5 ways to use infographics in language class
I’ve often said that infographics are a go-to authentic resource, particularly in novice classes. They are ready-made materials that help you provide input in the visual ways students are increasingly becoming used to. They often use bite-sized portions of language and lots of numbers that make them extra comprehensible. And because they are intended for native speakers’ consumption, they are empowering because they help students realize that learner materials aren’t the only conversation they can partake in.
But what do you do with them?
I got this question twice in the space of two days recently and that’s always a little red flag saying it would make a useful blog post. So, here are five ways I use infographics when I develop curriculum and lesson plans. I present them here with examples from the Spanish 1 program I’ve been developing with VIF International using a global inquiry model. I’ve included the essential question from the greater lesson (which is intended to take 4 to 5 days to complete) so you can see how they fit in the bigger picture.
1. Support for providing comprehensible input
The first way is to use it as ready-made visual support in the earliest stages of the lesson, the ones where you are providing comprehensible input on your way to asking students for active response.
|Lesson Title||4.1 “Working to Live”|
|Proficiency Target||Novice Mid|
|Essential Question||How can someone improve their community doing what they love to do?|
|Use||The teacher uses the infographic to introduce vocabulary of professions by reviewing “do you like?” and “I like” and connecting activity words to a profession, while introducing the new phrase “It interests me.”
Teacher: “Do you like (to read)?”
Student: “Yes, I like it.”
Teacher: “Does it interest you to be (a teacher)?”
Student: “Yes, it interests me.”
2. Venn diagram or other comparison
Because infographics are typically authentic (they are intended for consumption by native speakers), they often contain culture waiting to be used for compare and contrast activities. Cultural competencies, anyone?
|Lesson Title||1.2 “Between you and me”|
|Proficiency Target||Novice Low|
|Essential Question|| What do I need to know in order to express myself successfully in the context of Spanish class?
(Investigating power distance as a basis for choosing tú or usted, understanding commands and knowing how to introduce places and people in the school to a new Spanish-speaking student)
|Infographic||Presupuesto para el retorno a clases|
|Use||Students can compare what they bought with what the student in this infographic bought to go back to school, and perhaps, if they are ready, how much was spent on these items.|
3. Specific questions in/with a graphic organizer
This is my favorite way to use an infographic. So we’ve gone through my teacher-directed, scaffolded input, but they’re not quite ready to tackle the performance assessment yet. They’re not ready to do the Can-Do. They need some more interaction with the targets in order to successfully create something with language. In the VIF curriculum we call this the investigar piece, and it frequently includes an infographic with a graphic organizer that scaffolds the language and helps students focus on the targets.
|Lesson Title||7.2 “¡Me siento fatal!”|
|Proficiency Target||Novice Mid pushing to Novice High|
|Essential Question||How does culture affect where we go for help with illness and injury?
(Think investigation into topics from the curandera to the concept of a sliding scale.)
|Infographic|| ¿Gripe o resfriado?
|Use||Students use this graphic organizer to answer specific questions about the content.|
4. Springboard for polling class opinions
Similar to a compare/contrast exercise, students can also use the infographic to get opinions from their classmates.
|Lesson Title||3.1 “Los hobbies, los pasatiempos y la cultura”|
|Proficiency Target||Novice Low pushing to Novice Mid|
|Essential Question||How can we see culture in the activities a person prefers?
(Think investigation into what teenagers in Spain do for fun and how that compares to my own hobbies and whether I’d rather visit Santiago Bernebéu or Warner Brothers Madrid, for example.)
|Use||First, students diagram their own opinions, then their classmates’ opinions on the hobbies they recognize in the infographic about activities in Miraflores in Lima, Perú.|
Here’s what that diagram can end up looking like in the lesson I’m referencing:
|Actividad||Me gusta||Me encanta||Detesto|
5. Springboard for students to show what they’ve learned
Don’t forget to recycle previous structures and functions (it cements long-term memory!) to ask students to do something with the infographic that was an earlier target.
|Lesson Title||5.6 “Geography and Natural Disasters”|
|Proficiency Target||Novice Mid|
|Essential Question||How can a person be prepared for a natural disaster common to their geographic area?
(Students investigate what disasters are common in various places, identify what is common in their area and what Spanish speakers in their area need to know in the event of that disaster, and develop skills to help communicate that necessary information to them.)
|Infographic||La peor inundación|
|Use||First students answer:1. When did the flooding start?
2. What caused the flooding?
3. What kind of body of water is most of the flooding coming from?
4. Which area has been affected more, Requena or Yarinacocha? How do you know?
Then, students use the target “s/he needs” and feeling phrases to show what they’ve learned:
1. From what you can learn from this infographic, what is the biggest need for the people affected by these floods?
2. What are some Spanish words and phrases that people in this area might use to tell you how they feel?
How have you used infographics to support your students’ proficiency development?
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May I add a sixth way of using that I discovered at NECTFL earlier this year and that has me rethinking how we use Infographics completely. WHAT IF instead of changing the tasks for different learners, we keep the task the same and change the infographic to allow learners at different levels to be exposed to language that better meets their reading abilities? Take a look at this amazing wiki space, where teachers have already curated multiple series of infographics around several themes (and in several languages). The task is the same and they even include the task, but the input is different from student to student. I JUST LOVE THIS! For me, this could be a game changer for using Infographics.
That is a fantastic bank of input + activities and a great way to show how authentic input can be found appropriate for any level. I’m not sure I could call it a game changer, though, because I can hear one major challenge from the teacher voices in my head: finding multiple infographics that fit the exact same task can’t be easy (I frequently have a hard time finding just one that’s level-appropriate for what I need) and why would I do that work if I don’t address the topic across levels? Or if the topic is addressed across levels (increasingly common, though not what I would call common yet), I’ve increased the level of language I expect, so don’t I actually need to change the task in order to push them? I’m also hearing this: What happened to the mantra “change the task, not the text,” isn’t this quite the opposite? Just playing devil’s advocate with the teacher voices in my head – the themes in this bank (description, food, etc.) are so common they’ll be very useful and it’s awesome someone has done this work for us – you can bet I tagged it.
That’s why we have to work together more right? Leslie Grahn, the genius behind this wiki also has a fantastic pinterest page for infographics you might enjoy as well.
For me it’s a game changer because I know that the “change the task, not the text” mantra is even more difficult for teachers and the idea of leveling the input via infographics seems much more doable. (Especially in multi-level classes.)
Ah, multi-level classes…. yes, THAT makes me call it a game changer. Time to ruminate.
Great ideas and resources! I use them to introduce vocabulary to my novice mid students and as ways to gather info for use later in class for a presentational or interpersonal.
You’re right, introducing vocabulary is a great use of infographics! I just thought of another way I use them from your “gather info” comment: we mine them for culture. For example, last week as part of their at-home activities I asked my younger class to simply look at an infographic about corn in Mexico and count how many varieties are native to Mexico and guess how many they think they’ve tried.
Great post Sara-Elizabeth! I have been using them more and more myself. Just did the “Venn” diagram assignment myself last month with my Yr4’s looking at daily media use in Canada/Japan. I’ve used them for holidays/celebrations as interpretive reading as well. I also like to use infographics as a way to ‘extend’ an activity – asking students to take information acquired in the TL and creating their own infographics. My students just did amazing ones on Sumo and it helped them that we had used many in class prior to that (info on that here: http://bit.ly/1RkTpha). Thanks again for sharing new ideas for me to use!
I love to see infographics students create -especially if there’s a way for them to put them out there for a real audience. Have yours done that?
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These 5 activites are well-explained and give progressive confidence building to the students who don’t feel ready to have full conversations. Many thanks for providing multiple approaches! Thank you to Thomas as well for the additional blog. I will be sharing this post and WL Recipe for Rigor blog on WAFLT/AATF sites Collaboration begets so much learning!
I curate the AATF Pinterest page with AP/Thematic boards for French teachers. https://www.pinterest.com/aatfrench/boards/
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What a great list of ideas! I enjoy infographs but often forget to include them in my plans.
Thank you for sharing!
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