Draw what you see!  Say what you draw!

The Japanese art form, Hirameki, is basically looking at splodges of paint and drawing what you see.  It translates as ‘inspiration that comes to you in a flash’.  It’s a great activity to use in class to get students thinking, incorporate life skills and have a bit of fun with art – without any pressure to create any Van Gogh-esque masterpieces.


I often find that one of the life skills that students struggle with most is creativity. Exercises like ‘What happened next..?’ can lead to awkward silence, but not with Hirameki.  Once they get the concept, they’ll be on a roll with their critical thinking, self-expression, communication and peer feedback skills.


It’s great for teaching language like Wh- questions (e.g. What is it..?), phrases like ‘looks like’ (e.g. It looks like a dog.) and modals of deduction (it could be…, it might be…, it must be…).  I love using it with any level of class as it’s great for drawing (pun intended) out all sorts of weird and wonderful language.


The best bit is that is suitable for all levels! I recently used it with my ESOL Literacy class and found that it boosted their confidence, allowed them to practise their pen control skills and gave them the opportunity to support each other in finding the right words.  They talked excitedly about stingrays, seals, eagles and hot air balloons!  Most definitely not pre-A1 words but a refreshing break from survival English.


I’d love you to try this in class so you can use the images in this blog or create your own.  You can find lesson notes for this and many more activities and teaching tips in my 50 Ways to Teach Life Skills book which is available from just £1.99.

Please share your student’s creations with me on Twitter: @E_Bryson

You can find more information on drawing, speaking and life skills in ELT in my previous blog posts.

If you’d like to hear more about creative classroom activities. I’ll be delivering the following talks and webinars in the near future:

Visualising Life Skills: upskilling the classroom with simple graphics, EnglishUK Scotland, MacKenzie School of English, Edinburgh – Sat 29th February

Literally Speaking, IATEFL Webinar, Sat 7th March

Visualising Life Skills: upskilling the classroom with simple graphics, IATEFL, Manchester Central – Sat 18th April


2 thoughts on “Draw what you see!  Say what you draw!”

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