Making the most of the resources we have: Images in course books
Let’s start by looking at the materials we all have to hand – course books. They are filled with photos, cartoons, graphs and charts. But do we actually use them?
A study looking at the purpose of images in Business English books, revealed that 73% of the images in the texts were decorative and not linked to any task. (Romney, 2012)
All these great images being practically ignored! What a waste of a valuable resource!
To increase the use of images in our teaching, we should view every photo, drawing or map we come across as a STOP sign.
Stop and before beginning the reading activity or turning the page, ask yourself if there is a task you could add to make use of the image.
Imagine this is your new unit. What tasks could you do to make use of this image?
Here are some ideas:
-What is the longest word you can think of that is somehow connected to this picture?
-Create a list of words connected to the picture. As many as possible in 90 seconds. Try to come up with some words other students won’t think of. When finished, compare with your partner. Explain the connection if necessary.
-What do you think the article will be about?
-Image this picture is taken from a poster for a film. What could the story/plot of the film be?
-With your partner, predict three things that could be mentioned in the article/story.
Students use their phones to take a photo of something connected to the image. The link doesn’t have to be obvious. They must explain the connection to their group. The group votes on the best picture.
Study the picture for 60 seconds. Close the book and write 8 sentences about the image. Use a different verb in each sentence.
That reminds me of…
Think of an experience you have had that is linked to the picture (travelling on an old train, having an adventure with friends, skipping class, being reckless etc). Tell your partner about your experience. Write the story.
Look at the picture and think of some details to answer the following… Who Where When How Why What
Be inventive! Swap your notes with your partner. They can ask you three or four more questions about your notes. Write a story based on the picture and the notes you were given.
Hope these ideas help you get more mileage out of the images in your course books!
Sources: Romney, C. (2012). Images in ELT textbooks: Are they just decoration? In A. Stewart & N. Sonda (Eds.), JALT2011 Conference Proceedings. Tokyo: JALT.