Using visuals to support Language learning
Louise Potter

Words are powerful! I believe we have all felt, at one time or another in our lives, the impact words have on our body and mind! The same goes for images, as they can convey very strong emotions. However, what I like most about images, is that they are straight to the point. Especially when used in a classroom.

Teachers "are able to reach people much faster, much more efficiently, much more effectively" when they punctuate what they say with images that immediately help students "get the point," Burmark stated. Our students must learn to process both words and pictures. They must be able to move gracefully and fluently between text and images."

Having said that, I regard imaging and using visuals in a classroom as an engaging and motivating way to get students talking and attempting to interpret an image or a photograph. Images have a greater potential in the classroom. Although they can connect students directly with the meaning of an object or color, they can also inspire students to be more critical, to make them analyse a situation, to debate about whether the image is demonstrating happiness or sadness or simply let them have a good laugh.

Our students live in the digital age. They are constantly bombarded by images by all their social medias. Presently, teachers are able to get the message over better to teenagers by using images than by simply using words. Some say we are hindering their development by stimulating them visually. I look at it as a way to connect to students and use all their potential in order for them to express themselves verbally. By using visuals (which does not only have to be images), and having students interpret images, they are using other parts of their brain which must also be stimulated.

As Burmark stated above, “students must be able to move gracefully and fluently between text and images."

Why can visuals help our students?

We know as a fact that most of our students are visual learners. Furthermore, visuals are not only related to pictures. We can use graphic organizers, flashcards, comic strips, charts, videos and so many other tools. Some of these tools help students clarify and structure their thoughts, connect, brainstorm and classify information (mind maps), link information to prior knowledge (K-W-L Charts), compare information, (Venn diagrams), and enhance their creativity and connect them to authentic material (comic strips).

To know more about how to use visuals in the classroom, click here and take our online course: Beyond the Course Book.

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