Category Archives: literacy

Visual Literacy – #AusELT Twitter chat 6th May 2018

sunflower image.jpg

This chat has now taken place. Click here to read the transcript

Infographic, kinetic typography, screenager, binge-watch, emoji, meme, vine, augmented reality

John Hughes* lists these additions to our lexical repertoire to highlight the impact of visual communications on our lives and the renewed attention to the use of images in life (and work. Or work-life. Or life-work.) in the introduction to his article Visual Literacy in the English Language Classroom

What is it?

It seems no-one can agree on one definition. The International Visual Literacy Association has apparently spent the last 40+ years working on this, which seems bewildering until you remember the number of different disciplines and perspectives involved. They do quote Debes** as saying

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he*** encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.”

However, it seems everyone agrees that VL is fundamental to learning and living these days, whether understanding and evaluating increasingly multi-sensory / multi-modal experiences and messages, creating and communicating using these, or just plain enjoying them.

For the purposes of this Twitter chat, we’ll be focusing on from still images – photos, sketches, cartoons etc as well as emojis and memes – as well as graphs and charts, infographics and concept maps and graphic organisers, through to moving images from videos to GIFs, and if we can, VR and AR.

So please join in and share your experience, resources and questions. It’s a one-hour injection of ideas and inspiration.

Some of the questions we’ll be using to explore Visual Literacy (VL) are:

  • How do you define ‘visual literacy’ in ELT? What is a ‘visual text’?
  • Is VL reflected in your curriculum? How? / How could it be?
  • What kind of visual imagery do you and your students use / need to use, and why?
  • How do we / can we develop students’ VL skills? How can VL tasks be integrated with language development / practice and with other skills in ELT – analytical ~, critical thinking ~ – as well as with intercultural awareness and CLIL?
  • How does your own VL impact on your choices of and use of visual imagery for your own materials and presentations? What are some of the principles you apply when selecting / creating them?
  • What are your recommended sources for visual imagery? What are some of the tools and software you use to manipulate, create, or edit these? What about annotating, tagging, and other metadata skills?
  • What are your strategies to raise students’ and your colleagues’ awareness of provenance of visual sources, copyright IP and licensing (eg Creative Commons)?

* You may recognise the name John Hughes from the National Geographic Learning titles he’s authored. Here’s a link to an interview with him: Interview: John Hughes on Visual Literacy in the Language Classroom

** Debes, J.L. (1969). The loom of visual literacy. Audiovisual Instruction, 74(8), 25-27, quoted in

*** !!!

This chat has now taken place. Click here to read the transcript.


This post prepared by @Clare_M_ELT

Addressing literacy issues in very low / pre-literate learners – #AusELT Twitter chat, 3 July 2016

**This chat took place on Jul 3rd 2016. Many great ideas and resources were shared. To read the transcript and access the links, please click here.**

This chat looked at how we can addressing literacy issues in very low / pre-literate learners, and also strategies, tools and resources for pre-literate learners.

Some initial questions for the #AusELT Twitter chat at 8.30pm on Sunday, July 3rd.

  • Q1: What is a pre-literate learner?
  • Q2: What are the literacy basics?
  • Q3: How do we approach / begin teaching pre-literate learners?
  • Q4: What tools can help support pre-literate learners?
  • Q5: What tips / strategies can you suggest for addressing literacy issues in pre-lit learners?
  • Q6: How do you manage a multi-level literacy class?
  • Q7: Can you recommend any useful resources for helping pre-literate learners?

Remember when you answer to add A1, A2, A3 etc. to show which question you are answering. This makes it easy to follow the chat when it’s moving quickly.