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Ministry of Education.

Picture matching

Listening Strategy: Picture Matching (Word 19KB)  

ESOL Principles:

Most strategies can be used to support all seven of the ESOL principles dependent upon how the teacher decides to use the strategy within their teaching and learning planning cycle. This strategy is usually used to support:

Principle 3: Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes?

Principle 5: Provide multiple opportunities for authentic language use with a focus on students using academic language. Is the language focus on key language? Do I make sure the students have many opportunities to notice and use new language?

Principle 6: Ensure a balance between receptive and productive language. Are the students using both productive (speaking, writing) and receptive (listening, reading) language in this lesson?


Picture Matching (Word 19KB) develops students’ listening skills and builds their understanding of key concepts and vocabulary.

The teacher creates a series of clear diagrams or pictures that illustrate the central concepts of the unit of work or the main events in a text. The teacher also writes one sentence that describes each diagram simply, mixes them up and numbers each sentence. Provide a copy of the diagrams/pictures to each student. The teacher reads each sentence out aloud twice. On the first reading the students just listen. On the second reading they listen and write the number of the sentence next to the diagram it describes.

The students can then check their work with a partner.

Extension activity:

Picture matching can be extended into a skills flow activity (RTF 47KB) . The students retell the story orally, using the pictures as prompts. They can then write the story and compare their version with the original. (For younger students the diagrams can be cut up and glued into their workbook in the correct sequence and they write alongside.) In this way a skills flow is used - the students listen, speak, then write and lastly they compare and notice the language differences.

Related activities:

Listening to Pictures is a similar activity where students each have a copy of the same picture. The teacher reads statements about the picture written to include the target language/vocabulary. The students listen and do the action required of them - eg. writing the correct answer, choosing whether the statement is true or false, write a number next to the item described, draw the route taken etc.

Picture matching – Matching a picture or diagram with a word, sentence or paragraph. This tends to be a vocabulary activity. Students can also be asked to sequence a series of pictures with text in order to retell a story or sequence a procedure etc.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 1 - Year 10 Maths.

Teaching and learning sequence planning examples:

Primary level:

  • Molluscs, Focus on English series- Animals, Activity 1.65 Listening to pictures: Science/English, years 7-10.
  • 2D shapes, Focus on English series – Shapes, Activity 2.10 Listening to pictures-prepositions, word-picture matching: Mathematics/English, years 7-10.
  • Life cycles, Focus on English series – Plants, Activity 3.27 – labelling plants, listen to and follow instructions: Science/English, years 7-10.

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • Where in my teaching cycle is this task best placed? What knowledge will my students need to have before undertaking this task?
  • How can I help my student’s to think about what good listeners do, before undertaking this task?
  • How can I model/scaffold a language structure that my students need to understand through the design of this task?
  • As I observe my students what do I notice about what my students can understand and what they are having difficulty with? How will this knowledge inform my future planning and teaching?


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Published on: 12 Sep 2012