Describe and Draw

Purpose:  As well as its use for practicing descriptive language and the present continuous, this is a good exercise for informal assessment at the beginning of the first lesson of a new class of beginning or intermediate level students.

Prep time:  None

Materials:  white board and markers or paper and pencil if working one to one

Prep:  If necessary, practice what you intend to draw on the board!


  1. Silently draw a simple picture of a small house in the center of the board.
  2. Pass the marker to a student and indicate that they should add something to the picture.
  3. In turn, every student in the group is invited to add something to the drawing, which should help them become personally involved in the following language activity.  If you are working one to one, pass the paper back and forth, taking turns adding to the picture.
  4. When the picture is complete, begin asking simple questions, like “What is this?” and “What’s happening here?”  The goal is to encourage students to describe specific parts or aspects of the drawing.
  5. If students answer these questions easily, move on to more complex ones: “What do you think just happened?  Why do you think that’s happening?  What is going to happen next?”
  6. Together, these questions should produce enough language to give you a pretty good idea of the ability level of the students.


  • The silent period in this exercise works well with a new class because it helps them relax in a situation that is new and sometimes uncomfortable.  If the class isn’t new or is very comfortable, each student can describe what he or she is drawing as they draw it.  The whole class is then ready to move on to the higher level questions noted above.
  • Instead of each student thinking of something to draw, the rest of the class makes suggestions and the student with the marker picks the one he/she likes the best.
Blog Category: