6 – Picture Gap Algorithm

Picture Gaps (Meaningful Output & Input)

Picture gaps are like story gaps. Pair sit in gap position. The speaker faces the screen, and the listener (and drawer) faces the speaker. If there is no projector, the speaker can hold picture and talk about it. The speaker just needs to make sure that the listener/drawer cannot see the picture. Here are the basic instructions for learners, which they see on the opening slide of the picture gap activity.

  1. Get in pairs.
  2. Get a pencil and a blank piece of paper.
  3. A faces the screen.
  4. B faces A.
  5. A describes the picture.
  6. B draws the picture based on A’s description.
  7. When finished, show your work to the class!

For this activity to work, the teacher must choose pictures that are easy to draw. In my classes, I always have a projector, and I have a template of slides for creating picture gap activities. Continuing with the sports theme, I have a set of fun sports pictures for the students to draw. There’s one of an ice skater falling. There’s a picture of a stuntman standing on two moving trucks (one leg on each truck). There’s a picture of an exciting motorcycle jump.

In short, we have a theme (sports), and we have several communicative principles. Students must describe what they see, and thus communicate a real message. Listeners must draw what they see, and thus they must demonstrate comprehension, but in an authentic way. Though this activity may sound hard. It is not. Intermediate and advanced English learners seem to verbally communicate the images well. Most of all, students seem to love it, and they produce some excellent pictures!


Dr. Joseph Poulshock

Dr. Joseph Poulshock works as Professor of English Linguistics in the Faculty of International Communication at Senshu University.