May 19th is National Drawing Day (at least in Ireland) and while it might seem to odd to use drawing in language teaching, there are a number of benefits to incorporating art in your language lessons. Art can be a source of discussion as students describe an interpret works of art. Students can also discuss and explain their own works of art and how they created them. Drawings and visuals can also be a way to present new vocabulary. Many teachers use pictures to help explain a new word. But a picture showing new vocabulary in context gets students engaging at a deeper level. This in turn improves their memory. Art also provides more for students to talk about.  And drawing is a way for students who lack vocabulary to express themselves.

And creating art can be a way of reacting to story, or a form of prewriting. Stories Without End by Taylor Sapp is a collection of unfinished short stories and is full of ways to incorporate art and drawing in language teaching, giving students many opportunities to create visual as well as written projects.

Ideas for using Drawing in Language Teaching

  • In many stories involving creating a new kind of pet (Pick a Pet, pp. 17-19) or designing a robot teacher (The Last Human Teacher, pp. 93-97), Taylor uses drawing as a planning stage before students write about their new creation.
  • Supplement 2.2 is a comic panel to retell the story or a particular scene. This photocopyable resource can be used with any story in the book or any story at all. Reworking of the narrative in a different genre is a great way for students to demonstrate comprehension of a story, pick out the most important parts, create a summary of sorts, and explore to what extent pictures can and cannot replace words.
  • Supplement 2.1 similar encourages students to illustrate a story and I particularly like Taylor’s suggestion on page 109 to create a poster for the story in the style of a movie poster. Again, this gets students crossing genre boundaries. It also forces them to pick what they think is most important. Or the most appealing in the story.
  • Another prewriting technique I like is Draw Label Caption. Students draw their story before writing. This allows them to think about the vocabulary they need and plan descriptions. Any writing project in Stories Without End could benefit from the Draw Label Caption prewriting technique.

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