Some Picture Games (1) : Spot the Differences

Pictures can be invaluable in the classroom for stimulating discussion, and if you have a digital camera you can take your own so that they bring up exactly the language items which you want your students to practise. Here's an activity which uses pictures to set up an "information gap". Each student has half the information necessary to complete the task, and therefore has to communicate with a partner in the foreign language, asking questions and sharing their information in order to reach a conclusion.

Find or take two similar but not identical pictures, which are suitable for the age group you're teaching and which will bring out the language you want the student to practise - those illustrated were originally produced for an ESL group who were learning expressions like He looks as if and He seems to be ..... Pair the students and give each student in the pair one of the pictures. They must not show their picture to their partner. Tell them the number of differences there are between the pictures and then ask them to describe their pictures to each other, asking questions as necessary, to find out what the differences are - all obviously in the foreign language.
If you are teaching only one student, you can take the role of the second student, or the activity can be done in the following way : show the student one of the pictures for about ten seconds, and then ask her/him to turn it face down on the table. Then give the student the second picture and ask what differences s/he notices. After s/he has described as much as s/he can remember, the first picture is turned over again and the student can compare the two, adding any details which s/he did not remember previously.