C H A P T E R F O U R
SPECIAL USES OF VISUAL
Chapters 2 and 3 have emphasized the value of visual aids in teaching vocabulary (especially in beginners’ classes). Successful language learning outside the school is generally in a situation where the learner can see what is named by the word to be learned. Whenever possible, that condition of successful vocabulary learning should be provided in second – language classrooms.
We have noted that visual aids are available in many forms. We have considered several that require little or no time or expense to prepare. When students see actions performed by a class – mate or two in response to the teacher’s instructions that is a kind of visual aid. When we point to parts of the classroom, or bring into the classroom readily accessible objects – boxes, bottles, can openers, scissors, light bulbs, candles, tools, or small toys – we are using visual aids. (The sense of touch can be added to the sense of sight, in order to strengthen the association between the object and the English word, when various students touch and hold the objects being named.) This chapter will suggest additional ways to prepare and use various kinds of aids to encourage vocabulary learning.
PREPARING AND USING PICTURES
Pictures for vocabulary teaching come from many sources. In addition to those drawn by the students (or by the teacher) there are attractive sets which are intended for schools. Pictures which have been cut out of magazines and newspapers are also useful; many inexpensive books for children have attractive pictures which show meanings of basic words.
Often a picture will show a situation or a scene in which there are several different things and persons. It is good for students to see the total scene or picture – to see how its parts are related to the whole. It is also helpful (especially for beginners in English) to see a picture of a single object or person as the only focus of attention.
Suppose, for example, we have a picture of each of the following: a church, a taxi, a bus, a traffic light, a policeman, a mail-box. Suppose each of the pictures is large enough to be seen by all in the class. The students have seen and heard the English word for each one, and have copied the word into their notebooks. Our aim now is to help the students master the vocabulary, so we want to encourage the use of each word for communication. We consider possible techniques for making students feel it is important to know the English word. Here is one way:
1. The teacher arranges the picture along the ledge of the blackboard, saying something like this: “We‘ll put the taxi here. That’s the first picture. Then the bus … then the traffic light … then the church … then the policeman … then the mailbox.”
2. The teacher asks a member of the class (We’ll call him Lee) to come to the blackboard.
Teacher: Lee is going to move one of the picture for us. We’re going to tell him which picture to move. Lee, please move the policeman. Put the policeman first. (Lee moves the picture of the policeman, placing it first in the row on the ledge of the blackboard.)
Teacher: Put the taxi first. (Lee does so.)
3. The teacher indicates that various members of the class should request Lee to make other changes in the order of the pictures – using English, of course. For example:
A STUDENT: Move the church.Put the church first. (Lee does so.)
A STUDENT: Move the mailbox, etc.
If the class has begun to learn the ordinal numerals (first, second, third, etc.) these may be reviewed in connection with this activity. After each rearrangement of the pictures, the teacher (and then various students) say: “Now the ___ is first; the ___ is second; the ___ is third.”
In the activity which has just been described, students use English words while talking about changes in location of pictures and changes in relationships. To take such changes quickly and easily, we need pictures that can be moved and rearranged without taking time to pin them or tape them to the wall. The pictures can be arranged on the ledge of the blackboard, as suggested; but there is another very easy way of arranging them for temporary display. It requires only the following:
● about three yards of cotton flannel ( also called outing flannel) – cloth with a matted, fluffed surface. (Flannel is used for infant care, so it is found wherever cloth is sold.)
● Scissors and paste or glue
Cut this large piece of flannel into two equal parts. One half will be used as background against which pictures will be displayed. Tape that half to the wall near the blackboard, where it can remain permanently and be seen by all members of the class. (If you wish, the edges of the cloth may be hemmed to make a neater appearance. Tan or grey flannel has the advantage of looking clean longer, but ordinary white outing flannel serves just as well. The important requirement is the matted, fluffed surface, which all cotton flannel has.)
Using the other half of the cloth, cut out small pieces of it and glue or paste them to the backs of pictures. Use only a little glue or paste, and small pieces of cloth. A scrap of flannel that is about one – fourth as large as the picture should be enough.
When a small scrap of flannel has been attached to the back of a picture, it will hold the picture against the flannel back – ground. You will not need tape, tacks, or pins. Flannel sticks to flannel, so the pictures will not fall off the flannel background. They will remain in place for several minutes.
The flannelgraph (as this simple device is sometimes called) provides a convenient means of encouraging students to use new vocabulary, while also reviewing grammar. Prepositions like near, beside, and between are easily reviewed when we arrange and rearrange pictures with the flannel graph, as are verb changes like is/was and are/were. For instance, the students can be led to talk about the pictures in this way:
● There are three things between the mailbox and the traffic light now.
● there was a bus near the church, but there is a taxi near the church now.
It takes very little time (or money to produce a flannel graph. Often students enjoy helping with the cutting and pasting of the flannel pieces;and that experience itself can result in language learning when the teacher talks to the helpers in English about what is happening. (“That piece of flannel is big enough.” “Don’t use too much glue.” “Now let’s cut some pieces of flannel to put behind this picture.”) Such an experience does much to teach vocabulary.
Long – term Displays of Pictures
Flannelgraphs are extremely useful for temporary arrangements of pictures,but something else is needed for permanent or long-term displays. When the class meets regularly in the same room, much of the wall space ought to be used for pictures that show meanings of important words. There should be a set of pictures illustrating family groups,another set showing animals,others showing buildings of various kinds. In order displays there should be pictures of furniture,means of transportation,workers in various occupations,shapes (triangles, rectangles, circles, squares).
Not all of these can or should be shown at the same time. Each should remain on the walls long enough to be noticed and to become familiar to members of the class.
There are several ways to encourage students to notice the wall displays:
1. Certain students can be asked to help in preparing the display,deciding which words should be printed below the pictures,and then printing the captions.
2. Frequently the class can be given such assignments as the following:
● Look at the pictures on the back wall and find five red things those pictures. Write the English names for those red things.
● In the pictures on the walls, find five things with wheels. Write the English names for those five things.
● In the pictures on the walls, find five ten things that belong to a house. Write their English names.
● Look at the picture that is near the back window. There are many people in the picture. Which of the following would be the best title for the picture? (Explain why.)
Visiting the Zoo
Learning to Ride a Bicycle
Waiting for a Bus
VISUAL AIDS FOR TEACHING VERBS
Demonstrating an action is the best way of teaching meanings of many verbs. To teach the word walk, for instance, we start walking toward another part of the classroom. When it appears that the students are paying attention (and wondering about the purpose of our action), we say, while continuing to walk, “I’m walking … walking. What am I doing, class? Say, ’You’re walking.’ “
Notice what the teacher does NOT say while in the process of walking. The teacher does not say, “I walk.” At this stage in their learning,the students should not associate the one-word present tense form (walk) with an action that is occurring at the moment of speaking. When we draw their action to an action that is happening while we are speaking, it is more helpful to use the progressive verb form (with –ing after am, is, or are).
Actions like walking, standing, pointing and touching are easy to demonstrate in class. The meanings of other verbs can be shown through simple dramatic presentations. Even teachers with no dramatic ability can mine certain actions well enough to show the meanings of verbs like eat, drink, laugh, and smile.
Pictures are very useful for showing the meanings of verb phrases (is running, is jumping, are playing football, are walking in the park). Pictures do not offer the best way of introducing the single-word verb forms like jump, play, or walk. When native speakers describe what they see in the picture, they are more likely to say “The boy is walking” than “The boy walks.”
To introduce the meaning of verb, it is easy and helpful to use commands. Meanings of more than 100 essential verbs can be introduced through commands. Students can learn several of them when the entire class responds to the following series:
Raise your hands.
Touch your shoulders.
Clap your hands.
The teacher gives us each command to one or two leaders – speaking quietly and using their language if necessary. The command is then spoken more loudly by the teacher, in English, and the students perform the action. After two or three repetitions of the series, there is usually at least one member of the class who is ready to give the same commands – in English – to his classmates.
A VISUAL AID FOR TEACHING ADVERBS
Many adverbs are best taught in the grammar lesson, not the vocabulary lesson. Words like now, then, and already are usually taught while students are learning distinctions between present tense and past tense, or between past and present perfect. Words like always, never, often, and seldom are adverbs that are generally taught in relation to grammar, as they show the frequency with which an action occurs.
There are, however, many adverbs that can easily be taught in the vocabulary class when we use a visual aid: a demonstration of an action.
Suppose,for instance, that the students have learned to respond to a command like “Walk to the door.” We now add an -ly adverb: “Walk to the door slowly.” A little later, quickly can be introduced. (To avoid confusion, it is wise not to teach words with opposite meanings, like slowly and quickly, at the same time.) There is special advantage to be gained by delaying the introduction of quickly until the students have mastered slowly. The advantage is that the students then feel a real need to learn the word quickly. They have wanted such a word, and now the word is provided. This is the ideal condition for vocabulary learning.
Using Student Helpers
In situations where mimed actions by teachers are not considered proper, a student may be selected to serve as a helper. In most classes there are students who are natural actors. They enjoy performing certain imaginary actions for classmates. The teacher asks one such student (first in his own language, if necessary, then immediately in English) to pretend to eat, drink, smile, laugh, wave, swim, sleep, brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your face, fly like a bird, drive a car. (These are just a few possibilities for miming actions to show meanings.)
When a student is asked to mime three or four such actions during a lesson, his classmates may soon wish to join in the actions. (English words for the actions should always be used in the commands.)
Later, when the students have learned to use the progressive verb forms (with –ing and am, is, or are) the class will be ready for the following experience in communication:
Selected students come to the front of the classroom.Each drawas a slip of paper. On each slip there is a command which requires miming an action (a command which the class has heard and responded to before).The commands may include “Climb a ladder,” “Comb your hair,” “Telephone somone,” etc.
Each student looks at the slip which he has received,then performs the requested action.While he has miming the action,his classmates try to guess what he is pretending to do. (“Are you dancing,” “Are you opening a door,” “Are you climbing a ladder,”) The guesses of course, must be expressed in English.
Many teachers have used this technique successfully. (That is equally true of the other techniques that are described in this book.) As we know, however, different situations have different requirements. Learners are not the same everywhere; nneitherare teachers.Some teachers feel uncomfortable about using certain techniques that other teachers find easy and helpful.
If a reader thinks, “I could never do that in my class”, there may indeed be reasons why the suggested activity would not be suitable. In that case, it will be important to understand the purpose of the activity, and then to think “What could be done done to reach that goal?”
Suppose, for example, English is being taught where neither the teacher nor any student is able or willing to mime actions like swimming, flying, or driving a car.It is still possible to have certain students perform actions like the following, for demonstrations of verb meanings:
Walk to the blackboard.
Take a piece of chalk.
Draw a large circle.
Divide it into two parts.
Write the first letter of the alphabet below the circle.
Return to your seat.
Many of these commands are not very different from the directions which language teachers regular give their students during class periods. Students frequently receive and obey the following requests, among others:
Please sit down. Write your name.
Open your books. Listen.
Turn to page ___. Answer.
Copy these words. Repeat.
Read aloud. Try again.
Begin. Share your book with ___.
Stop. Pass your papers
Wait. to the front of the room.
Even in beginners’ classes, such everyday routine commands should always be given in English after the first few days. There is no good reason for giving routine commands in the students’ language after the meanings have have been made clear. To do so is to waste valuable chances for helping students learn.
In Chapters 2, 3, and 4 we have considered ways of teaching the kinds of vocabulary that should be learned during the first stage of English instruction. Various techniques have been described in relation to these points:
We have mentioned several ways to show the meaning of an English word, through such aids as the following:
We have mentioned several ways to show the meaning of an English word, through such aids as the following:
In connection with various techniques and materials, we have noted the value of using students as helpers – to drow pictures, to prepare displays for the classroom walls, to mime actions (performing imagined acts like telephoning, brushing teeth, driving a car).
In these chapters, the emphasis has been on experiences which require students to use English words for communication. In some of the suggested activities, the new words are used for making something happen. (An action is performed, or a picture is drawn, according to directions that are given in English.) In order activities, English is used for giving and receiving information. For instance, students find out, by using English, what a classmate is doing or they guess which pictures a classmate has drawn.
The instructional value of such activities is this: when someone has to accomplish something which can done only by using certain words, those words will be learned.
The next chapter will consider techniques for teaching students at the Intermediate level of English. At that level, students continue to need some of the same kinds of experience which are needed by beginners. However, there are some new needs, too. Furthermore, and techniques for Intermediate classes can make use of the vocabulary which has already been taught in the lessons of Stage I.
1. From a magazine or an inexpensive book for children, obtain five pictures that show meanings of words which first- year students of English should learn (words like house, car, tree…). Each picture should be large enough to be seen by all members of your class. Attach each picture to a piece of cardboard or stiff paper. Describe an exercise (similar to the one on page 34) in which the five pictures are arranged and rearranged on the ledge of the blackboard (or taped to the board).
2. Make a flannel graph, following the directions on page 35. Prepare five pictures for use with the flannel graph. (Each picture should show just one object or person.) Explain how you could use the pictures and the flannel graph for teaching certain nouns, adjectives, and prepositions.
3. Collect several pictures that could be displayed on your classroom walls, and group them to show kinds of animals, kinds of vehicles, furniture, buildings, and workers in various occupations. Put each group into a separate folder or large envelope.
4. Write three assignments (similar to those described on page 37) which would encourage students to look carefully at certain pictures which you collected for Activity 3 (above).
5. Write a description of a lesson in which meanings of the following are taught:
● Write your name.
● Walk slowly to the back of the room.
● Telephone a friend.
6. Suggest three ways in which students can serve as helpers in the classroom, and explain how the helpers could learn vocabulary from those experiences.
7. List ten directions or instructions (such as “Open your books“) which students in your class should hear – in English – during every lesson.