The proverb goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and when it comes to English language learners, it’s definitely true.
In this article, we are going to go over some ways you can integrate visuals into your courses so that your students gain a better and faster understanding of the language.
The picture word inductive model (PWIM)
This model can work wonders for English language learners who are just beginners, and it goes like this:
• You present a picture to the students and ask them to come up with twenty words that are related to it.
• You have them put the words in categories and ask them to come up with new words to put in those categories.
• Have a fill-in-the-blank activity with sentences about the picture, and then ask them to organize those sentences into categories as well.
• Together with the class, turn the categories into paragraphs.
• Organize the paragraphs into an essay and choose a title.
This exercise is great because it takes advantage of visual clues in order to help English language learners better understand the meaning and broader aspect of words. The process is inductive, as the name suggests, instead of being deductive and giving students rules and guidelines.
This exercise is simple and can go 2 ways: You describe a picture to English Language learners and you have them draw something based on the thing you say, or you take the other approach and you show the picture to the students, and then have them describe it in writing.
Both methods are effective at helping children understand words and connect them to what they represent. Having them draw is also a good way of building a stronger relationship between you and them or among themselves.
Generate writing through visuals
This exercise is a combination of the two methods we have talked about up to this point. The goal here is to help students develop longer and more complex writing pieces.
Show your students an image, a video or even an object or person in real life. What’s important is that what you show them has enough details that essays can be written about it.
You tell your students to create a description of the subject. After they are done, have them write down as many questions as they can about the subject and its details.
You organize the questions into categories, just like with the PWIM method. You encourage the English language learners to add more questions and answer them together with the students. Then, you have them make essays that encompass all of those questions.
This will come easy to them because they have already understood all the information, so it’s only a matter of putting it together.
Practice speaking through visuals
Show your class something and give them a bit of time to prepare a short descriptive speech about what they saw. Their ideas and speech will have better flow thanks to the fact that images are much easier to describe than text.
A great idea would be to record the students speaking. After some time has passed, you repeat the exercise and compare the recording. It will be a clear indicator of their progress and it will motivate them to improve even further.
Why visuals are so good for teaching English language learners
The biggest advantage of incorporating these kinds of exercises into your classes is that they create a much stronger connection between words and real life objects in the minds of your students. It’s also a great launch pad for them to start writing longer pieces.
Another undeniable fact is that these exercises are much more fun for English language learners than dry tasks involving only text. Your students will be more willing to participate.
These are only a few exercises that use imagery, and there are many other tools that can help you enhance your lessons. For instance, there are certain workshops that can help you better your skills. After all, in order to teach others, you have to learn as well.
Be sure to also check out the rest of our blog if you are interested in finding out further info on how teachers can help ELLs improve their language skills.
In order to find out how you can better your teaching methods so that you can offer your students better education, contact us today and we’ll discuss the perfect kind of ELL professional development, teacher training, or ell consulting program for your school or district.