Using pictures as props is part and parcel of our daily ELT life.

WAITING FOR THE PLANE.
Nina MK, Ph.D.
Using pictures as props is part and parcel of our daily ELT life. Visual aids are indispensable for developing speaking and writing skills in learners of any age and level. All we need to do is plan carefully what, when, how many props we want to use.

Warm-Up. 2-3 minutes.
Ask your students if they ever travel. Suggest that they list different kinds of transportation and waiting places. You will see the following relevant points at a glance:
• While some children travel with their families a lot, others may have no experience at all. Be sure to clarify that you are teaching them the vocabulary, not eliciting any personal data.
• Even world-weary adolescents may not know all the terms, like airport, check-in counters, online registration, train terminals etc. Jot down a few items for future work if/as needed.
• Ask them to simply raise their hands if they ever take pictures on a trip, or think it is a good idea to take pictures while traveling.

Speaking about a Picture. 15 minutes (3 five-minute segments).
• Segment 1. Introducing the visual aid.
Show the Waiting for the Plane picture to the class. Write down the traditional questions on the board: who, what, where, when, why, how long. Ask them to offer random comments; be sure to encourage them to produce full sentences.
• Segment 2. Speaking.
Separate your class into two groups. Suggest that they quickly discuss the topic, and designate a speaker who would describe the picture and offer the group’s comments.
• Segment 3. Writing.
Give the class five minutes to write a few sentences about Waiting for the Plane. Depending on their age and level, you may wish to set a limit of 100 or so words, or of 5-10 sentences.

Continuation. Discussion. 5-10 minutes.
This stage requires careful planning and tact. If you have a group of children who never go anywhere, you may share your own experiences, or show them a good video clip, or read a passage from a travel book. This may be a beneficial experience in itself. Let me make what is called a lyrical digression here.
As a child aged ten, in my fifth year at school, I had a wonderful geography teacher. In September, she returned from a trip to some exotic place where she went with her husband, a renowned scientist. She explained to us that he made a big presentation in front of people from a hundred countries, and she enjoyed being an accompanying person. Then she took out an amazing, a magical object from her purse: a real coconut! While we knew the word and saw the pictures before, we had never seen anything like that in reality. She walked around, letting us touch it, then carefully opened its top, took out a tiny spoon and walked around again, pouring a tiny dollop of coconut milk into our eager open mouths. I still remember vividly the whole talk, and the quaint taste. And I believe that she taught me another extremely valuable lesson: the importance of sharing.
No matter how sophisticated or how inexperienced your pupils are, as an adult, you have more knowledge than they do.

Extension. Web Research. 10 minutes.
Show the Waiting for the Plane picture again. Ask them if all the information they need is indeed to be found on the web. Listen to a few answers, even if all of them are in the “Of course!” category. Then share a few tidbits of your own. For instance, when I fly from my home town direct to Frankfurt or Munich in Germany, and have to change planes, I enjoy their quiet little areas where one can get a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and read a newspaper, for free. A cup of cappuccino after a seven-hour flight and before another one is much appreciated.
Tell them to choose an airport, a train station or a city, and browse the web to see what they find. For instance, I have just read that there are 135 shops in the main train station building in Zurich, Switzerland; they are open Monday through Sunday, while most city shops are closed on Sundays. Are there any other train stations like that in Europe? That is a nice question to find an answer to! I tell them about an airport where I check the same shop window each time I happen to be there, Swarovski. No, I do not buy any jewellery. I am absolutely fascinated with one item, that of a big crystal parrot which costs about 1,000 euros. Besides the obvious inconvenience of carrying a bulky fragile object with you on a trip, I always wonder, does anybody really every buy anything that expensive and kind of useless in between flights? Yet there it sits on a shelf in all its glory, in an airport terminal shop. You may smoothly progress into a short discussion of useful things to be bought at an airport while waiting for the plane.

Hometask. Writing or Preparing a Short Talk.
Be sure to formulate the task clearly, according to the data you have accumulated at the lesson with your class. Tell them to find a picture or pictures of any place they wish, and to include today’s vocabulary into their talk or writing. You may write a list of words and expressions on the board beforehand, and open it up at the end of your lesson.
If your pupils do not have much experience in this area, suggest that they write a short essay of, say, 200 words on a place they would like to visit in the future.
If they do have at least some experience, suggest that they write a short essay about a place they had visited. They may write about their dream place if they prefer it.
Alternately, if possible, they may conduct a web research and share their findings in a presentation. They may bring in their own pictures and photos or souvenirs to the class next time.

Photo taken by @sandymillin | courtesy of ELTPics (https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/13927493161/in/set-72157626527253332)
Some rights reserved (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)

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