Visuals for Speaking

Infographics, and visuals in general, have a very strong presence in my class. I find they are a remarkably effective tool to get students speaking, comparing information and checking their previous knowledge about a topic. But, for me, the most valuable quality is that I can introduce plenty reading exposure during classroom time without having to use narrative texts or articles, which are usually more time-consuming. Of course, I will do some reading in class using magazine articles, for instance, but I think it is very convienient to use this type of visuals in class due to the time constraints and the very nature of a language classroom, where all the potential lies in the cooperation of students and creating opportunities for speaking.

In a previous post I described some ways infographics could be used in a language learning environment. And now I’d like to share some of the tasks I carried out with them in class with the actual texts I used.

1) A jigsaw activity. Level B1+. Topic: families.

Students worked in pairs and were given one infographic each. They could read about facts and figures of average British families. They were asked to search some information on their own and prepare to share their findings with their partner. Then, they had to work out the differences and similarities and also reflect on how reliable the information was considering the source and the date they were published.

2) Fill in the gaps. Level B2. Topic: Digital Technologies.

Nowadays there are loads of visuals on digital technologies and social networking. When we dealt with this topic in class I thought it would be a good idea to revise some of the vocabulary with an infographic about multitasking. I removed some of the words for students to carry out a fill in the gaps task.

3) Practising discourse markers with conceptual graphs.

Conceptual maps and graphs are probably my favourite type of visual for using helping students use connectors. Mainly because it is a kind of text that doesn’t require much time and effort from the student to understand the meanings and connections between the ideas.

When talking about health and medicine in class, a mind map like the one below from could be a good aid to revise the vocabulary of the topic and also practise linking the ideas.


4) Practising numbers. Intermediate and above

There are scores of infographics cramped full with figures expressing time, money, percentages and fractions. You can easily find one on the topic you are dealing with in class, and cover the numbers and carry out a guessing game. This activity could actually take many different forms and can be easily adapted to your own teaching context. The one below is from the and is perfect choice for this time of the year.


4) Video infographics. Level: B2; Topic: Time

For this activity students worked in groups. I asked them to watch a section of the video without sound. They took notes and then tried to express what they had just seen. It proved a great way to discuss and use the language they had learnt. This video, which is an adaptation of a Ted Talk by Philip Zimbardo, gave place to a lot of debate in class, too.

2 thoughts on “Visuals for Speaking

  1. I have dabbled into infographics once or twice, but never really exploited them effectively! Thanks for sharing some ideas here. I think they are useful for by-passing the negative feelings that some students may have with more narrative forms of written language. I had never even thought about video infographics! Thanks again!


    • Thanks Brian for your kind words!
      Exactly, that’s what I think, too. Infographics are very helpful for rehearsing and exploring with writing before they have to write a piece from scratch. I think it does help them feel more confident. And I really working with video infographics. You can try searching motion graphics, too. You might find interesting videos that work well in class.
      Thanks again for your comment!


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