How To Use Visual Aids for Spanish Learning
Using visual aid for learning is indispensable these days if you want to be a successful teacher.
A classroom environment solely based on a teacher following a language book and students taking notes in their notebooks isn’t acceptable anymore.
A modern Spanish lesson includes videos, presentations, infographics, charts, graphs, flashcards, posters, and all kinds of visual resources that enrich and enhance the learning process of your students.
Keep reading to learn what are visual aids in the classroom, why they’re important, and how to use them. I will also introduce you to a few visual teaching strategies, and a series of tools to make your own educational visuals.
What Are Visual Aids in the Classroom?
Researchers have defined visual aids or visual supports in the classroom as “those sensory objects or images which initiate or stimulate and support learning” and as “those instructional devices which are used in the classroom to encourage learning and make it easier and motivating.”
There are different types of visual aids, visual devices, visual tools, and materials you can use to enhance your students’ learning process.
Among them I can mention maps, charts, diagrams, models, projectors, videos, presentations, infographics, posters, and many more.
Why Are Visual Aids Important for Learning?
As a teacher myself, I can tell you that the use of visual aid for learning is an excellent strategy to increase student motivation in the classroom and it also helps students to “make associations between pieces of information, soak up chunks of course content quickly, and function as a memory aid.”
Research has highlighted the importance of visuals in education, as psychologists have found that 83% of what is learned comes from the sense of sight, and both teachers and students have positive perceptions about using visual aids in the classroom.
7 Types of Visual Aids for Learning
If you’re considering the use of visual prompts or graphic aids to teach and motivate your students, you’ll find out that there are as many types of visual aids in teaching as there are types of students.
The limits for creating visual support for students are those of your creativity and imagination.
However, there are some visual aids more popular than others, and here I share with you a list of some of the most common types of visual aids for learning Spanish:
Videos are among the most popular visual aids in the Spanish classroom and perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they’re actually audio-visual aids.
Obviously, the added dimension that audio provides makes the visuals even more engaging for students.
Finding a quality source of Spanish videos specifically produced to be shown in the classroom is of great help, as videos are easy to understand and can easily connect with students’ emotions.
Besides, you can find videos about pretty much every topic in Spanish, they can be bilingual, and provide the kind of live animation and story-telling that’s hard to reproduce in the classroom.
Using pictures, images, and high-quality photographs with your Spanish students is always a smart strategy when teaching Spanish.
Images convey so many ideas, feelings, and emotions, that they’re very useful to teach new concepts and vocabulary in Spanish.
Nowadays, you can find all kinds of images on the web, most of the time for free. However, if you want to use high-resolution, freely-usable images take a look at either Flickr or Unsplash. They’re both excellent image collections that will enrich your lessons mightily.
I find infographics one of the best learning aids, as they make complex information easier to understand.
You can make infographics about a lot of different topics, which is one more of the benefits they have, their great flexibility.
You can create your own infographics about regular verbs or irregular verbs, about the three different moods, or about gendered nouns for instance, use different colors, include graphs, and every resource that you find helpful to explain the topic at hand.
I know, flashcards don’t have the best reputation among language teachers these days, but hear me out on this. The problem with flashcards was their overuse to teach vocabulary and thinking that by using them, teachers didn’t have to use any other visual teacher strategy.
However, flashcards have a role in language learning. They’re very useful to introduce new words, particularly with beginners of a young age.
A nicely designed flashcard of a león will make an impression in a young student’s mind that will help them make a connection between that word and the image of a beautiful lion.
Personally, I use posters a lot in my Spanish classroom. I have the walls of the classroom covered with posters in Spanish about everything you can imagine, from greetings and farm animals, to grammar rules and cultural tidbits.
If you’re a teacher like me, I’m sure you’ll get what I’m about to say. My students’ attention span is very short (like that of most of us nowadays), and they quickly stop paying attention to the lesson and look everywhere but at me or the board.
So, my thinking is that if they’re going to be looking somewhere else, at least I’m going to bombard them with Spanish content. Wherever they put their eyes, they will get some useful Spanish rule or word.
There was a time when creating a good presentation for your class was a basic skill.
These days, a presentation it’s just one more of the many available visual aids resources available for teachers all over the world. However, the benefits of having a good presentation to explain a complex topic are still there.
A presentation allows you to mix different types of visual supports such as videos, pictures, infographics, drawings, and charts, with audio and text. Like with videos before, presentations are a super visual aid that are much more than just visual.
7. Charts and Graphs
Charts, tables, and graphs are excellent tools to present information in a visual and summarized way.
As a teacher, it’s common that you try to explain a difficult concept in many different ways and fail to help students understand it. I’ve been there in that situation many times and it’s frustrating.
However, I’ve also seen the power of a well-designed chart explaining that same concept and succeeding where I failed before. In Spanish, I find charts and tables particularly useful when dealing with conjugation sets and accentuation rules.
Visual Teaching Strategies With Examples
The use of visual aids for Spanish learning has a positive impact on every student, however it’s particularly important for visual learners or students that tend to learn more than the average just by seeing things.
How can you help these students? Here you have a few visual strategies examples to make the most of your visual aids in the classroom:
1. Be Smart With Your Whiteboard
I can’t overstate the importance of making smart use of your whiteboard. Have a plan from the beginning of your class about how you plan to use the whiteboard and which every piece of content will be located.
Just as you may follow the same daily classroom routine or repeat the same Spanish phrases every lesson, you can try to keep a routine in the use of the whiteboard, for example the top right-hand corner can be reserved for the date in Spanish and below it just new vocabulary.
2. Bring Real Stuff to the Classroom
It brings an element of surprise and catches students’ attention when you bring a toolbox or a piece of luggage full of clothes to the classroom.
What can be more visual than the real stuff?
3. Provide Your Students With Timelines, Storyboards, Venn Diagrams
Here, I’m referring to you as a teacher to bring these resources printed to the classroom and give them directly to your students, so they can take notes on work in a more organized way.
Perhaps they take notes, but would never think of doing a timeline themselves. Introduce your students to these useful resources and their notes will be clearer and more efficient.
Tools To Make Your Own Educational Visuals
The good thing about being a Spanish teacher these days is that you have a lot of resources to create basically everything you can think of. Find below a list of useful tools (website included) to create your own visual aids.
Canva is a popular online resource that allows you to design presentations, videos, infographics, or posters, in an easy and simple way.
Easelly is a platform specialized in helping users to create engaging infographics.
Use Creately to design attractive charts and graphs in a friendly environment for those of us who aren’t very good at designing anything.
Pixlr is a useful (and free) online photo editor that allows users to cut, change size, and add effects to their images in an intuitive and easy way.
Flickr is a huge library hosting tens of billions of photos uploaded by users from all over the world. Images can be downloaded in a variety of sizes, just make sure to check the rights permissions of each photo.
Use Visual Aids in the Classroom and Improve Your Students’ Learning Process
Using visual aids in the classroom has no downside. You make your lessons more interesting and engaging, your students learn better, and the whole atmosphere of your classroom feels different when you make use of visual resources.
By using visual aid for learning you help your students to keep progressing in their Spanish learning process and take advantage of your student’s ability to gain fluency fast.
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