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Book review
Working with Images cover

Working With Images

By Ben


Review written by Alistair Dickinson

Here's another new title in the excellent Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series. On the back cover of Working With Images:

The power of images to stimulate ideas and discussions is currently underexploited in the majority of language coursebooks, and yet the ability to interpret images and analyse one's reactions to them is a crucial aspect of life in today's visual world where advertising and multimedia play such an important role.

Couldn't agree more. Choosing appropriate visuals to complement & stimulate should be a part of every lesson plan - catch the eye & reach the brain. It does take a while to find that specific image but with the internet life is a lot easier. For photos my first port of call is a search of Google Images & then if I need some clipart I go to Microsoft's Office online clip art page:
Two among many sources.

There hasn't been much literature about using visuals in the classroom but I do remember when the excellent 'The Mind's Eye' (Maley, Duff & Grellet 1980) came out. And then there was 'Pictures for Language Learning (Wright 1989). Along the way Earl Stevick published 'Images and Options in the Language Classroom' (1986). So Working With Images is a very welcome addition.

Working With Images is packed with a very wide range of around ninety interesting classroom activities. It is divided into the following seven sections:

A. Activity types
1. Describing images
2. Interpreting images
3. Creating images
4. Imaging
B. Image types
5. Signs, symbols & icons
6. Advertising images
7. Art images

The book is accompanied by a CD of the images used in the activities. The CD works on Windows 2000, XP & vista & Mac OSX 10.4 6 above. All of the images are in pdf format which makes accessing them a little laborious, & presumably for copyright purposes to make them difficult to edit. It is suggested that you project the images on the CD through your computer, but barring this a photocopy might be used.

The format of each activity is broken down into an outline focus, level, time, materials & preparation, procedure & variations of the procedure. Where appropriate, language to focus on with the activity is included. And the activities are aimed at a range of teaching contexts from the younger learner to the professional.

There are the usual picture comparison, odd one out, picture story extension tasks, all imaginatively thought out & with lots of variations, together with the more focused with lots of ideas for using advertisements, art images, icons, symbols & signs. Each activity is accompanied with material from the CD. You couldn't ask for much more from a book on using images in your lessons.

If you are looking to give your teaching that extra edge then get a hold of Working With Images, a must-have for any staffroom.

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