Bringing Images Alive in the Classroom

Although autumn had truly set in by October 9th Jamie Keddie still turned up in Hamburg in his sandals and t-shirt, fresh off a plane from Barcelona, to give us many new and practical ideas in his workshop: Using Images in ELT. The workshop was a great success. As many as 30 teachers and teacher trainers attended, including a mixture of old and new members.

Keddie built a nice informal atmosphere by engaging in some general chat with the audience while he allowed latecomers to settle in. It was also helpful for him to gauge the type of teaching we do so he could tailor his comments and ideas throughout the workshop accordingly. He started with a lovely describing activity that left out a key fact; the main subject was a cat and not a woman as we had all presumed. This is a good activity for learners to practice describing objects and positions, and it includes a range of specific vocabulary dependent on the image itself. The quirkiness of the image made the activity all the more memorable. It was also good lesson for us all on how the influence of the right image can make on retaining vocabulary and fixed phrases.

Next, he had us create our own images. We were given cards with phrasal verbs and fixed activities and told to draw the images represented. We then had to mingle and see if the other participants could guess what we had drawn. There was much excitement and laughter as we showed one another our own works of art.

The next two hours Keddie kept the pace fast and the input high. We moved from contemporary art, to images from the press, to photos, to information-gap describing activities, to dictogloss storytelling, and reproduction from an image.

We were well and truly wowed by the end and full of ideas. The great thing about Keddie's approach was that he didn't just provide us with practical ideas for the following week's lessons, but also challenged us to rethink how we use images in our teaching. The coffee break during the workshop, as well as the informal dinner afterwards, gave us all a chance to exchange ideas and experience - not only around the topic of the workshop but also about our current teaching practices and situations. It also gave us the chance to get to know Keddie a bit more as he didn't have to dash off afterwards (as is so often the case).

For those of you who missed the workshop, many of Keddie's ideas from it can be found in his book Images (Oxford ISBN 978-0194425797).

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