ELTpics: A Digital Picture File for English Language Teachers

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As teachers, we oftenwant to use images in our own classrooms. Although the Internet is full of wonderful pictures, it can sometimes be a challenge to find just the right picture that is also free of copyright restrictions.

When I was first starting out in the field, about 35 years ago, no self-respecting English language teacher would venture into the classroom without that key audiovisual aid known as the magazine picture file. To make a picture file, a teacher would painstakingly comb through popular magazines, cut out photographs that might be useful in the classroom, and then paste them on construction paper or card stock. Some teachers even laminated their pictures. You would then organize these in some kind of filing system, perhaps by category. So you might have one set of pictures that you would use for a lesson talking about food and another set of pictures for a lesson talking about clothing. You might have a section of pictures representing action verbs that you could use in the classroom as prompts. Teachers would also organize 35 mm slides to use in class to show images.

Today’s teachers, of course, are much more likely to use of digital materials. And now the picture file has gone digital as well. Fortunately for you, an enterprising group of teachers got together and harnessed the power of their collective knowledge and cameras to create a massive online picture file for English language teachers. The website is called ELTpics. The idea came from a group of international teachers who gather regularly on Twitter to discuss classroom ideas and other issues of interest to language teachers. They combined their knowledge and put out a call to teachers to contribute photographs of their own that could be used without any royalty payments.

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