How To Incorporate Photos In Language Lessons

Bryn Bonino
6 min readJan 8, 2019

Getting students producing the target language can be difficult, especially when they are uninspired to try out new things and don’t feel comfortable taking risks to keep growing their language skills. If you can incorporate your students’ own voice and preferences in your lessons, they are much more likely to feel comfortable in participating. In this article I’ll address a few ways to use students’ photos in a language classroom to get them creating their own language.

A Word A Day On Instagram

I first started thinking about how to incorporate Instagram in my classroom when I realized how many of my own students followed my own Instagram account. Then Clase De Español and I started following each other, and I really liked her posts of word(s) of the day. Then I thought about how I could leverage platform students are already on to get them thinking about my own Spanish class.

To get this Word A Day idea started, you’ll want to start a dedicated Instagram account for your classes, and make sure that it is private so that you can be sure to have a safe space for students to chat about their images. In order to create content, each unit you can give students a question to answer with an annotated photo. For example, if the unit is on pastimes, ask students to take or find a photo and annotate it with the target language. If a student likes watching movies, they can take a selfie with a movie playing on TV (or however they want to visually interpret “watching a movie”). Then they can use an app or software to write the pastime on the photo. I have used Canva and Google Drawings to quickly annotate an image using layers. If your students have access to Photoshop, they can use that.

To share the photos, you can have students turn them in to you, and you can post them on the class Instagram account. If you want to go with this option, you’ll want to use a social media management tool like Buffer to schedule posts to post automatically at the time you choose.

For another option that will take some burden of you (or anyone else) having to maintain the Instagram account, you can have students share photos on their own account with a designated hashtag. You can have students follow the hashtag to know when an image is tagged. If you like…

Bryn Bonino

Educator, marketer, and photographer. Learn more at