From pictures to words: How was your summer vacation?

My most recent YouTube lesson about summer vacation could be a springboard for different age groups at different levels of proficiency. Would you like your students to talk about their summer vacations? Do you want to share some common ways to ask how a vacation was spent? This could also include a review of question formation. Or perhaps your students need a review of irregular verbs in the simple past. Check out the 5-minute video to get your own ideas.

Some students may not jump so easily from watching a video to joining a discussion. For these more reserved speakers a few well-chosen photos might facilitate the transition. See some suggested photos from Pixabay below. As a first step that requires a response, but a non-verbal one, you can ask students to choose a photo that best represents their summer vacation. Alternatively, you could ask them to choose a photo of something they wished they could have done. If they’re not ready for perfect modals, phrase it more appropriately: “I wanted to do something like this, but I didn’t.”

















After choosing a photo, the students can write down 3-5 words they associate with the image. With these initial ideas, students can pair up and start talking based on your prompts. Some possibilities:

  • I spent some time (at the beach/ biking/ with friends).
  • I wanted to (read / study/ relax) more, but I didn’t have the time.
  • I had a good time when I (went to a concert/ visited relatives).
  • Unfortunately, I had to (stay home/ work/ cancel my plans).

Encourage questions for more details. To gain greater comfort speaking on the same topic, students can switch partners a few times.

Here are additional back-to-school lesson ideas.

  1. First-day Ideas
  2. End-of-Summer Activity
  3. Learning about the Teacher (a warm-up activity suggested by Walton Burns)


Photos retrieved from the public domain at


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