As Foreign Language teachers we are continually focussing on teaching in ‘context’. It is the link between the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ that really helps to deepen both the learning (and the will to learn) within our students. One of the ways that I have started to experiment with setting context is through visuals – visuals from the target language country. It started, as many of my things do, with a one-off kind of thing – almost a fluke as it were. I was leading into seasonal activities – and wanted to incorporate both those that are popular here, and in Japan (my Target Language – TL). How was I to hook them – to set them up for what they were going to delve into? I have clip-art – lots of it – but I wanted more relevancy – more reality.
So I hit the search engine – and looked for images – images of Japanese people doing, experiencing some of the activities that I knew were going to come up from my students – and also things specific to Japan. I used ‘Google Images’ set my search to ‘free to reuse’. (I also use Creative Commons and Morguefile to find free to use images) Then I started typing in what I was looking for “Japan – hot springs” “Japan – snowboarding” “Japan – fireworks” and so on.
Quite quickly I had a set of 10-15 images that suited what I needed. I popped them into a ‘slideshow creator’ (I use Keynote) – no words – just images on a white background. Then I exported it as a Quicktime movie. I played around with how long the slides were shown for and found that a 3-3.5 second length was long enough to really see but short enough to move along quickly. And so my 3 minute Seasonal Activity Slideshow was made – in about 10 minutes.
I put the slideshow on ‘loop’ so that it played continuously as my students entered the room – and settled at their tables. They were intrigued by the images and it easily set the stage for our discussion. After some classwork on the vocabulary I ran it again – students were spontaneously calling out what the activities were in the target language. I ran it again – and they all told their partner if they ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ or ‘could do’ those activities.
Quick and easy to make – and a great (and easy) way to both set the stage for learning – and spark discussion. I’ll be gradually creating these for all of my classes – 10 minutes at a time!