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Numer publikacji: 15477
Dział: Języki obce

Visual aids in the classroom situation

Visual aids in the classroom situation

Visual aids have a major role to play in a language classroom. They are a useful resource for teaching and enable the development of a wide range of skills. They are especially valuable in teaching young learners, as this group require as many prompts as possible. These could take the form of visual aids because there are many language learners who need to see the information discussed.
“(...) even young learners will work for a while without searching for something to listen to”. However if they “(...) are not supplied with something to look at that is relevant to the learning task in hand they will find and probably be distracted by something that is not”.
Children have a great need to be motivated by the teacher and the materials in order to learn effectively. Therefore, it is important for the teacher, dealing with young learners, to have a wide range of stimulating resources and they must include visuals.

I. Kinds of visuals

I.1 Flashcards (picture cards) are the most common kind of visual aids for young learners. They appear useful in for all language skills. Pictures are an invaluable way of introducing and revising vocabulary, drilling simple structures and functions. Visuals also help students relate words to images. They are valuable resource for teachers and parents and used as a linguistic or visual stimulus for learners to read, speak or write. What is more, illustrations that complement texts add extra information, which allows students to infer what does the author intend but not clearly state in them, or help to understand unknown vocabulary.
“Picture flash cards are pictures mounted or drawn on cards approximately 15 cm by 20 cm. They are normally used by the teacher in oral work for cueing responses to questions or more open communicative work for stimulating conversation, story-telling, etc.”
The size of flash cards, however, depends of the type of use. It means that for group work they can be smaller but when we stick them to the board or hold in our hands they must be big enough for students at the back to see. The more clearly visible, colourful and striking they are the better. It is also possible, however, to use black and white cards and ask students to colour them themselves.

Illustrations A and B

Pictures can represent peoples’ appearance, their behaviour, moods or actions and the setting of the situation to promote discussion and motivate learning. They could be pictures of animals, food, household objects, places or story characters. The most valuable in pictures is that they bring real objects to the classroom (such as a car or a bicycle).

Illustration C Illustration D Illustration E

Illustration F Illustrations G, H

I.2 Word cards (word flash cards) have a single word or phrase written clearly on the card. They can be the size of picture flashcards but they should not be less than eight centimetres in height so that even students at the back of the classroom are able to see them. The length of word cards depends on the text, however long ones are impractical as may cause some problems with storing them or carrying to the classroom. They are easy and inexpensive for teachers to prepare. All we need is cardboard (white or coloured) and markers. It is also possible, however, to make word cards on the computer, print them and stick to cardboard. The idea of using word processor is worth considering if we are afraid that our handwriting will not be legible.
Word cards are easy for the teacher or students to handle. We can hold them, prop, stick to the board or hang on a thread. In addition to that, they can be used separately or together with flashcards and in any stage of the lesson.
What is more, word cards apply to reading practice as well as to writing and listening practice. They are beneficial to introduction, practice and revision of vocabulary. The most important, however, is the fact that they facilitate grammar explanation. By the use of word cards, it is easier to teach construction of tenses (the rules of forming affirmative sentences, questions and negatives). We can also use coloured cardboard or markers to distinguishing parts of speech in a sentence, the word order or contractions of words.

do  not  don’t

Peter goes to work by bus.
stand up

I.3 Drawings are another type of visual aids. Sometimes it happens that we cannot find suitable pictures or we want to involve our students in preparation of visual materials. In that case, a teacher can draw on the board or ask students to make illustrations themselves (for example of workers). It should not be a problem because children in general love drawing and they will be willing to help.

For the education purpose, our drawings do not need to be perfect and we do not have to be very talented. The most important thing teachers have to remember while drawing on the board is that there should not be too many details in the picture. In fact, the more details we include the less visible it becomes. Our drawings should be simple and not sketchy. To achieve that we should use quite thick lines and the shape should be as suggestive of the object as possible. For further information on this matter, it is worth considering literature, which gives advice and teaches us techniques along with examples of line drawing. Thanks to such books, we can learn how to draw people or animals in a quick and easy way. Examples below are taken from such resource books for teachers.

Illustration 1 Wright A.; ”Pictures for Language Learning”, Cambridge University Press 1992, p.204

Illustration 2 Gerngross, G. and Puchta, H.; ”Pictures in Action”,

I.4 Workcards and worksheets are the type of visuals that we can treat with a wide range of techniques. They are appropriate for students at all levels. Even young students can be engaged in doing simple workcards containing illustrations or connected with tracing letters. Moreover, worksheets are useful for individual students’ work or for those working in pairs or small groups. Thanks to them students have the chance to perform more or less independently of the teacher. They can be successfully used to present information different from what regular lessons contain. In other words, they contribute to variety and interest in the classroom. In addition to that, they facilitate the development of all four language skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) with little teacher’s involvement.
If we want to assure students’ success in dealing with workcards and worksheets, we have to remember about two things:
“1. The students should understand what they have to do.
2. The language demands on the students should be within their capabilities.”

Illustration 3 Gray, Elizabeth; “Skill Builder” For Young Learners, Express Publishing, p.70-71

I.5 Class projects are probably the kind of activities children love most. They play a vast role in developing a sense of responsibility for gathering materials, preparation as well as the outcome. Another value of projects is that they cause students’ cooperation and give opportunity to practice spoken language (if we make sure they do not switch to their mother tongue). Class projects contribute to all four language skills: speaking, reading, writing and listening. They can be prepared in small groups or by the whole class. What is more, the topic of a project can regard either specific sets of vocabulary (names of animals) or deeper description of a particular problem (showing the live of one animal).

I.6 Wallpictures and wallposters are the biggest of visual aids, large enough to be seen by all the students. They are illustrations of situations, places, people or objects. Teachers can buy wallposters produced for language teaching purposes by publishing houses or get them free if they use coursebooks from those publishers. It is also possible to use wallposters designed for other educational purposes (for example road safety posters), or for commercial purposes not connected with education (cinema posters). Other option is that teachers can create wallpictures themselves or ask students to prepare them, either by drawing or making collages. While making wallposters we should remember, however, not to include too many details in them because it might distract from the main points. On the other hand, we can use the same wallpicture on many different occasions and in many different ways. They are excellent tools for controlled practice in listening, speaking and writing as they provide a context for language use. In addition to that, they serve as a rich source of vocabulary; encourage students to listen carefully in order to identify what the teacher refers to and offer considerable choice of what to talk about. Posters displayed in a language classroom can contribute to a feeling of the foreign culture and facilitate unconscious learning if only students would have a look at them from time to time.

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