Photos can help children learn about the world and learn language. I’ve been teaching a long time, and for most of my career, photos for Spanish class were hard to come by and expensive. In addition, the options for display were dismal.
Then, the magic of digital photography happened. Not only can I show students beautiful photographs from all over the world, I can put text on the pictures! I am still amazed by this! It is a language teacher’s dream come true.
Culture in Photos for Spanish Class
Photos make it easy to build culture into classroom activities, because any theme can be supported by photographs from Spanish-speaking countries. Of course, you do have to choose photos carefully. Regardless of the activity I am doing, I make a concerted effort to avoid stereotypes and provide a context for the photographs for Spanish class.
Search Activities with Photos for Spanish Class
You can use search activities to review vocabulary and practice reading, and as far as I can tell, students never get tired of them. I also use them to give students a glimpse of life in Spanish-speaking countries. Below you can see examples of photo searches with pictures of a street in Buenos Aires, Argentina and two from Oaxaca, Mexico. The photos from Oaxaca are from Pixabay – an excellent resource for public domain photographs. Click on the photos to see them full size. To download the search activities, right click and choose “Save as”.
Captions on Photos for Spanish Class
You can pair photos with text to create comprehensible input. Choose a focused photograph and write a caption using familiar words in a simple sentence. The idea is that the caption can only be interpreted in limited ways. Of course, you will also point to the photograph to help kids understand. Follow up with questions kids can answer by pointing, such as ¿Dónde está …?.
I have an album of these photos with captions on Facebook. All of the photos are from Spanish-speaking countries. Below you can see several examples.
Pre-reading with Photos for Spanish Class
You can also use a focused photo to talk about a specific topic. This works well as a pre-reading activity. I used the photo activity below, for example, before we read a story about bears.
Reading Comprehension with Photos for Spanish Class
A photo can also create character, a setting or even a complete story. By adding text to the photo, you can make the most of text-to-picture correspondence. You can even add arrows to make it more explicit. You can find comprehension questions for the dragon photo here.
Questions with Photos for Spanish Class
Of course, photos can also provide context for complete activities, because they are an excellent way to create comprehensible input. I present a photo and describe it with gestures and pointing. Then I used structured questions to talk about the photo. You can see an example below. I have lots of these activities in the category Learn Spanish with Pictures.
1. Describir la foto – Describe the photo
En la foto hay tres mujeres. Ellas venden fruta. La fruta está en dos platos muy grandes. Hay sandía, plátanos, piña y otras frutas en los platos. Las mujeres llevan vestidos de muchos colores. Llevan pañuelos en la cabeza. La mujer del medio lleva un vestido con imágenes de fruta. Detrás de las mujeres hay una pared amarilla.[Translation.] In the photo, there are three women. They sell fruit. The fruit is in two very big bowls. There is watermelon, bananas, pineapple and other fruit in the bowls. The women are wearing dresses with many colors. They are wearing scarves on their heads. The woman in the middle is wearing a dress with pictures of fruit. Behind the women, there is a yellow wall.
2. Señalar con el dedo – Pointing and counting
¿Cuántas mujeres hay en la foto?
¿Cuántos platos con fruta hay?
¿Dónde está la sandía?
¿Dónde están los plátanos?
¿Dónde está la pared amarilla?
3. Sí o no – Yes or No
¿Hay tres mujeres?
¿Hay tres platos grandes?
¿La sandía está en un plato grande?
¿La pared es roja?
¿Las mujeres llevan pañuelos en la cabeza?
4. Seleccionar la respuesta – Choose the answer
¿Hay dos mujeres o tres mujeres?
¿Hay dos platos de fruta o tres platos de fruta?
¿Los platos son grandes o pequeños?
¿El vestido de la mujer del medio tiene imágenes de fruta o imágenes de animales?
¿La pared es roja o amarilla?
5. Decir un poco más – Say a little more (respuestas/answers)
¿Cuántas mujeres hay en la foto? (Hay tres mujeres.)
¿Qué venden las mujeres? (Las mujeres venden fruta.)
¿Dónde está la fruta? (La fruta está en platos grandes.)
¿Cuántos platos hay? (Hay dos platos.)
¿Qué tipo de fruta hay en los platos? (Hay sandía, piña y plátanos en los platos).
6. ¿Y tú? – What about you?
Las mujeres tienen vestidos de muchos colores. ¿Cuál es tu color favorito?
¿Te gusta la sandía?
¿Te gustan los plátanos?
¿Cuál es tu fruta favorita?
7. Vocabulario – Vocabulary
la foto – photo
hay – there are / there is
mujeres – women
ellas – they
venden – are selling
fruta – fruit
está – is
dos – two
platos – bowls
muy – very
grandes – big
sandía – watermelon
plátanos – bananas
piña – pineapple
otras – other
llevan – are wearing
vestidos – dresses
muchos – many
colores – colores
pañuelos – scarves
la cabeza – head
del medio – in the middle
lleva – is wearing
imágenes de fruta – pictures of fruit
detrás – behind
una pared – a wall
amarilla – yellow