Visual Literacy in Creating Classroom Materials - John Hughes

Still enjoying the sensation of IATEFL, I went on watching the sessions I missed during the conference online. It was a great pleasure to watch John Hughes’ session about Visual Literacy. He believes that teachers want ‘pictures’ to say something in the classroom. He also believes that the means of transforming pictures has developed a lot meangenerated.net

Teachers/we use images in the classroom for :
** Comprehension
** Critical Thinking
** Creativity

Thus ‘Visual Literacy’ is used to convey:
** Constructed Meaning
** Communicated Meaning
** Combined Meaning

A)                Constructed Meaning

        What does the image mean? The students use basic vocabulary to describe an image.
         Exercises such as ‘matching pictures with words’ can be used
         Pictures of actions can be used to practice Grammar rules.
         Lots of exercises can be found on this website         www.englishexercises.org/makegame/viewgame.asp?id=2431 

        The App called fotobabble.com can also be used where students can upload photos and record themselves talking about it and later on they can show it to their class.

       Hughes believes that ‘Dual Code Theory’ can be applied to using images with text as the brain works on two levels to understand: to look at the image, try to make out what it refers to and apply what the student reads to it to reach the required meaning. He believes there are many ways to combine both with the use of video.

B)                Communicated Meaning

           This deals mainly with Critical Thinking. Use the pictures to introduce ideas and urge the usage of Critical Thinking questions. Hughes suggested using a picture of a traffic jam, for example, and ask the students

n   to imagine they are either: a bike manufacturer, an environmental organizations, or a company specializing in nature holidays or a manufacturer of electric cars.
n   use the photo in an Advertisement and ask them to write a Slogan on it.
n  Make them think of the picture from different perspectives/ think about different perspectives
n  Encourage Ss to use an image on a Blog and write about it.

Such kind of activities encourage the development of HOT (High Order Thinking) Skills.

C)                Combined Meaning

           This is a mixture of the previous two steps in addition to integrating technology if possible.  He gave three examples of these:

1.                 In a book, there is a lesson about water with MCQ. Instead of just working out the article and the questions, ask the students to get out of class and take photos with their mobiles about anything related to water for about 10 minutes. Then come back to class and speak about it and their choice. This helps the Ss in developing the different meanings of things around them.

2.                 Choose photos, add them to fotobabble.com , as mentioned before and urge them to speak about them. Urge them to be creative.

3.                 He also introduced an interesting idea from a course book he wrote called “Life”. The teacher can use an App called ‘aurasma’ similar to QR Coder to scan a photo from the book and thus a short video starts playing about the topic of this photo. Or the students can go to the Grammar Reference at the back of the book, scan the grammatical item required with the App and thus a video of a teacher explaining the rule appears. This can be used by the teacher in class or the student at home. What an idea!!  

Hughes then ends his session with a sum up of these ideas as follows  

And ends up with the following References

You can watch it live on his session on   

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