A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words


Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/11014423@N07/6053843607/”>ggallice</a> via <a href=”https://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

In my 8th grade French class, I have been trying to incorporate more “authentic” materials into my lessons. This can be tricky. A lot of the authentic language-rich items that may interest my students are sometimes too far beyond their current language skills. One topic, however, that we have discussed very successfully is elephant poaching in Africa. This topic worked well with my students because they already had some background information about it, and the language level of the materials on Radio France Internationale has been accessible. They also tend to be quite passionate about how animals are treated, and they are aware that endangered species need to be protected. I was so impressed with many of my students’ abilities to communicate complex ideas and feelings about this topic in French. The article and associated audio that we used to learn about this topic is no longer available online, but this one is similar (although this audio clip is more difficult than the one we used before).  Some of my students also read about “elephants” now using Twitter to raise awareness about poaching. 

One speaking activity that I want to do more often in my class is having students describe images. I have chosen the above image from Compfight as one that I could use in class because students could talk about it in various ways. Some might simply describe what the elephants in the photo are doing, or what they look like. Others could tell a story. They might also make a connection between the image and the student in our class who frequently mentions his love of elephants. Of course they can also make the connection with the problem of elephant poaching and the species being endangered.

One thought on “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

  1. ppframpton

    What you have done in French is very similar to what is often done in English for Academic Purposes class as well! We often do a picture activity with all of my students in order to expand their repertoire of adjectives. I will find pictures with a lot of activity that is relatable to the student and ask them to describe the picture as well and detailed as possible. To go even further with this, I challenge my students to come up with a story based on the picture and to be as descriptive in their whole story as they were for the single picture. This really helps to push the students to search for new vocabulary and useful synonyms. I can relate to how tough it can be to find accessible materials to expose language students to other mediums to help with language. In the past I have found some easier short stories that have been made into short films or youtube videos in order to reinforce the ideas and comprehension from more than one medium. The story “The Open Window” by Saki is one such story we were able to work with in this way. I really love the idea of using radio and had not thought of that before as so useful! But as radio is used to reach all people of any education level to bring important issues to their attention the language used is often more simple. This would be a perfect tool to make the English language even more accessible to my students and also to get them talking about current affairs and issues that important all over the world


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