Are texts more important than images?

Some one asked the question after the session in July. No, text isn't really more important. Or necessarily more useful. I'd suggest that it depends…

I'd also suggest, however, that as teachers, we can easily fall into a number of traps.

We assume that (1) all pictures are intrinsically good, intrinsically useful to us when we are teaching language, and useful too to the people learning it. That's not true.

If it's a picture of a mobile phone, then it's not true: it's no more useful than actually reaching into your back pocket for the real thing (which would be a lot faster, for one thing). Or Zidane head-butting that Italian in the World Cup Final…. You just don't need that picture!

People also (2) waste a lot of time looking for, printing and photocopying images, when it in many cases it would be far quicker just to draw the picture on the board. You can't draw a picture of (say) a parrot? So, how about you imitate one…? (And which is more memorable — a picture nicked off of Google, or your imitation…?)

It also sometimes worries me that if we spend hours looking for, finding and editing the material, we are (3) forgetting that it's not really the material that matters; what really matters is the interaction and the language the material leads to.

Spend less time on getting the material together and more on thinking about what the students are going to be doing… then you are heading for a successful language class.

Texts are important too!
Perhaps because we image pictures to be so important, it's easier (4) to overlook text. Text is important too — apart from anything else because, in order for our learners to learn the language, they need to be "exposed" to, and have to "deal with", lots of examples of language in context, ie. texts.

And images as well!
Of course, you can find great pictures that will lead to a lot of language… But which of the two images below do you think you could get most out of…?


What does it "depend" on…?
As with all resources that we might be using in the classroom (whether technological or otherwise), it depends… on the amount of language (and response from, and interaction between our learners) that we are going to get out of the resources.

Where to find texts and images
See the "links" in the sidebar (right) to access the various sources you had on the handout from our session.

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