the author of Classroom Community Builders.

New Holiday writing and discussion activity.

This beautiful, hand-illustrated drawing, writing, or discussion prompt asks kids to design a new holiday! There’s a place to name it, and mark the calendar, draw or jot down some traditions, food, and activities for this amazing new day! They can be as creative and imaginative or realistic as they like.

Then, they can compare their holiday to a real celebration or to each other’s. To make it a Thanksgiving activity, have students come up with a holiday centered around gratitude, or food, or the harvest. How will their holiday differ from American Thanksgiving? How will it be the same?

Check out the New Holiday worksheet here.

Thanksgiving Activity to express gratitude for special people in my life.

Who are students grateful for and why? With some directed prompts, and some open ones, the students have to think about what that person adds to their life. This is a great way to find out what students really value in their friends and family, and it puts the emphasis on the reasons we are thankful, rather than the individuals themselves. It’s a perfect way to engender some Thanksgiving Day gratitude!

Check out the writing or discussion prompt here.

Letter Writing Thanksgiving Activity for kids

Ask students to think about someone who helped them and write a thank you note! This is a straightforward, but flexible activity that also builds positivity in the classroom and promotes Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

Check out this letter-writing prompt here.

Homeless Help Critical Thinking Thanksgiving Activity for Middle School or High School

You see a homeless person asking for money. They appear to be in good health and able to work. Do you give them money? This hypothetical prompt gets students thinking about some of the themes of Thanksgiving, including being grateful for what we do have, and the best way to help others.

In addition to the prompt, this critical thinking activity includes suggestions for variables or contexts that might change student answers, follow-up discussion questions, and extension ideas including a writing prompt.

Check out this innovative Thanksgiving discussion activity.

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a great introduction to Thanksgiving, particularly for EFL students who don’t know a lot about the holiday. It covers the Thanksgiving football game, the turkey dinner, the theme of gratitude and friendship, even a name-drop of the Mayflower and Miles Standish!

This lesson plan can be used to introduce the film, guide students through the film with comprehension questions, and then let them check their comprehension with a summary to fill out. Finally there are some discussion questions and ideas for extension.

Check out A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Lesson Plan.

Got any other go-to Thanksgiving Activities? Share in the comments!

* I know Canada has a Thanksgiving holiday too. However, it’s not celebrated in the same way. In fact, as best I can tell, it’s not as major a holiday as the American Thanksgiving.

EdYOUfest Takeaways

Ed You Fest 2019 Certificate issued to Walton Burns for delivering the presentation Playing with Language

EdYOUfest, where I presented on using drama to teach speaking skills, was a lot of fun. The most striking feature of the conference is that it’s small (under 100 people) and that you are all sleeping, eating, and going to workshops in the same space. So there’s a lot of socialization, great discussions, laughter, and fun. There were drinks every night, dances on two of the four nights we were there, and an excursion up Glastonbury Tor. Someone commented on a tweet of mine about EdYOUfest, “Don’t you ever do any work?” So it’s easy to forget that EdYOUfest is actually a proper conference with workshops and speakers. Since I’ve already shared my pics of Glastonbury Tor, I thought I’d write about a couple of takeaways from the conference itself.

The theme of this year’s conference was psychology and language learning. So it’s quite fitting that one of the themes threading through many workshops was the power of positivity. Almost all the speakers touched on the importance of creating a positive environment in class where students felt comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and seeking out help.

Ed You Fest 2019 Certificate issued to Walton Burns for delivering the presentation Playing with Language

A little anxiety can be motivating, but some of our traditional teacher practices can be quite stressful to students, potentially driving them to stop participating. Larissa Albano gave a wonderful demonstration of a lesson gone terrible wrong in her presentation on Lowering the Affective Filter. She wrote new, unfamiliar language items on the board, pointing to them, and then pointing to students who were required to repeat them. The whole class was of course listening and the mean teacher was staring as the poor beginner student tried to pronounce these strange words. No modeling was given and no positive feedback, only a harrumph if the student failed.


Positive Psychology: More Than Just Fun and Games!

This was a nice post about from Patrice Palmer about 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom, one of our books that promotes positive psychology in the classroom. As Patrice writes below, research suggests many benefits to building positive emotions in the classroom

60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan front cover. Blue background. big yellow smiley face.60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan is a fun-filled resource with activities that can easily be used as fillers, enders or energizers.

I wanted to review this book because I’m a huge fan and student of positive psychology.  Although the book does not explicitly mention the science of this fastest growing form of psychology, the activities are designed to engage students in meaningful experiences individually and with others and increase their positive emotions.

The Importance of Positive Psychology

Positive emotions, like awe, surprise, love, joy, and gratitude promote new and creative actions, ideas, and strengthen social bonds. When students experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. (Frederickson, 2009).  There is fascinating research on laughter too so the activities in the book that elicit laughter induce warm fuzzy feelings in our students as well as other health benefits (Stambor, 2006).

If you still need to be convinced that positive emotions are a good thing for your students, the benefits are that it helps students to envision goals, take on new challenges, opens their minds to problem-solving, fosters resiliency, creates attachments to others, lays the groundwork for individual self-regulation, and guides the behaviour of group behaviour (Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, Perry, 2002).  In addition, many schools are implementing SEL (social and emotional learning) curriculum as it is an important factor in helping students develop crucial life skills beyond academic skills (Mulvahill, 2016). The activities in the book nicely support SEL.

Let’s get back to the book!

Some of my favourite activities in the book are:

#17 Happy Message in the Sky

#46 A Letter to Someone – an activity where students express gratitude (see Grant, 2010).  Extension activities could include reading the letter in person (significantly increases positive emotions for both parties) and designing a gratitude wall.

#45 Design a T-shirt for Each Day of the Week: I liked the creative aspect of activity

#47 An Act of Kindness: have students perform acts of kindness all year

#51 A Goal I Accomplished: accomplishing goals gives students a great sense of achievement. Share successes – big and small!

There are many more creative ideas in this book (with both written and oral applications) that students will love.


Nguyen says at the beginning of the book “creation can be its own reward” so teachers may wish to think about how to bring the activities off the page.

This must-have book that can be adapted to different levels and ages and is absolutely loaded with new ways to engage students in activities that increase positive emotions. At first glance, the activities may seem like they lack substance but don’t underestimate the power and value of these 60 positive activities.

The book can be purchased here where you can also download some free sample of some of the activities

If you teach young learners, there is a perfect edition for young learners 


Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research reveals how to embrace the hidden strength of positive emotions, overcome negativity, and thrive. New York, NY, US: Crown Publishers/Random House.

Grant,  A. (2010).   A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 98, No. 6

Mulvahill, E. (2016). 21 Simple Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning Throughout the Day

Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W. & Perry, R. (2002). Positive Emotions in Education. Beyond coping: Meeting goals, visions, and challenges / ed. by Erica Frydenberg (Ed.). Oxford : Oxford University Press

Stambor, Z. (2006). How laughing leads to learning. Research suggests that humor produces psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn Monitor Staff.  Monitor Staff. Vol 37, No. 7

This post was originally published on Patrice’s site here.

Prewriting Activities for Young Learners and Lower Level Students

Prewriting is really just a fancy way of saying “planning to write”. For many writers, it includes brainstorming and outlining. But prewriting activities for young learners, who often have lower proficiency in English as well as lower attention spans and writing skills, need to be designed carefully. Young learners often don’t have a lot of vocabulary around a topic. Using a complex outline or graphic organizer can be intimidating and confusing. And it always helps with kids if your classroom activities are engaging and quick.

That’s one reason I really like Teresa X. Nguyen‘s books of illustrated creative prompts. While the activities are highly adaptable to fit almost any classroom or educational setting, they also make really good prewriting activities for young learners and lower-level students. Because the activities take the form of drawings and the style is cartoony and friendly, they’re not intimidating at all. Students won’t even realize they are doing something academic. You can even scaffold by having students color the page or add their own drawings, then add words.

For example, here’s a great sample prompt that builds student positivity (These fabulous illustrations are by the very talented Tyler Hoang):

Turn a Simple Prompt into a Prewriting Activity for Young Learners

Imagine that we’re using the prompt above: good things I’ve done, big or small!

First, make sure that students understand the prompt. They should think about achievements or good deeds in the past that they have personally done. And it doesn’t have to be something big like winning a contest.

You can set your own standards, but I’d tell my students to think of things they are proud, no matter what the size. It could be drawing a cool picture, reading a book, running really fast, or helping out at home. You can also let students use L1 to brainstorm and then translate with a dictionary or the help of their classmates.

Once students understand, set a timer so that students don’t overthink it, get distracted. 10-15 minutes should be enough. Have them try to fill out all four boxes with something. If their level is very low, it might be a word or two, or even a drawing, or some combination of words and pictures. Don’t let them worry about spelling at this point. As long as they know what they wrote, it’s fine.

Put students in pairs to discuss their responses. Again set a clear time limit so they don’t go off subject. They should be doing two things:

  • Helping each other with vocabulary and spelling. I like letting students correct each other before they consult a dictionary because it shows the power of social learning, and it also creates natural feedback, e.g.
    “Wait, every week you visit your grandmother and help her do what? The crucigram? The puzzle, you mean? I think it’s called a word cross, no, no, crossword in English”
  • Choosing the most interesting topic. We write for an audience. So the best way to help students chose a good topic is to open up their ideas to an audience such as their classmates. This also provides a great chance for natural interaction. After all, if a topic is interesting, the other student will ask questions and express admiration: “Wait, you have a black belt in aikido? Cool. How long have you been doing it?”

Now your students have their topic for their writing. They can begin to think about how to organize a longer writing about it.

I like to introduce the 5-Ws (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) to flesh out the story and include details!

  • Who in this case is probably the student.
  • What might seem equally obvious, but encourage students to break down their activity or achievement. If it’s a good deed, what exactly happened, what was the aftermath? If it’s an activity they excel at like aikido, have them think about what they do at practice, what it means to have done well at it?
  • When, Where, and Why speak for themselves, I hope!

They can sketch or make notes at this stage. Alternatively, I’m fond of Draw-Label-Caption. It’s a great prewriting activity for young learners on it’s own and it fits well with many of the prompts in 60 Positive Activities for Kids.

Now they have a lot of details that they can use to start writing their story. Again, I’m a big fan of letting them work with a partner, at least to have someone to check their spelling or discuss words and grammar. However, at this point I would also let them use resources like their dictionaries or their phones or books.

I hope this has been helpful in showing how to move from a simple prompt or even a drawing to a longer piece of writing, scaffolded for younger learners. You can also check out some suggestions for using drawings in language teaching or check out Emily Bryson’s course on graphic facilitation.

But Wait, There’s More….

While they make nice first steps toward a longer writing, you can also use the activities in Teresa’s book as:

  • Discussion starters
  • Brain-breaks or stress-busters in a long or difficult class
  • Warmers
  • Fillers
  • Fast-finisher activities
  • A “diary” where students periodically do one activity in class and get their creative juices flowing

Feel free to leave comments and let us know how you use 60 Positive Activities for Kids in your classroom.

Ways to Make Me Laugh

Humor can be a powerful tool in the classroom. As I’ve written elsewhere before,  Humor plays a large role in my teaching. I use jokes to lighten the mood and make learning fun. I use self-deprecating humor so that students feel comfortable challenging me and so that they understand that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. I use humorous stories to establish rapport. And I make silly skits and demonstrations of words or grammar points so that students will remember them.

But humor is also different from culture to culture and from person to person. And while they say if you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny anymore, people love talking about what makes them laugh. And some humor does seem to transcend cultural and national boundaries. Look at the universal appeal of Jackie Chain, Mr. Bean or Jim Carrey’s early movies, for example.

A sample page from 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan.

All that is to say, that a great warmer or filler activity, is to ask students to share something that makes them laugh. It gets students talking and using the language. But it does more than that. As Teresa X. Nguyen writes in the introduction to 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom, activities that encourage students to focus on the positive can increase student motivation, help them focus on tasks, and even build resilience in the face of academic challenges. And we certainly know that stress and negative emotions can hinder learning.

Fun and happiness are obviously not the only factor that a classroom needs, but positivity is a powerful tool that can support better learning outcomes. And it’s something every student will have something to say about. And after letting your students talk about humor and ways to make them laugh in the classroom, they’ll be ready to tackle more difficult or less interesting tasks.



Drawing in Language Teaching on National Drawing Day

May 19th is National Drawing Day (at least in Ireland) and while it might seem to odd to use drawing in language teaching, there are a number of benefits to incorporating art in your language lessons. Art can be a source of discussion as students describe an interpret works of art. Students can also discuss and explain their own works of art and how they created them. Drawings and visuals can also be a way to present new vocabulary. Many teachers use pictures to help explain a new word. But a picture showing new vocabulary in context gets students engaging at a deeper level. This in turn improves their memory. Art also provides more for students to talk about.  And drawing is a way for students who lack vocabulary to express themselves.

Our 60 Positive Activities for Kids and 60 Positive Activities for Adults books are wonderful opportunities to mix art with language. Each page of these collections of prompts is an invitation to draw and sketch before moving on to more language-focused activities! We’ve discussed how in this post on these positive prompts for students!

Creating art can even be a way of reacting to story, or a form of prewriting. Stories Without End by Taylor Sapp is a collection of unfinished short stories and is full of ways to incorporate art and drawing in language teaching, giving students many opportunities to create visual as well as written projects.

Ideas for using Drawing in Language Teaching

  • Get students to play a drawing game like Pictionary to practice vocabulary.
  • Use doodling as a kind of soft start to class or a check-in. Students could draw how they feel, how they feel about the homework, what they look forward to doing in class, or more.
  • Have students draw a goal of theirs in English. Let them visualize what life will be like when they finish their studies (or maybe just a goal for the month or term)
  • Let students create a comic or storyboard. This is great pre-writing, but it’s also a way to make writing narratives accessible to students with limited language.
  • Have students create their own emojis or icons to illustrate their writing!
  • Have students draw a selfie and use it to introduce themselves
  • Give students a writing or discussion prompt and let them respond by drawing their response first. Then they can tell label or caption the drawing, tell a partner what they drew and take questions. Now they are ready to write a longer response on the topic, armed with vocabulary and some ideas for details to fill in!
  • Have students draw a scene from a story and explain why they chose that scene. What visual details would they add and why? This helps them process how authors build mood with small details. It can also help students figure out the action of the story, and what they may or may not have understood.
  • Turning a story into a comic or storyboard for a film is a great exercise for exploring fiction. Getting students to put a story into a new medium
  • An idea taken directly from Stories Without End by Taylor Sapp is to create a poster for the story in the style of a movie poster. Again, this gets students crossing genre boundaries. It also forces them to pick what they think is most important. Or the most appealing in the story.

I’d love to hear your ideas for incorporating drawing into language teaching! Leave a comment!