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Picture Stories for Adult ESL Health Literacy: A Doctor's Appointment

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

More Ways

Computer and LCD projector, or overhead projector, or document camera

Activity Description

Use these Language Experience Approach stories and images to address topics that affect the health and well-being of students. They are great for lowest levels in ESL. Stories include the following:

  • Picture Story 1: Emergency
  • Picture Story 2: A Doctor's Appointment
  • Picture Story 3: Stressed Out!
  • Picture Story 4: What Should She Do?
  • Picture Story 5: Depressed
  • Picture Story 6: The Right Dose
  • Picture Story 7: What Happened to My Body?
  • Picture Story 8: Snack Attack


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school if you plan to use it with students.
  2. Prepare the visual/image photo story photocopies.


  1. Choose a story from the Web site that fits with your content and course objectives.
  2. You can copy and paste the text into a word-processing program, reformat as needed, print, and make photocopies, as desired.
  3. Select “View the picture story” to see the image. To print picture as a handout, use the PDF version of the file link. Photocopy it for distribution or projection (copied onto an overhead transparency for projecting from an OH projector, project from a document camera, or open the link in your Web browser if there is a computer in your classroom with an LCD projector) in class
  4. (Instructions taken from the Web site):
    Use Language Experience Approach (LEA) to teach the stories. Suggested LEA procedure:
    1. The teacher can ask the students what is happening in each frame of the story. She can ask questions to elicit specific details or observations, and if students do not have a clear idea of what to say, various scenarios can be discussed until the class chooses one they like.
    2. Once the whole story has been elicited orally, the teacher tells the students that she will write it down as they retell it. While the students retell it, the teacher writes, trying to stay close to the students' own language. She can smooth it out for clarity's sake occasionally, but the story should be the students' product, based on their ideas.
    3. The teacher can ask questions again to make sure important information or vocabulary is included.
    4. After the story has been written, the class can practice reading it chorally and individually.
    5. Students can then copy it down (it is best to leave this step until the end; if students are writing as the teacher is eliciting the story, they do not participate in the creation of the story.).
    6. If reading is a skill focus of the class, various follow-up activities like sentence or word sequencing, or cloze activities can be done in a later class. If oral skill development is the focus, retelling without reading could be practiced.

Teacher Tips

  • The images are drawings. If you are a new teacher, practice the steps of the LEA.
  • The stories "Emergency," "A Doctor's Appointment," and "Stressed Out" are suitable for most classes, as the topics are common and uncontroversial. "What Should She Do?," however, should be used with discretion, as its topic of domestic violence may evoke strong reactions and discomfort, especially if a class member has experienced domestic violence personally or knows someone who has.
  • Contains online resources related to the topic of each picture story.

More Ways

The materials are adaptable for use at different levels.


  • Beginning Literacy
  • Beginning Low
  • Beginning High


Basic Communication

  • (3.6) Understand basic health and medical information
  • (3.5) Understand basic principles of health maintenance
  • (3.4) Understand basic safety measures and health risks
  • (3.1) Understand how to access and use the health care system
  • (3.3) Understand how to select and use medications

Basic Communication

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.