After “unpacking” the introduction of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I needed to find the right approach to make the book easily readable to students. I didn’t want it to become a boring reading lesson, so I thought about a visual approach to literature.
I believe there is a strong connection between the use of visuals and language learning. It is also true that everybody, from children to adults, can see the world in a different way. It means that perception plays a key role in learning.
Some students have a strong ability to recognize a structure or a situation from a picture, others need time to understand the input. In any case the advantages of using visuals in the language teenage classroom are many:
- Skills – Visuals help students to predict, infer, deduce and analyze a text.
- Production – they serve as stimulus for language production (speaking or writing)
- Testing – Visuals can be used for examination purposes: checking of understanding, mapping what has been read, organize a text visually. Remember and reinforce vocabulary.
- Follow up – Pictures can be developed into a text and a text can be developed into illustrations or graphic visuals.
The approach I took to analyze the book goes in three different directions. I used pictures and illustrations to:
- Predict the story, elicit vocabulary – Students work on pictures, no text provided.
- Support the text – Students read the text and have some pictures and illustrations to support understanding, they infer the meaning.
- Check understanding – follow up activities. Only text provided to students, they draw a picture or a graphic to reproduce the text.
Chapter 1 – Lucy looks into the wardrobe
Chapter 2 – What Lucy found there
Step 1 – I provided students with a set of random pictures that could help them to predict as much information as they can on the setting, the time, the main characters of the story. This could be done as GW (group work) or PW (pair work).
At the end of the activity they filled a table with key information and vocabulary. Then we listened and read part of the chapter.
Step 2 – We read the second part of the chapter, a second set of pictures was provided to students. They had to put them in the correct order, only after reading.
Step 3 – Chapter 2. Once setting, time and characters were clear, I moved to the next chapter. This time we read the text with no visual support, only at the end students were asked to draw a storyboard or a mind map of the chapter.
Follow up – As a follow up activity they had to retell the story supported by the visuals provided. They could record it, or create a video story.
There are a series of free web tools that can help and support the activities described above
- For the pictures – (I used creative commons)
Photoree (search pictures by license)
#Eltpics on Flickr
- For storyboards, mind maps, info-graphics
Animoto – Create video stories
Glogster EDU – Create your glogster with video, images, text, music etc.
Bubbl – brainstorm and mind map online
Piktochart – nice app for info-graphics
- Audio tools for speaking activities
Vocaroo – simple audio recorder, can email, download or embed the file.
Voicethread – create a slideshow with audio comments.
Very interesting article on the role of visuals in language learning.