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Teaching Second
Language to Visual
By Zainurrahman
Th is is prin ted from Free Access Journals o f Philo sophy o f Language a nd Education

http ://za inurrahman s.wordp ress.com

October 2009
Email zainu rrah mankalero@gmail.com
Journals of Philosophy of Language and Education

graphics, form, place, space, size, and

Zainurrahman is lecturer in Kie Raha also relationship among other. The
Education and Teacher Institute of most important thing is that this
Ternate, Maluku Utara. Indonesia intelligence involves ability to view
object in various points.2
Learners with strong visual-spatial
intelligence are typically very good at
Teaching Second Language visualizing and mentally manipulate
to Visual Learners object. Those are often proficient at
B y Zainurrahman solving puzzles. They also have strong
visual memory and are often
Introduction artistically inclined. They have a very
Visual learner or visual-spatial good sense of direction and may also
learner term was firstly introduced by have very good eye-coordination. 3
Howard Gard ner in as one of items in Based on the assumption, visual
his theory of multiple intelligences. learners’ eyes and their abilities to
Each learner has their uniqueness, max imize it are considered as crucial
means that they are different in their second language learning or
individually; and because of their second language acquisition process,
individual differences, they will even in all sid e of their life. In this
acquire their second language in discussion, we will not focus on what
various ways. Visual learner, as visual learner is, or what
mentioned in an educational journal characteristics they have, but we
cited “think in term of physical space, prefer to focus on how they acquire
as do architects and sailors. They are second language and how to teach
very aware of their environment, they second language to them, in this case
like to draw, d o jigsaw puzzles, read is Eng lish.
maps… they can be taught throug h It is not a new issue that visual
d rawing s, verbal and physical learners are appropriately taught
imagery, tools includ e models, second or foreign language by using
g raphics, charts, photographs, vid eo, pictures, videos and texts.
television, tex t and picture.”1 Surprisingly, most of language
Visual intelligence is an ability to teachers are still unsure of their
observe “space” accurately (that is language teaching strategy especially
why it is called visual-spatial), visual for this type of learner. They reason
means picture meanwhile spatial
means something related with space 2
Wkikimu. 2009. Multiple Intelligences.
and place. This type of intellig ence http://www.wikimu.com/News/DisplayNews.aspx?i
involves awareness of color, line, d=2108

Wikipedia. 2009. Theory of Multiple
Lane, Carla. 2009. The Distance Learning Intelligences.
Technology Resource Guide. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_in
http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html telligences

Teaching Second Language to Visual Learners by Zainurrahman

that they are lack of sources or (with object visualization) and in
manage sources they have; they have teacher’s side, picture helps them to
limited ability to develop those manage, to arrang e, and to d eliver
sources. Unspoken-pictures have material. Harmer (2002:229-230)
limited action to develop stud ents g ives examples how to maximize
cognitive, video motion restricts pictures in teaching vocabulary;
teachers’ and students’ imagination where teacher starts drawing pictures
and creativity, texts’ meaning are or set them or miming certain action
stiffly determined by the texts itself, and then visual learners will
and so forth. Again, this is not a new creatively responds the teachers. This
issue, but it is realized that we are still use of picture is not for visual learners
lack of guidelines or textbook that only, but also appropriate for all types
specifically discuss about this case, in of students who can see clearly,
other words, we still need guid elines because according to Meier
or textbooks that elaborate or inspire (2002:97) visual durability, although
us about how to teach second uppermost for several people, is the
language to visual learner; at least for strongest device for every people. T he
optimizing present sources. reason is that in human brain there
are more d evices to process visual
R eintrod uce v isual learners’ language information than other human
learning media d evices.
It is, of course, needed to reintroduce Pictures are also useful not for young
visual learners’ lang uag e learning learner, but also for ad ult learner. For
media that overtime is considered as example, ad ult learners are interested
having limited power. One thing , to follow a presentation using power
visual learners have high imag ination, point slide and it is more
hig h visualization, as something g iven understandable “easily” than read a
to them by birth. Therefore, teachers printed material or textbook. Adult,
should not underestimate their accord ing to Meier (2002:98) learns
capability in offering second language easily if they use pictog ram, icon, and
by using pictures, videos and texts as 3D pictures and so on. Let us look at
the main media. Learners, in one way, the big companies that use graphic
should be motivated and directed to presentation to describe their plans
optimize their “special giving” to for the company’s d evelopment.
acquire second language, in this case Picture contains a lot of information
is English; by using and manipulating or message. For child ren, picture
visual objects optimized and represents a real object; for example a
maximized by teachers in other way. picture of elephant represents
elephant’s bod y structure and it parts.
P ictures Children are enabled to memorize
Pictures are very useful in vocabulary more than one word from one picture
teaching and learning, both for like thing’s name, colors and so forth.
student and teacher. In student’s side, For ad ult, a picture contains more
picture helps them to memorize word than information or message, but a

Teaching Second Language to Visual Learners by Zainurrahman

picture can represent a system, follow D ora’s adventure and know a
function, structure, possibilities, lot of new word s and how to use it. A
relationship and coordination of lot of words can be memorized in a
elements presented in one pictures little time, because the referents of
like maps, site plan, electronics those words are directly seen and
circuit, architectures, Egypt those words are mentioned in times.
hieroglyph and so on. For child ren, On the higher floor of video use, it
teacher can use picture to ask enables teenager and adult learner to
students mention word s. However, for “be in” the native speakers’
adult-visual learner, teacher or environment. They can observe how
lecturer can ask them to elaborate, native speak er use their languag e and ,
d escribe and suggest other of course, this is better than using
possibilities implied in the picture. certain record ed audio materials.
Pictures are also useful not for In more complex lesson, students can
vocabulary learning and teaching also try to retell the clips they just
only, but also in listening (stud ents watched either written or spoken.
can be asked to point [match it] T hey can retell the action or the
certain picture after hearing certain seq uence of action, elaborate what
voice, etc), and writing (students can happened in the clips and so forth. In
be ask ed to narrate a set of picture, the most complex lesson, they can
etc) and speak ing (students can be d iscuss the messag e, information or
ask ed to describe certain picture of its technology used in the clips.
function, color, etc)4. T eacher can turn off the audio of the
vid eo and then ask students to tell
Vid eo what the actors are talking about, or
Vid eo is a great tool to teach stud ents students can remember s o me
listening and pronunciation. So far we sentences in certain scenes. Subtitles
have d iscussed about picture, but we are also useful for the stud ents who
can also have students listen while are watching video; it enables
they watch film clips on video, DVD students to acquire new words, idioms
or online. T here are many good and so on. If students are proficient
reasons for encouraging students to in second language, teacher can use
watch while they listen. In the first vid eo without subtitle and after that
place, they g et to see ‘language in students can discuss the vid eo. Up to
use’, where they can see a whole lot of this point, creative teachers can use
paraling uistic behavior like intonation vid eo for wide rang e of function.
matches facial expression and
g estures (H armer, 2002:308) they T he Clock, Sanction and Award
also can see how people use words We all ever had a hard time finding
and so forth. the word we are trying to say, or one
Some films such as “The Adventure of that truly matches the picture in our
Dora” which enables children to mind . For visual learner, translating
mental imag es into word s or numbers
4 is much like a computer downloading
For further information see bibliography.

Teaching Second Language to Visual Learners by Zainurrahman

g raphics; it needs more time than then visualize peaceful scene6. Again,
bring up the text, because they do not teacher must be creative in teaching
only “download” mental images, but their students. No technique or
they also convert them into word s5. method can be stated as appropriate
T he process of ‘download ing ’ and prescriptively. Teacher’s creativity in
‘converting’ refer to brain’s work. T he teaching stud ents are demand ed, it
brain’s work will be ‘faster’ if teacher, plays the very significant role to
in giving a task, prepares limited time improve students’ skills.
and such k ind of sanction for fail
student and award for success G uid elines for Teaching Visual
student. Learners
For example, you ask your students to H ere are the guidelines for teaching
complete a puzzle or constructing a visual-spatial learners suggested by
tex t based on the video they have Silverman (1998):
watched. Place a mini clock in front of 1. Present ideas visually on the
them and mark in certain minute chalkboard or on overheads. “A
lines as the limit. T ell them if they picture is worth a thousand
must finish their task when the needle word s.” Use rich, visual imagery
reaches the mark ed line, if not, they in lectures.
will be g iven sanction and the success 2. T each the student to visualize
student will be given award . When spelling word s. An effective
the need le runs, they will feel being method of teaching spelling is to
pursued and this motivates their brain write the word in large, colored
work s faster. T his might be applied print, and so forth.
for all students; however, for visual 3. T each the students to translate
students this work s effectively; what he or she hears into images,
because they can ‘see’ the limited and records those images using
time. T hey also d o the task as if they webbing , mind-mapping
see the sanction or award, because techniques or pictorial notes.
they can visualize mental images in 4. G ive more weight to the content of
their mind easily than other. paper than format. These stud ents
In other line from the Golon’s often suffer from deficits in
assumption, Silverman and Freed state mechanics: spelling, punctuation,
that tension (or stress) is fatal to paragraphing, etc.
visual-spatial learners. T hey mig ht 5. A llow students to construct, d raw
not work when they are stressed or or otherwise create visual
under pressure, because stress and representations of a concept as a
pressure may be slowing down their substitute for some written
motivation; that is why visual assignments.
learners’ stress must be reduced by
ask ing them to do deep breathing and 6
Silverman and Freed, ____. Strategies for
Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners. V-70;2.
Golon, 2004.

Teaching Second Language to Visual Learners by Zainurrahman

T hose are suggestions from Silverman
that have been filtered by the writer to
match it with the present topic. Free access Journals of Philosophy of
Finally, visualization is the most Languag e and Education. Oct. 2009.
important process for both teacher
and visual learner. Using picture,
vid eo, and limited time (without
pressure) is use ful for applied in
teaching visual learner language.
Visit us and get full text journals of:
R eferences Pragmatic Criticism
G olon, A lexandra Shires. 2004. If You Ideolinguistics
Could See the way I Think . Denver: Psycholinguistics
DeLeon Publishing. Sociolinguistics and many
H armer, Jeremy. 2002. The Practice of Just click the link and d istribute for
English Language Teaching 4th free…..
Edition. Longman http://zainurrahmans.wordpress.com

Lane, Carla. 2009. The Distance

Learning T echnology Resource Guid e.

Silverman, Linda Kreger and Freed ,

Jeffrey N. ____. Strategies for Gifted
Visual-Spatial Learners. V-70;2.
http://www.g ifteddevelopment.com

Silverman, Linda K reg er. 1998.

Personality and Learning Styles of
G ifted Children. Denver: Love.

Wikiped ia. 2009. Theory of Multiple

Intellig ences.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wik i/Theory
_of_multiple_ intelligences

Wkikimu. 2009. Multiple

Intellig ences.

Teaching Second Language to Visual Learners by Zainurrahman