Writing About Photographs With ELLs

Writing About Photographs With ELLs

Photographs offer excellent support for English Language Learners to use in writing. They can be used to help students generate ideas.  Visual vocabulary support is built into a high quality photograph. You can easily differentiate a writing assignment based on photographs. Writing about pictures is a simple way to introduce content information to students.

Lable Photographs with Newcomers

  1. Label objects in the photograph.
  2. Provide students with a list of objects found in the picture and have them label it.
  3. Write simple sentence frames. Then have students complete them with the words that they had labeled on the picture. (I see _______. I hear ______. The _____ is blue.)

Writing Simple Sentences with Emergent ELLs

  1. Have students talk about what they see in the photograph. They can then create a list of vocabulary or label the photograph.
  2. Present students with a writing prompt around the photograph.
  3. Review sentence frames and additional vocabulary to assist with writing.
  4. Allow students to talk about ideas with a partner or in a small group before writing.

Writing Complex Sentences with Advanced ESOL Students

  1. Present students with a writing prompt around the photograph.
  2. Allow students to talk about ideas with a partner or in a small group before writing. Students can also create a list of vocabulary or label the photograph.
  3. You can use sentence frames to introduce complex grammar structures or new vocabulary words for students to include.


Check out these premade picture writing prompts. They come in three levels, with a writing prompt, vocabulary bank, and sentence frames.

writing prompts

Writing about Photographs with ELLs

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