Lithuanian photographer Adas Vasiliauskas has been using a drone to capture pictures of people in their homes since the country went under quarantine on 16th March, 2020. Each portrait is an imaginative exercise in creativity by the dwellers, too. “I started this project to give people a chance to brighten their day in this negative corona information environment,” says Adas. “I believe that these funny photos remind everyone that sitting quarantined at home can be fun too. And, of course, to remind everybody that you need to keep your social distance during these times.”
I contacted Adas about the possibility of using some of his photographs for a lesson and he readily agreed to it. His work provides such an inspiring and vibrant context that it will be difficult for students not to come up with unique, memorable personal responses to it — and we all know how important this is for a good language learning task to become relevant and meaningful. Let’s just add some flexibility so that the students can work at their own performance level.
1. Have students brainstorm any words related to “quarantine” and share their connections with each other. Introduce Adas’ project.
2. The students examine the photographs with a series of questions in mind. This is the more objective part of the description, where they identify the main elements in each picture:
- Who is in the picture?
- Where are they? What can you see?
- What are they doing?
- If there’s more than one person in the photograph, what do you think their relationship is?
3. The students choose six pictures and illustrate their first reactions by writing a caption for each of them. Encourage them to use informal language and the appropriate tone, which should match that of the picture.
4. Have students choose their favourite photograph and ask them to analyse it:
- What can you tell about the people in the picture?
- What would you ask these people? Write one question.
- How do you imagine the person or people in the photo in two hours’ time? What do you think happened right before taking the picture?
- How does the picture make you feel?
5. Steps 1-4 are the planning stage for a writing task in which students write a description of their favourite picture that includes both objective and subjective elements. You may want to revise adjectives of physical appearance and character first, but you can also ask students to use this site and have them come up with adjectives for any noun they’re trying to describe, making their learning experience even more individual and enriching.
At this moment, I’m also going to give the students the option to record their description, and even interview a few members of their family and friends with their own reactions:
- How do these snapshots connect with your own experience?
- Share these pictures with your family and friends. What do they think about them? Do they agree with your choice? Which photographs do they like most? Why do you think so?
Of course, this will be a great writing and speaking task to do with the students in class in the near future! I am now just wondering how the students will react to this lesson in a few years’ time…
Special thanks to Adas Vasiliauskas for giving permission to use his inspiring portraits in this lesson and to publish them here. Please check his website at http://tasfotografas.lt/