Advantages of Using Visuals (images)
‘The way we learn, and subsequently remember, bears a strong relationship to the way our senses operate. This means that we, as educators, cannot afford to ignore the fact that a very high proportion of all sensory learning is visual’ (Avgerinou & Ericson, 1997: p. 287). A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can also hinder language learning. The result of looking at an image may differ from one person to another, because it depends on the perspective from which you look – your own perspective. All students look at images from different perspectives, and that is probably why perception affects learning. Previous studies have shown that there is a relationship between images and the acquisition of a foreign or second language. This is an important area of investigation for researchers and ESL/EFL teachers, so that they can study how images can be used as effective materials in the foreign or second language-learning field. Teachers should be able to identify the needs of their learners and the purpose behind using images in the classroom. They should choose images cautiously, as these are used to reflect a lesson’s complexity.
‘Input in various modalities is now being used in language teaching because multiple modalities are believed to improve language acquisition’ (Sydorenko, 2010: p. 50). The increased use of multimedia materials in language learning has led to teachers and educators expressing an interest in modality of input. This is in addition to the use of multimedia that allows learners to have exposure to the target culture, through authentic input, and motivates them by using a different learning style. Images are one example of using multimedia as an input for vocabulary learning.
– Advantages of using images
Images can facilitate learning, as they can be more detailed, and can help students to predict information. Also, learners can try to analyse images, and a meaningful discussion can be created in the classroom as the learners express their ideas and opinions about the images. This is a way in which teachers can elicit information from students. The combination of images and text may encourage students to participate, and help them in the process of learning a foreign or second language. For example, Bookr offers this kind of combination.
Bookr is a great new tool for using images in classrooms, with text or without. It is a tool for creating online books using Flickr pictures, and that explains the name itself: Book and ‘r’. Bookr is an interesting web application, especially for Flickr users. The application was developed and created by the Pimpampum team, http://www.pimpampum.net. You can create your own virtual book from Flickr images in the Creative Commons content or from your own Flickr images, by using the search engine and tags. It is free for anybody to use, and there is no need to sign up to the website. In the next post I will talk about my personal experience with Bookr.
Avgerinou, M., & Ericson, J. (1997): ‘A review of the concept of Visual Literacy’. British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 28, (4): 280-291.
Sydorenko, T. (2012) Modality of input and vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning and Technology 14. 2:50-73.