Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

See It + Say/Hear It = Recall It (Ideas to Add Visuals To Aid Learning)


Beautiful EyesLanguage Sensei is easing back into a ‘new year’. It was great to take time off in July and I trust that the time away will bring new ‘inspiration’ for the upcoming semester. I was reminded today about a key lesson that I learned last year when I saw a tweet from Laura Sexton (@sraspanglish) regarding oral recall. After 72 hours students who only ‘heard’ language had 10% recall, but that zoomed to 65% if the language was accompanied by visuals.

This is a huge lesson that I learned last school year – one that I intend to make more use of in September. I thought that I’d pull together several of my past posts on using visuals in the foreign language classroom (and ease my way into a new year of blog posts as well!!).

Teacher Generated Visuals

Visual Cues/Visual Learning – When I committed to more authentic language learning this year I needed lots of visuals to spark speaking – especially as my students were learning characters and not writing at all at the time. What I didn’t know is how much it would aid students in recalling what/how to say something….and furthered my commitment to find visuals for every unit I teach.

10 Minutes to Make/The Unit Slideshow – Okay so I use a lot of clip art for my visual cues. It’s easy to find, designed to be printed in black and white and more clear to the kids in the rear of the room. But a post on The Creative Language Class challenged me to find more visuals that reflected my target language country (Japan).  And so I began to create the unit slideshow…and will be doing one for each unit to come!

A Picture for 1000 Words – Not a slide show to loop or go through that is thematic, or clip art. This is a collection of ‘people’ that I can use to spark questions and encourage recall. It contains celebrities, famous people from my country as well as my Target Language country and even the school principal. I use it in a variety of ways…and it always invites opinions from my students!

Student Generated Visuals

The Quick Sketch and Share –  This was my first foray into student-generated visuals. I should point out that we are not a 1:1 school, nor is our wireless access great. What is good about this is that my students can participate regardless of their technical skills, or computer knowledge. I try not to over-use this but it is a great way to spark interpersonal conversation!

The Self-Created Story Game Riff – Oh I learn so much from the Twitter PLN! This was sparked by a post from Martina Bex (@martinabex) based on Bryan Kandel’s post she’d read! It is a great way to reinforce vocabulary, teamwork and questioning skills! My students loved making up the stories, working with their partner on goofy details and asking questions to pull more information out of groups they were listening to.

There are so many ways to use visuals to aid learning – what’s a favourite of yours?


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