Optical illusions. Open your eyes and see?

Problem-solving activities and games always work incredibly well in class. Students concentrate on finding a solution, so it is not only a purely linguistic outcome what is expected. I know there is nothing new about using games in the EFL classroom, after all, they are one of the traditional activities of a communicative language teaching environment. But with the interactive whiteboard we can expand the way we traditionally “play” in class. And I like that.

I love optical illusions and mind tricks, so whenever I have the occasion I will inevitably bring them to the classroom.

There are many websites that display scores of optical illusions to use. I often choose a few and ask the groups to work out what is going on. They usually turn out to be very engaging activities because students really need to struggle and challenge their senses to find out the answers.

I recently tried other alternatives to the traditional optical illusions. I bring to class examples of street art like the spectacular works by Jamie Harkins, or Pejac, who create 3D images on streets and walls and make the fine line between real life and fantasy really difficult to make out.

I show their works on the IWB and use tools for zooming or hiding certain areas of the artwork  to get the students predict what the “big picture” will be.

I recommend having a classroom pinterest account for pinning these artworks and optical illusions -the same account can be used for infographics, too.

Lots of fun and laughter guaranteed. The whiteboard offers many possibilities because it can easily break down the limits of space and promote trying alternative ways of playing and managing groups. If you ever try, please let me know how it worked.

2 thoughts on “Optical illusions. Open your eyes and see?

  1. In my experience, as a student, it definitely works. I attended some of these Anabel`s classes and I could realize how not talkactive students took part in the class and shared their opinions about what was going on on a particular image or picture. The main problem we have as Spanish speakers, trying to improve our English, is our concern about making mistakes so we get stuck. Using these tools (games, and so on), a more comfortable and confident atmosphere is created so students are in a better mood for saying something. It is quite common for me to speak even if I don`t have a strong opinion about something. I apologize for some nonsenses I had said but, in my humble opinion, if I want my English to be improved, what I need is practice. Thank you.


  2. Thanks for your comment, Carmen. It really helps to have a student’s point of view. I’m aware of what you what you say about the fear of making mistakes. It is quite common, indeed. But it is nice to know that the atmosphere in class was right to “get in the mood”, as you say. Nonsense? What nonsense?
    Thanks again.


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