Using Visual Aids & Technology in the Classroom

Using Visual Aids & Technology in the Classroom

As language teachers, we are always looking for ways to make our content comprehensible and to increase student learning.  Two of the important ways we can do that is by incorporating visuals aids and technology into our classes.  Think beyond tape recorders and overhead projectors!  Whether our schools are equipped with high technology or not, we must find ways to make our lessons engaging for our students. 

Low-tech Visual Aids

Not only do visual aids represent authentic language material, they encourage students to use multiple senses to acquire information.  For instance, language teachers often bring "realia" into the classroom, which is a fancy of saying "real life objects."  If I’m teaching a lesson on clothing vocabulary, I would bring in actual pieces of my clothing for the students to see and touch.  This gives them a clear understand of the words I’m referring to, and they’re more likely to remember the vocabulary words in the future. 

Likewise, we use flashcards in a number of ways in the classroom.  Flashcards should have the English words, pictures, and even definitions or examples. There are countless activities and games we can use with the flashcards to aid students in practicing vocabulary words.  I also bring in magazine cut-outs of celebrity photos, advertisements and even scenery to allow the students to practice vocabulary, grammar, speaking and writing in an interesting and interactive way.  Personal photographs, cartoons, and graphic organizers are visual aids that are easy to find and easy to use in the classroom.  Also, don't forget that body language and facial expressions are vital tools in encouraging our students to understand the language we use. 

Using the Internet in the English Classroom

We can use the Internet in a number of ways for teacher prep of class materials and lessons, however, we should also be using the Internet for in-class student practice and homework to target listening, reading and research skills.  For teacher prep, different websites supply or help us create worksheets, quizzes, rubrics, puzzles and grammar or vocabulary models.

In class, we give our students opportunities to practice their skills by bringing in listening and video activities.  Listening activities could include songs, podcasts, Ted Talks, and clips from shows and movies are authentic materials that allow students to  non-verbal clues.  Many language teachers ask their students to create practice their language skills by creating their own videos and sharing them with the class.  Students can use the Internet to do research projects or group projects like wikis.  To give students opportunities to practice their communication skills, teachers can create pen pal or video pal projects.

On their own, English students have limitless resources to practicing their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, and even to prepare for proficiency exams like the TOEFL. To better their reading skills, students can practice by reading the news online or finding blogs based on their interests.  Students can create their own blog to practice their writing skills.  Podcasts, YouTube, and Ted Talks are great for students to improve their listening skills because they provide authentic material, and other sites like Breaking News English and BBC, have good listening activities geared to English learners.  There are many programs and applications like Duolingo that allow students to practice their speaking, especially pronunciation. 


As you can see, we are lucky enough to live in a day and age where we have an abundance of teaching resources at our fingertips!  It's our job to use it wisely to make the language-learning process accessible for our English students.  Want to learn more important tips and techniques for teaching English?  Sign up for one of our 4-week TEFL courses in Costa Rica!

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