How visual aids can help when teaching a foreign language.
1 Visual aids provide a practical solution for teachers whose equipment can consist of nothing more than a few books and a classroom. They include black-boards, laptops, charts and posters, pictures, magazines, flash-cards and actual objects or ‘realia’. These teaching aids, and the ways in which they help the teacher are discussed below.
In schools throughout the world, this piece of equipment is the chief mainstay for the language teacher. It is essential that it is used properly. Teachers use the board to clarify certain points, and to test pupils understanding of a lesson. They must thoroughly consider what is written on it, as this information will be implanted in their students’ minds. Do:
- Write as quickly and clearly as you can and always prepare the text beforehand. - Stand sideways and maintain eye contact making sure you are not obstructing the students’ sight of the board. - When writing have them repeat key words and phrases at each pause. - Underline important features or use different coloured chalk/pens. Don’t:
- Spend a long time at the board (this can lead to restlessness and boredom amongst learners). - Write with your back to the class (pupils will chat with each other). - Forget to constantly interact with your students.
Drawings should also be used whenever possible, in presenting language items, illustrating stories, explaining vocabularies and acting as cues for language practice. You don’t need to be a great artist to draw on the board since the drawings are best kept simple, showing only important details. Stick people, simple objects and faces with different expressions can become part of your repertoire.
Today’s laptop computers are relatively cheap, sturdy, are multi functional and have the capability for enormous storage capacity. This tool is considered as useful if not more so than any other piece of equipment available to the modern teacher. A laptop can be used as a substitute for a blackboard or whiteboard, (assuming the classroom has a screen with a projector or a T.V that can be connected with it). There is no need to turn your back on the class, and teaching material can be prepared in advance, which saves time and helps you to be better organized. Lessons can be colourful and exciting. Reference sheets, pictures, audio, diagrams, movies etc., are all easily accessible and can be used time and again, in different classrooms, at no extra cost. Their size and weight make them an ideal tool for the busy teacher.
Magazines have many different types of images to make into flashcards and small cards; they are full of advertisements which can be used in contrast with each other. Examples could be: an assortment of advertisements for holiday destinations, highlighting different cultures and weather patterns, or; two photographs of capital cities, each with contrasting lifestyles.
2 Inexpensive cards can be made by using some form of hardboard and by adding colour pictures either downloaded from the internet or bought at a local shop. The chalk tray of a blackboard is an adequate holder to keep the cards within easy reach. We can use them with whole classes or groups, or even with single students. They may display pictures, bits of language or a combination of both. The lettering should be large enough to be seen from the back of a classroom. When teaching a foreign language, teachers can try using pink for feminine nouns and blue for masculine, or they could use two different colours to show adjectives and verbs. This works especially well for visual learners. Here are some ideas on how to use flashcards:
- Get students in pairs to guess the words or phrases that the pictures represent. - Make a team game. Partially cover each picture and challenge teams to guess the word. Further points can be added or gained by making...
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