Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

The Use of Pictures in Teaching English as a Foreign Language - Tips
By:Andrew Carter

They say that a picture paints a thousand words. We think of the value of the family album: there’s Martin aged about one, when we were living in Stanley; there’s Mum about a thousand years ago when we lived in Tewkesbury; and look, there we are on our wedding day! Get the picture (!)? One look and already thousands of words are flooding in – to do with feelings, outstanding questions, and colourful, happy (and sometimes not so happy) memories. Word to start to describe the weather, the food, the smells, the hotel, the receptionist, the guy dressed up as a chicken, what the car was like, how much the whole thing cost, and how you were arrested the very next day… I love looking through the albums – how else to remember how small my six foot six sons once were? How else to remember what I looked like 25, 30, 40 years ago?

Then there’s art: from Van Gogh and Rembrandt to Tracy Emin and Jackson Pollock – each with his or her own style, all communicating with the viewer: what does each say to you? Each certainly requires words to describe both the picture and how it makes you feel, that’s for sure! And advertising – so often using a single picture to sell thousands of pounds worth of goods or services: what are they trying to say, what does the picture say about seller and goods? There are some great ones that spring to mind: a hippo catching a stick, an elephant in a kennel or a group of bodies making up a word or picture. So how about this for a technique? Take someone with very little English, from a child to a top executive. They need the language, for study, for communicating with the world (English, I would suggest, is the global language for many industries in this 21st century globalised economy). Show them a picture, or get them to show you, the teacher, one of theirs - preferably something with plenty to say (a picture of their home, their passion, their family) – it’s like lighting the proverbial ‘blue touch paper’! They will have a mind flooded with those ‘thousand words’ highlighted above; they will NEED the words in English in order to talk to you, the teacher: and when someone NEEDS something, that’s when the real learning happens!

Andrew is a qualified TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher, with 15 years experience of the global Automotive Industry as a Sales manager with an International component and systems supplier. For more information about learning English with Andrew at his home in the UK, visit the Lets Talk 2 http://www.lets-talk2.com/ website.

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