Picture-books

Many language-learners tend to use children´s books for their studies. This is obviously a good idea, because the grammar is on a basic level and the amount of new vocab is not too big. Moreover they are not that long so you have the “I did it!”-feeling very soon.read-something

But lets think further: There are not only textbooks for children, but also picture-books. And this is not only because the children can´t read, but also because they are inspirational and nice to look at – even for adults!

Picture-books for language-learning

An easy way to use picture books is to just select one page and think about it some minutes.

  • What do you see? You can use the Questionaire down below…
  • Describe the scene as detailed as possible. Depending on your level you may only use some words, short sentences or even long and complicated phrases. You may do this oraly or you may write your sollution down.

It gets even more effective, when you have a tandem-partner or teacher, who may discuss the picture with you. If he/she is fine with it, you may also record his/her description so you can refer to it later.

Very good picture-books are “Wimmelbild-Bücher”. You can google the word “Wimmelbild” for some ideas. They are big pictures with a lot of information in it. You may even just take parts of it so you do not get overwhelmed…

What do you see? – questionaire

First try to concentrate on pictures with very few items. It is also a very good idea to take pictures with people on it. And then try to answer the following questions:

General ones:

  • What objects and persons can I see?fragezeichen
  • How do those objects/persons relate to one another?
  • What is in the front, what is in the background?
  • What is special about that object/person?
    • color
    • hight
    • material (for objects)
    • dress (for people)
  • For persons:
    • Why are they on the picture?
    • What do they think right now?
    • What may be their goals/dreams?
  • Are there things you may count?
  • Are there things you´d like to ask someone about that picture?
  • Can you make up a story out of that picture? (This may be a dialog between two people or a childhood memory or a simple short-story.)

Language-related questions:

  • Which verbs relate to that scene?
  • Which adjectives do come in mind?
  • Ask your partner/yourself yes/no-questions about the picture
  • Ask your partner to point to a certain part of the picture

Why a whole book? Isn´t a single picture enough?

Well, yes and no. You can do this activity only with one single picture, but this will only get you to a very short activity. If you have a whole book full of pictures you may refer to it every now and so often. You can go back to pictures you used before and add more details to your description later on. This is a good way to track your progress as well! Moreover you will have several topics to think and talk about.

I want to make one myself

Of course you can also make a picture-book yourself! The easiest way is to just take pictures you made with your mobile or cam or search the internet. Print them and put them in a photo album. And that´s it! You can start right away.

But of course this is not the only method. You can also paint/draw pictures if you want. They do not have to be perfect at all. They are just for you. Whether you use a comic-style or high-quality-portaits or anything inbetween, you will be the one, who benefits from the book!

If you use a photo album you can also easily remove and change the pictures you use when you get more skilled.

Further ideas how to work with it

  • When you make your own picture-book you can also store your descriptions next to the picture you thought of. Maybe you just leave one blank page so you will not re-read the previous thoughts before you made up new ones.
  • You can also note down some vocab that fits to the picture around it or on the next page.
  • You may also mark some specail details you want to concentrate on, when talking/writing about the picture.

A very detailed look at how to learn with picture-books can also be found here. The author even gives detailed information about how long to work with the book every day and what you may do in order to prepair a lesson or review one…

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