Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > About printables    

About printables


About printables

1. Does a worksheet have to come with pictures?


I hear you say: yes. The methodology we use asks for them.


2. What for?

They reinforce meaning and help the ss. to understand the subject.

Besides cognition, there is a motivational issue.


3. What if there are too many colours and too many pictures?

Cognitive load theory main idea:


Cognitive load theory is concerned with techniques for reducing working memory load in order to facilitate the changes in long term memory associated with schema acquisition.


Media interact, so there must be an adequate combination to optimise learning, otherwise, learning materials can became distracting.


A reference in this area:

Sweller, J., Australian Council for Educational Research

15 Aug 2009      


I remember a discussion on this topic when I first joined.  That was one of the reasons why
Victor allows us to upload a black and white version of our wss.   But  I completely agree
with you, Nika.  Although the content may be excellent and well thought out,  there are
many wss that are uploaded with so much colour and so many pictures and borders that it
takes me hours to "clean them up" for use in my classes.  It goes beyond the fact that I can
only reproduce them in black and white because the mere numbers that are needed.  I am
sure the my pupils would love all the pictures etc,  but I could never get them to focus on
the important content in the ws because they are so easitly distracted.
Also there seems a need to squeeze 2-3 pages of material into 1 page creating texts with
fonts that require a magnifining glass to read.
I think on a one to one basis - as in private tutoring where you are sitting next to your
pupil,  a teacher can use his finger on the page to keep the pupil focused.  But, with a class
of 35 -40 pupils,  from my experience it is much more difficult.
Please, I don �t want anyone to take this comment personally.  I am just stating an opinion.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

15 Aug 2009     


You made a good point there, Eng789! Please, allow me to highlight those which I consider the most relevant:

Upload a black and white version: even though it�s easy for everybody to do, that�s thoughtful of some members.

takes me hours to "clean them up"  Appreciated your humour. This is what I usually do: print a colour copy: some are good to make classroom posters. I made a poster with this one:


and deliver black and white copies to the ss. I can�t provide colour copies to each one.

Fonts that require a magnifying glass to read. Made me laugh again. Definitely bad choice. Affects learning.

private tutoring: yes, I tend to use colour with special needs children, private here in the sense that there could be 1 to three ss., depending on their condition.


15 Aug 2009     


Excellent point.
First time I don �t think that my taste must be weird and I must be the only one who spends hours taking out colours, frames (no, I haven �t managed to take out frames, no idea how it works) and pictures.
Sometimes so much time that I might have made the "sober" worksheet that this process results in myself during that time.

I take out the colour and pictures
- because we don �t have colour copiers in my part of the world (not in schools anyway, schools have become very poor)
- because all these pictures distract students
- because in my view in many cases I find that pictures don �t match the task.
It struck me the other day with a ws about adjectives characterising people. One clipart per adjective. There was this fellow with the big bald head - and the adjective was "intelligent". Does a big bald head make you intelligent?
There �s another fellow who is handing someone else a bunch of flowers. He �s got ots of hearts around his head. The adjective is "faithful". Now how do you know it �s not his mistress but his wife he �s giving them to?
A man and a dog are standing next to each other putting their arms around the other �s shoulders. The adjective is "obedient". Puzzled me. Who obeys whom?
And a woman who was associated to the word  "tidy" was all dressed up and made up to go out, looking at herself in a mirror. Can �t see what �s tidy about a long red dress and very red lips.

Now this ws got over 230 downloads within 16 hours and lots of enthusiastic comments.
So I kept telling myself that MY taste in worksheets must be particular or strange or so. Nice to hear I �m not the only one...

15 Aug 2009     


You made me laugh here and laughing at the computer makes me a wirdo, I guess. Some people have caught me. Always online forums� fault.
This is an issue about the method itself. Lots of jokes about it. Let �s see if we can come up with a thread of school jokes in the cafe. Some of us will say: NO SCHOOL, here, NOOOOOO!
Back on track, see what Inez Berendez wrote in Learning and Instruction, Aug2009, Vol. 9, Issue 4.

The results show that illustrations can have a detrimental effect on performance on arithmetic word problems, produced by irrelevant, redundant or interacting sources of information. Principles from cognitive load theory are used to explain the results, in particular in relation to (poor) working memory ability.

What do we make of that? We overload short term memory with too much, different types of information, The process of learning slows down, the ss take more time to learn. I guess that an experienced teacher can easily take a grasp of the student , slowing down, being puzzled, trying to figure out what that is all about. Doesn´t everybody get confused when there is much information around?That�s too much information to process.
Why do old people make mistakes on the roads? With you there the problem may be not as huge has ours here in Portugal, because of the general educational level. It�s just because the traffic, the signs up there, on the right, on the floor, are so confusing and much more complex than when they took their driving licenses, plus, with the ageing process, we need more time to process information, make a decision about which way to go and� BANG! Oooops!


By the way, I �m loosing some hair. Do you think I could also be getting  more intelligent? Just a thought...Geek

15 Aug 2009     


Oh, there is no doubt about that. The balder, the more intelligent.
And if you give me a bunch of flowers and some nice looks tonight, you �ll be a faithful person.
Just don �t begin to be obedient to your dog if you �ve got one ... Tongue

15 Aug 2009     


Thank you nikadixon for rising this interesting issue.
I completely agree with you,especially if we put in mind that most of these WSs here are directed to young learners.So,I don �t think uploading and cramming students can yield any good results.
Students are motivated by the environments we set up and the quality of activities we offer,not by the number of pictures or voc words they find in a ws.
Children learn best through active involvement with real objects and through taking part in the learning process,and not through sitting still infront of a colourful page counting the number of new words they have to match with a number of hazy pictures.
Does that mean there is no place for worksheets in a high quality child setting?No- for two reasons:
First,wss can provide opportunities to reinforce skills children are already working on.
Second,well designed wss can encourage children �s creative thinking and problem solving skills.Useful wss can also help students sharpen their imagination.These skills are called divergent thinking skills and are important to children �s intellectual development.
So,before making any ws,we should set up our objectives and ask ourselves these three questions:
-Will this ws trigger my student �s divergent thinking skills?
-Will this ws serve as a guide to my students � total involvement in the learning process?
-Will this ws reinforce pre-taught material?
Thank you nikadixon and edlerverein for the jokes.

15 Aug 2009     


What an interesting topic! Thank you Nikadixon for bringing it up. About that too-much information thing, I must confess that when I see all those beautiful worksheets in this site, I feel guilty for not being so exhaustive in my own. And yet, teaching young kids mainly, I know that I mustn �t overload them with too many words or pictures. I do a lot of "cleaning up" too and only make black and white photocopies, for the same reason as you, Edlerverein - no money in French schools either! Besides I don �t think that it is essential for young pupils to know a lot of vocabulary. For me, what is more important is for them to be able to use the few words they know in the proper way. What �s the use of teaching them the difference between "ball-point" and "fountain pen" if they can �t make a proper sentence like "I �ve got a pen"?
Also I really think it �s more useful to teach them how to cope when they don �t know a certain word - and not simply because I easily get fed up when I have ten kids in a row asking me "what �s this or that in English?", to which I answer with the usual "Find another way to say it. I �m not a walking dictionary!" After all, when they go to an English speaking country, they won �t always have a dictionary with them and they �ll really have to cope! 

15 Aug 2009     


I don �t think there is ANY reason to be guilty for not putting hundreds of pictures on worksheets, discretissime.

I �ve been thinking about this ever since nicadixon brought the topic up earlier today. What I don �t like about MANY worksheets here is that they are half picture-half "work".
For one, it �s very simple to just match a picture and a sentence, and you can do hundreds of these worksheets without ever producing a sentence yourself and proving you can USE this language you are learning.

The fact that most sentences are out of context, just single unrelated sentences, makes it impossible to talk about a subject the exercise is based on once the exercise has been finished. (*)

But what I find worse is that "it �s all there". Everything is in those worksheets. They can be done half-asleep. Students have got the sentences, the words, the pictures - and all they have to do is match them up. There is only ONE correct solution. Often there isn �t even an "odd one out" or something crazy that makes students laugh and think. Wehn you �ve seen one or two of them you �ve seen them all. This type of ws leaves no room for imagination, for original ideas, for divergent thinking (thank you for bringing THAT up, Harim, it is SO important for creativity).

Often it �s pure drill.
I can understand a teacher �s pleasure in identical, uniform layouts. It looks neat, you know what to expect, it looks perfect. But where is the element of surprise for our pupils, the unexpected element, the thing that makes them frown, smile, wonder, that sets their ideas free or at least entices them to produce something similar or related along the same lines as the given exercise? The element that breaks up their routine because it gives a little shock to their grey cells?

Don �t get me wrong. I use these drill exercises too. Occasionally. But it �s a bit sad that "different" exercises and activities get so few points here.
(*) If an exercise consisted of sentences having to do with let´s say a bank robbery you could do the exercise, benefit from the grammar drill, but then you could let your kids continue the story,  desribe the location and the action, imagine what happened to the bank robber, imagine lots of things having to do with it etc.

15 Aug 2009     


wow.. I had fun reading you all. I �m new in here. I agree with Nikadixon about the black and white wss. From now on I �ll send black and white copies. If anybody is interested in prinitng it in colours, I �m sure they know how to go about it.

16 Aug 2009     

South Africa

Whew! I �m not the only �weird one �. Yes, I chuckled at that too. I also remove hundreds of pictures, backgrounds (those backgrounds eat printer ink for breakfast) and all the frills, which usually have nothing to do with the lesson.

I downloaded a great worksheet on regular and irregular plural nouns. One problem. The entire worksheet is filled with pink and cutesy colours and graphics... little girls in curls with flowers and teddy bears. I teach a range from children to teens (mixed classes of boys and girls) and adult professionals. I can just see how the pink and cutesy will go over with them, so I spend time cleaning it up. The pictures also have nothing to do with the exercise.

I have noticed that the image-heavy and �cute � worksheets get far more downloads and positive comments, while worksheets with excellent material, though with less images and possibly in b&w often get overlooked. For myself, I check content value before downloading now.

16 Aug 2009