Posted 9/11/07
I never had a class that didn’t ask if I wear a kilt when I am in my country. I wonder if Mexican teachers working away from home get asked the same thing about sombreros. This is a silly game that I remember from my childhood. I really hope my Mexican friends forgive me for taking advantage of their national dress stereotype in the name of grammar teaching.
  • Language level: Beginner (A1)
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Activity: Grammar drill
  • Topic: Stereotypes
  • Language: Noun phrases (with the –ing form of the verb)
  • Materials: None
Mexican doodles pdf [downloaded 3382 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Language introduction: One by one, draw the following 8 pictures on the board and in each case, ask: What’s this?
  2. Tell students the answers as you go along and drill pronunciation of all the structures. Answers:

    a. A Mexican frying an egg
    b. A Mexican riding a bike
    c. A Mexican playing the trumpet
    d. A giraffe walking past a window (it’s the Mexican’s day off)
    e. A Mexican visiting Egypt
    f. A Mexican having a bath
    g. Two Mexicans kissing
    h. A koala climbing a tree (it’s the giraffe’s day off)

  3. Receptive stage: Clean the board. Tell students that you are going to find out if they can remember the pictures. Call out the 8 phrases in random order and ask students to draw the pictures on a single piece of paper or page in their note books.
  4. Productive stage (written): Now ask students to write the 8 phrases on a separate page or piece of paper (They may want to help each other for this). During this phase, you can circulate and make sure that students have written the language correctly.
  5. Productive stage (spoken): Pair up students and ask them to test each other’s memory of the language. Students take it in turn to point to pictures and ask partners: What’s this? Partners should recall the phrases accurately.
Note that despite the importance of noun phrases in language, traditional learner grammars sometimes
forget about them (sentences, on the other hand, are never forgotten). Don’t be shy about showing your students the difference.

  • A Mexican frying an egg (noun phrase)
  • A Mexican is frying an egg (sentence)

Follow ups

  • Ask students if they can invent their own similar pictures. Perhaps they already know some. Be careful, I have seen some rude ones.
  • Use this activity to introduce the topic of national stereotypes, especially those which involve clothes. In pairs or small groups, ask students to discuss and reach a conclusion on whether or not a seemingly harmless activity like this could, in fact, contribute to harmful generalisations about nationalities.
Posted 9/11/07

10 Responses to Mexican doodles

  1. Elborg says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I attended your talk on this year’s TESOL Convention in Madrid, where I found out about the wonderful things you do here in the internet. Thank you so much!
    I used your doodles (they brought back happy memories from my childhood – needless to say my children loved them, too!) with an upper-intermediate group, namely as a fun lead-in to a section of HW Upper-Intermediate: Making descriptions longer. I told my students we would do something visual first, then do something similar with words: expand something small and basic (first the Mexican, then a short sentence). That way I caught their attention and motivated them for the written exercise. It was a productive and fun class – thank you once more!


  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Elborg
    Great to hear that it worked and how you adapted it. And interesting that you used it for Upper Int. Perhaps it is a language point that is missed out in the standard grammar syllabuses and need consolidation/consideration at later stages.
    Thanks for your comment
    Jamie :-)

  3. Roger Chrisman says:

    Hi, I volunteer at a wiki called where a recently joined member has uploaded a copy of your image depicting eight visual puzzles of a Mexcan doing a-h things (see I am pleased to have this lesson idea on Teflpedia. However, we can only have material on Teflpedia that is original work by the contributors, or that we have copyright permission for from the copyright holder. The specific permission we would need from the copyright holder (I think that is you, yes?) is permission to release your image of a Mexican doing a-h things under the Creative Commons By-Attribution Share-Alike license ( This would allow us and others to use, publish and or make derivative work from the image, provide they/we (a) attribute your work to you and (b) share whatever they/we make of it also under this same license. This license was designed to empower us all to collaborate with each other and share our work. Would you be interested in sharing your “Mexican doing a-h things” (do you have a title for it?) drawing with Teflpedia and releasing it under the Creative Commons Share Alike license? If not, please reply and I will see that the image is removed from Teflpedia. I yes, please also reply and I will help you do this. Thanks for putting your image on the Internet and for helping me figure out what to do about this copy of it at Teflpedia! Roger

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Absolutely no problem Roger. The drawings are mine and the site has a CC license in any case (see bottom right hand corner).
    Looks like you are doing some good work.
    I’ll be visiting your site and following the project.
    Jamie :)

  5. Bob Mudford says:

    Thanks Jamie. Teflpedia has linked back to you with an acknowledgement. Cheers. Bob.

  6. Roger Chrisman says:

    Jamie, If only you had licensed your site CC BY or CC BY-SA instead of CC BY-NC-SA our site licenses would have been compatible. If you decide to license your site CC BY or CC BY-SA I will be thrilled. Please let me know if you do. Lessonstream is a nice looking site. Keep up the good work! Cheers, Roger

  7. I like your approach – very innovative.
    I’ve been teaching english in France for 30 years.My frustration with the available material led me to create my own method which uses rock, reggae and funk to teach the basics. All songs are my compositions – one song for each grammatical point – recorded with professional musicians. It can be adapted for any language and the material is free. Please check it out !

  8. Georgina Zárate says:

    Hahaha I liked your idea. You remembered me my childhood. I will use them in class. Probably they will know them,but we will have fun. Thanks from Mexico. Georgina.

  9. Lorraine says:

    Thanks for the pictures. I used them as a starter for a maths lesson on plans and elevations. The pupils enjoyed the challenge and it was a fun introduction.

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Very happy to help Lorraine – I’m glad your students enjoyed the Mexican challenge! Thanks for your comment
    Jamie :)