Speaking Lesson Plan (B2+): Selfies and Self-Portraits


Materials to download

Powerpoint presentation: selfies-1(.pdf format)   selfies-1 (.ppt format)

Descriptions of self-portraits for the reading stage: selfie-descriptions (.docx format)selfie-descriptions (.pdf format)

This is a fun EFL lesson plan I created to provide speaking and vocabulary practice to  higher level students. It encourages discussion around the subject of art, modern “selfie” culture, and ends with a CAE part 2-style question on self-portraits.

I find it’s great light relief from a heavy FCE, CAE, or CPE course, and would also complement any unit on art, current affairs, technology, social media and the like.

(note: there are quite a few images in the PowerPoint associated with this class, which may not be in the public domain. However, they largely of works of art which I am using in an educational context)

Warmer: I usually begin by asking students to draw a picture of themselves. Some students may find this a bit odd or childish, but most usually get into the spirit of things and produce something.

Ask students to compare their drawings and ask how far they think this is a fair reflection of the way they see themselves.

Try to keep the discussion light in tone and be careful to ensure nobody feels too self-conscious.

The next stage (entirely optional, of course!) is to show one of your own selfies and ask if this is a better way of showing the way you see yourself.

Speaking (analysing an image): Ask the students to look at the two images on the slide (slide 4). Ask students to discuss the similarities and differences between the images, focussing on form, composition, what you can see in the background, the purpose of the image, and anything else they find relevant.

picture2                     picture3

For FCE/CAE/CPE students, remind them that they will have to analyse images in their speaking test and this is an opportunity to practise. 

Reading and vocabulary (understanding a short text): Tell the students that they are going to read about four great self-portraits. Cut up the descriptions of the artworks (adapted from a Guardian article) and distribute among the students. Ask students to read and consider what impression they get of the art from the description. There is a lot of high-level descriptive vocabulary in here, which is great for increasing range for your CAE C1 and CPE C2 learners. You should pre-teach for FCE B2 learners.

To test their comprehension of the description, tell the students to divide a blank page into quarters. They are then going to draw their idea of what each self-portrait looks like!

Discussion (reacting to the texts):  students compare their drawings in small groups, referring back to the vocabulary in the texts to justify their representation.

Next, show the real images (slide 6) and students can compare their impressions with the real thing! Whenever I have done this, I have been amazed by how close the students have got!

Speaking task (CAE part 2): Following the rubric for part 2 of the CAE exam, students take turns to compare the pictures on the slides (7 &8) and answer the question.

While listening, students peer monitor for the range of vocabulary. As feedback you can share examples of interesting descriptive language.

Wrap-up: Finish with a discussion on whether selfies can ever be considered art. Ask how useful the class has been at giving them the confidence to explore the ideas and themes suggested by an image.

Homework task: Ask students to take a selfie that they think represents some aspect of their personality. They should prepare an explanation of the image alongside it.

Next lesson, show the selfies in class and ask students to explain their choice and what they think it shows about themselves. You could even create a selfie “art gallery” in the classroom!



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