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What aren’t they doing?
Ian Kime
June 17, 2021

What aren’t they doing?


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Sometimes googling insert grammar point here + classroom activies can be depressing. It’s often a list of the same 7-14 obvious activities that sound like they should work but are hardly ever engaging. Couple that with the fact that many of us are now working online, and you’ve got a recipe for a sad, bland, boring disaster.

However, sometimes there just isn’t a way around the obvious exercises. For instance, how do you practice present continuous to describe pictures and videos without showing pictures and having them describe what’s going on? You can’t. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to make it interesting, but the best I ever got was showing A Sunday Afternoon on the Jetty and having students point out different characters and their actions. There’s some good vocab in there!

Well, after a few nights of tumbling and turning about this idea in my head, I think I’ve come up with something that may just make this type of exercise a little more interesting. As a bonus, it works the negative form of present continuous. For any new teachers out there, don’t forget to make your students practice the negative form – even if you think it’s obvious! It’s not. It is never obvious in another language, so please make your students work on it as much as, if not more than, the affirmative!

Here’s how it works…

There are 8 photos of different groups of people in different situations. Students play individually, in pairs, or in small groups. One person (the presenter) chooses a photo (they can choose or it can be chosen by you) which they will describe to the others (players). A player rolls a number on a die (real or online) corresponding to a clue at the top of the page. The presenter must then follow the directions of the clue.

For example:

A student rolls a 2 and the presenter says, “There is a man, but he isn’t watching television with his friends.”
Another student rolls a 1 and the presenter says, “There is a woman, but she isn’t wearing a Christmas hat.”
Another student rolls another 2 and the presenter says, “They aren’t drinking beer.”


After the first clue is presented, there is a potential for 10 points to be scored by both the presenter and a player. After each clue that follows, one point less will be earned by both parties. This incentivizes the student describing the photo to describe the other photos in the negative in order to give the fewest amount of clues.

The student describing the photo has given 5 clues and another student chooses the correct photo. Both the presenter and the player earn 6 points.

It would be too easy to keep saying “He isn’t flying a plane” “He isn’t swimming in the ocean” etc…

The 8 photos were chosen to have pairs with similar situations and plenty of things to describe. The die element of the game does not need to be followed – I just love rolling dice… This game can be played with your own photos, or with a simple google word search. Screen share the photos that appear when searching “on the beach” and play the same way. It’s a unique way to practice the negative form while also hammering home the idea that we use the present continuous to describe actions in photos!

Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.


  1. jill collinge

    This looks fab and I’d love to try it – but I’ve tried with Safari and Chrome for the Mac and it just doesn’t download. I agree that students really do need to practise the negative (and questions) almost more than the positives.

    • Ian Kime


      I’ve just fixed the download link, so it should work now. If you are still having trouble just send an email to contact@eslexpertz.com and I will send it to you directly.

      I’m glad you agree with me 😉



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